Aer Lingus swimmer Barry Murphy has crowned his 2013 experience with another bronze medal in the pool, this time in the 50m breaststroke at the European short-course swimming championships in Herning, Denmark last week.
It follows his remarkable and Irish-record setting swim in Eindhoven which saw him claim a world cup medal in the same event, cancelling out the disappointment of his experience at the World championship in Barcelona in July.
Murphy was placed in the unfavoured outside lane in the final, but swam the race to almost total perfection, touching in the lead at the turn, and pushing for the touch for a medal, coming home in 26.56. Damir Dugonjic of Slovenia was the Gold medallist in the event in 26.21.
Speaking to Gazette Sport after returning to Dublin, Murphy explained that his success was down to a new conscious decision to approach his discipline in a new, more relaxed way.
“I was pleased to execute the strategy I had going into the meet, that I didn’t want to be expending too much mental energy in the earlier rounds, and save it for the final, which I think paid off.
“I knew I had to play to my strengths, which for me is my speed, so I tried to make sure I hit the wall at 25m first, and fight coming home to the line.
“It went well, and it was part of the mental energy I applied to the swim as well. I was discussing it with my coach, and we agreed that I needed to be out in front in the first 25 if you want to be in a shout for a medal and it paid off.”
That progress will be measured by how he performs in the new year, with a clear focus on next year’s European long-course championship in Berlin in August, and his new approach coupled with the experience of racing against some of the top swimmers in the world is reaping dividends for Murphy.
“I have figured out what works for me and what doesn’t. We train all year round, with so many hours in the gym and in the pool, and it is all to be successful. If you start to think about that too much, form an attachment to it, it can be detrimental.
“That was something that I consciously worked on with my coach. It is something that, in a sport where everyone wants to be successful, and if you want that success too much it can have a negative effect.
“This year, the best thing that happened was understanding why I was underperforming this summer. If I can continue to swim that way, swim relaxed, I can continue to progress,” said Murphy.