London Calling: Head Men's Swimming Coach Tim Murphy Blogs About Olympic Experience

London Calling: Head Men's Swimming Coach Tim Murphy Blogs About Olympic Experience

Tim Murphy will give fans unprecedented access as he coaches the 2012 U.S. open water Olympic Team.

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Tim Murphy, the Ulen-Brooks Endowed Coach for Harvard Men's Swimming and Diving, was named the head coach of the U.S. open water swim team for the 2012 London Olympics on Sept. 1, 2011, and has spent  the past 11 months preparing for sports biggest stage. With the Olympics now just weeks away, Murphy will give fans exclusive access to his journey through periodic blog entries posted on Join Murphy, and Olympians Alex Meyer '10 and Haley Anderson, as they set their sights on gold at the 2012 London Olympics.

August 11, 2012 – Race Day
The morning of the men's 10k was another brilliant sunny day in London! The Serpentine was lined with thousands of spectators to watch. Alex's race started just the way we wanted with him swimming easy among the leaders. As the race progressed the pack became more and more condensed before a few of the swimmers and eventual medalists were able to slightly separate themselves from the pack. Alex was just behind the lead pack with a group that became more and more physically challenging to maneuver as the race progressed. In time the banging took its toll and despite a valiant effort Alex finished 10th. Open water racing can be cruel at times but it is part of the competition and part of the Olympics.

It was a very rough day but a very proud day. Behind the feeding pontoon were American flags and signs of support for Alex. An extremely strong showing of Harvard swimming alumni, family, and friends cheered Alex on throughout the race. The Olympic experience was on display at its best.

Alex's finish was not what he had trained and prepared for. His family and friends were there to support him on that day and his finish would not take away from the pride they felt and warmly displayed that day in London. It was built on love, friendship, and respect. They were there for Alex before, during, and after the race. I believe he will remember and appreciate their presence every day for all time. You can measure the time and distance of the race, but you cannot measure or put a price on what happened on August 10, 2012, along the banks of the Serpentine in Hyde Park, in the great city of London.

August 8, 2012 - The Village
The Olympic Village is a fascinating place. We continue to meet both new and old friends from around the world! It has a friendly, supportive, and unique environment full of the most talented athletes on the planet.

The USOC is to be complemented on the tremendous support staff they have for us here in London. We are very well taken care of on every end. We just came out of the FINA technical meeting and all the questions and concerns about the race course are now answered. Open Water is always a bit more challenging because the course and the races are never quite the same. I think this adds to both the difficulty and the beauty of this race.

There were over 200,000 people in Hyde Park watching the Triathlon on Tuesday. Spectators will line the entire 10k course and the overflow can watch the race on two huge big screen TVs set up in the open area of the park. The weather forecast calls for a high of 24 and low of 13 degrees Celsius with partly cloudy skies for both the women's and men's races. The water temp should be around 20 degrees Celsius.

A reminder that the women's race in on Thursday, August 9 and the men's race is Friday, August 10. The start time for both races is noon London time, so plan to get up early to watch it live (5 hours ahead of EST)!  I will let you do the math on both.

Click here to watch live!

There is a sense of calm before the storm starting to settle in with the USA open water team. The work is done. Cheers to Haley and Alex on their consistent, focused, and determined preparation and efforts to represent our country with their heart, mind, and soul on race day! They have earned the right to be called Olympians of the 2012 London Games! You never know what will happen on race day, but we do know that we will be just as proud of them when the race is over.


August 5, 2012 – Touching Down
Hello from the Olympic Village.

As we departed Quebec City on Thursday evening the anticipation of finally going to London started to hit home. We left Newark that evening at 10 p.m. at the end of a very long day. As I woke up shortly before landing, some relief started to set in as we touched down at Heathrow Airport.

As soon as we walked off the plane the London hospitality kicked into gear and we were greeted with a big friendly welcome from the Olympic volunteers that was very much appreciated. I must say the volunteers around the city have been fantastic! The people of London have embraced the crowds with their unique humor and truly seem to appreciate the excitement both in and out of the venues. They have been a wonderful host and should be complimented for their efforts to make this a special week for the athletes, guests, and spectators from around the world!

We had great seats and teammates around us as we sat with USA Swimming the last two nights of the swimming competition. AWESOME! Great venue, Olympic records, world records, a Friday night visit from Team USA Basketball, and the USA team spirit was as good as it gets!  Could not have asked for more on our first two days in London!

We will get our first opportunity to get on the 10k course Monday, just a couple of days before our races. Time is starting to move a bit faster now. I do want to say how fortunate I am to have a great staff to work with. All our efforts are focused on giving Haley and Alex the support they need to be successful. A couple days left to relax, focus, and then two hours of pure, intense racing before what looks like may be a huge crowd. We will be excited to see our families, friends, and the USA flags waiving in the crowd!!! GO USA!!!

Check out new photos from the Olympic Village.

July 28, 2012 – Final Preparations
I wasn't sure what to expect as we left Quebec City and headed off on our 3 1/2 hour trek to the town of Roberval, a small town on the banks of St. John lake steep in open water history. As we rode into town I started to notice the signs for 58 Anniverse Traversee Internationale Du Lac St-Jean, the week-long celebration that includes a town supper on the street, the 10k event we are participating in, 1k-3k and 5k age group events, and the historical 58th 32k lake crossing. It is a tremendous event embraced by the entire Roberval community and attracts swimmers from all over the world.

Posters with pictures of past champions included American Greta Anderson, seven-time champion John Kinsella, two-time champion Chad Hundeby, and our own Olympic Coach Paul Asmuth who won the 32k crossing of the lake three times. Our American team here includes Olympians Alex Meyer and Haley Anderson, National team members Eva Fabian, Arthur Frayler, Emily Brunnamen, Christine Jennings, and FINA rep Dale Petranec. Alex won his 25k World Championship here in 2010 and the group has fond memories of their trips here. After the race we will return to Lake Beauport for our final preparations before heading over to London.

Like most of you, we will be watching the opening ceremonies on TV. The logistics of our trip made it somewhat impossible for us to be in London so far before our race. We will have the opportunity to walk in the closing ceremonies which will be a special ending to our incredible journey.

Enjoy the photos I have added which include our training camp at Lake Beauport outside of Quebec City, the pool at Laval University, and our time in Roberval. We now have one week left in Canada and two weeks until the Women's Olympic 10k. The days seem to be getting shorter! All our time and thoughts will be devoted to connecting the dots that lead to Hyde Park.

New Photos from Lake Beauport and Laval University.

July 12, 2012 – The Countdown Begins
22 days until we land in London
28 days to the Women's Olympic 10k
29 days to the Men's Olympic 10k

Hello again from the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs! We are going on five weeks of following a very focused and rigorous daily routine. Since coming back from Trials we have hit a nice stride rotating our workouts and adding the endless pool to our morning practice. One of my objectives in preparing Alex is to continually challenge him both physically and mentally by changing the courses and types of workouts we do. Our open water workouts have become the most important and best workouts of the week.

During our stay we have had the opportunity and honor to work out with coach Dave Denniston and the Paralympics Team, coach Dick Shoulberg and Olympic Trials qualifiers of Germantown Academy, coach Mike Doane, the resident National Triathlon Coach, along with his club program Colorado Springs Swim Team. A big shout out to coach Shoulberg for sending us Arthur Fraylor to be Alex's training partner for the next couple of weeks. The workouts have already started to take on a more competitive tone which I enjoy very much.

Today we added to that list and took a trip to the United States Air Force Academy.  We headed out to the AFA for our afternoon workout which started with an escorted tour of the base then jumping in with members of the men's and women's team and coach Casey Converse.  Did I forget to mention Alex jumping in a full body ice bath after his dry-land workout this morning. Just one more exciting thing he gets to do!

Last week we enjoyed a visit from Alex's dry-land coach, Tad Sayce, of Sayco Performance Athletics to tweak Alex's strength program. Paul Asmuth, Olympic Open Water Coach, also dropped in to help with the team preparation. It was great to have visitors and nice to have them with us for our practices. Both Paul and Tad have played important roles in Alex's preparation.

Our timeline for the remainder of our trip is as follows:

  • July 18: Finish at the OTC with a morning workout  and head home
  • July 19-21: Three days needed with family and friends
  • July 21: Hop on a plane to Quebec City for our training camp
  • July 24: Head up to Roberval Quebec for a 10k prep race
  • July 26: Roberval 10k race and head back to Quebec City
  • August 2: Leave Quebec on an overnight flight for London
  • August 3: Arrive in London
  • August 9: Women's 10k
  • August 10: Men's 10k
  • August 12: Closing Ceremonies

The Olympic Games are slowly moving in on us but we remain taking things one day at a time. We still have some very important work to do before heading to London. Thank you to all who have reached out to Alex and I to show your support. It is greatly appreciated and a very important part of this journey. We also owe a great deal of gratitude to USA Swimming and the USOC staff for taking good care of us at the OTC.

Also, don't forget to check out photos of Alex's training here!

July 5, 2012 – London Calling
The journey began at the World Championships outside of Shanghai in July of 2011 where Alex Meyer was named as the first Olympian for Team USA. It has been a long, interesting, and at times challenging journey up to this point.

Fast forward to June 3, 2012 when I departed Boston for Portugal to coach and watch a tremendous battle for the last Open Water spot for London. Haley Anderson from USC finished first and earned her spot on the team. I left Portugal a week later to meet up with Alex in Colorado Springs at the Olympic Training Center to continue our preparations for London. After a couple of weeks of mixing workouts in the 50m pool, outside 25yd pool, and several trips to our open water spot in Chatfield State Park just south of Denver, we headed to Omaha to catch the final 3 days of the Olympic Trials.

Our journey's last leg started to come alive as Alex was introduced as a member of the London Olympic Team in front of a packed house in Omaha on Saturday evening. We finished up on Monday night with a send-off for the entire team and staff from families, friends, and spectators to conclude a tremendous week for the great sport of swimming.

The 8 day competition included the following highlights:

  • 49 athletes will represent  USA in swimming (26 women and 23 men)
  • 22 of those athletes are first time Olympians
  • 28 different club programs are represented on the Olympic Team
  • US Swimming Olympic Trials was a must watch and the most watched TV during the week as 167,048 spectators tuned in

Tuesday morning I watched Alex jump into the water for the Olympic Team's first practice together, followed by a team breakfast and encouraging words from Head Coaches Greg Troy and Terri McKeever, National Team Director Frank Bush, and Executive Director of USA Swimming Chuck Weilgus. We have since returned to Colorado to catch our breath, refocus, and continue preparation for London. Two more weeks in the altitude and a daily routine of eating, practice, dry-land, eating, resting, practice, eating and then sleeping to prepare for the next day of more of the same.

London is calling!!!