Head Coach Paul Murphy ’84 began his swimming career in his Junior year at Andover, where he swam for the Junior Varsity team for all four years. After graduating from Andover, Murphy went on to swim at Bates College, where he broke school records and served as one of the Varsity team’s Co-Captains his senior year.
Murphy said, “I was starting a sport that I thought I was pretty good at, but I had not had any experience with it at all. It was much harder [than I imagined]. I eventually learned to love it a lot, and it was a great training sport, I could get in shape, and the kids were really a lot of fun.”
Murphy returned to Andover as a teaching fellow, and immediately dove back into the swimming program. He initially served as a fill-in coach for the Boys Swimming & Diving team, and eventually began to coach Andover Girls Swimming in 1992.
“I brought a lot of my Bates ideas and background to that first year and then the girls program became open two years later and I was still here, so I signed up,” said Murphy.
Over the past two decades Murphy’s goal as a coach is to keep his swimmers motivated, excited, and having fun.
Murphy said, “I fully believe that with learning and with coaching or sports, you have to create an environment where people are having fun, laughing, and really enjoying themselves.
Murphy continued, “So my theory is as long as you’re having fun first, the other stuff, like the hard work, the winning, the school records, tends to happen out of fun. If you’re just focusing on speed and working and grinding it out, it’s pretty tough, and you can easily not have a lot of fun.”
Murphy’s coaching mentality on positivity and having fun has played an instrumental roles in the success of his current swimmers.
Co-Captain Katherine Sweetser ’17 said, “Having Mr. Murphy as a coach the past four years has been very special. He always inspires me to do my best and do whatever I can to help the team, whether that be getting points at meets or encouraging positive atmosphere at practice. Mr. Murphy believes that ‘happy swimmers are fast swimmers,’ and this coaching style has really helped me appreciate the sport and have fun doing what I love.”
Co-Captain Gwyneth Wei ’17 said, “His constant positive attitude during meets and regular pep talks unite the team as a whole and sets the tone for the season. Without him, the swim team would not be what it is today, and I am incredibly thankful for his coaching these past three years.”
“He brings an enthusiastic energy to the pool every practice and brightens everyone’s mood. His positive attitude brings a fun and nurturing atmosphere to the team. I think that’s what makes him great coach,” said Sarah Choi ’18.
Murphy’s coaching style is similarly employed by his captains, who use a positive attitude to encourage the team during meets and practices.
Sweetser said, “Mr. Murphy inspires me to lead with a similarly encouraging style. I prioritize maintaining a fun atmosphere and making sure that everyone is still enjoying themselves while working hard. I have tremendous love for this team and put this passion into my role as a captain the same way Mr. Murphy is passionate about his coaching.”
“As a captain, I have had to relay opinions and ideas from the team to Mr Murphy and he has always been extremely receptive and open-minded to any new suggestions. His constant positive attitude during meets and regular pep talks unite the team as a whole and sets the tone for the season. Without him, the swim team would not be what it is today and I am incredibly thankful for his coaching these past three years,” said Wei.
Murphy also focuses on the development of each of his swimmers as athletes in the pool. His compassion and positive attitude is balanced by his ability to be open and honest with his team.
Choi said, “Mr. Murphy has constantly believed in me to try harder and to push myself. His straightforward and honest personality is something that I really like about him as a coach.”
As for the rest of the season, Murphy hopes to beat Phillips Exeter Academy in the 100-fly, securing Andover all 12 of the Andover/Exeter records and to perform at a high level in both the Eastern Championships and the New England Championships.