Gráinne Murphy is probably Ireland’s best hope in the pool at this year’s Olympics.
Hailing from Wexford, the 19-year-old already has three individual national records in the 800metres freestyle, the 1500m and the 200m Individual Medley. On the European stage she has made her mark – she won a silver in the 1,500m freestyle in the 2010 European Aquatics Championship and claimed bronze in both the 400m and 800m freestyle in the European Short Course Championships that year.
Indeed she is quickly becoming known as the best Irish swimmer of the past 25 years.
Ahead of London 2012 we caught up with her.
JOE: Your parents made a lot of sacrifices for you to pursue your swimming career, tell us about that?
Gráinne Murphy: I moved to Limerick when I was 13, my Mam moved down with me and my Dad comes up and down every week. Back then it was something I really wanted to do and I’m glad I did it. I really like Limerick, the setup there is really good. The support is fantastic, we have it from all the support staff, the institute of sport, so it was a good decision.
JOE: There’s been a few good swimmers in the last few years , Melanie Nocher, Andrew Bree and Barry Murphy, but you’ve been looked at to bring back up the image of the sport, do you feel any pressure from that?
GM: No I don’t feel under pressure from anyone. I’ve got my own goals and obviously if I achieve them I achieve them, but I’m going to the Olympics to do the best I can, to enjoy the experience and to have as much fun as possible.
JOE: You’re still quite young and yet have achieved a lot in the sport, how did you manage things like the Leaving Cert?
GM: Yeah 19 now. I did my Leaving Cert over two years in Castletroy College. They were a great support allowing me to split it over two years. So Leaving Cert done, it’s just kind of swimming now and I’ll go to college then.
JOE: It must have been difficult to study while you were breaking those Irish records!
GM: Ah yeah, but it was still fun to have a distraction and all, not solely focusing on swimming but then once I qualified I just kind of stuck my head down and started studying again. But it’s always nice to meet different people and be in a different environment now and again.
JOE: This is your first Olympics, obviously for a lot of athletes this is something they build for their entire career. Have you been doing everything with a focus of building for these Olympics or do you approach swimming on a meet by meet basis?
GM: No well... I suppose the Olympics do only come around every 4 years, but I’m still only 19. The World Championships are next year again, so there’s always something on the horizon.
JOE: Have you set any goals or is this Olympics just about acclimatizing to what an Olympics is?
GM: Well, I have set my own goals and I want to swim to the best I can on the day and swim to the best I can on the day, but really I’m just going to go over there and enjoy it and gain as much experience as I can.
JOE: This is your first Olympics, have you had any chats with any of the older more experienced heads in the squad about how to approach it?
GM: I think everyone is saying the same ‘go and enjoy it, go and enjoy the atmosphere because it’s like a home Olympics so it should be enjoyable!
JOE: Thanks a million Gráinne and best of luck!