Representing the United States in the 2023 World Rowing U19 Championships was something OARS rower Tyler Murphy never thought would happen.
The championships will take place Aug. 2 to 6 in Paris.
Currently, Murphy, a 17-year-old rising junior at Olympia High School, is training with the National Junior Team at the Elite Athlete Training Center in Chula Vista, California.
“It really is a dream I didn’t even know was possible,” he said. “Right now, they have me stroking the eight, which is not official until the week before Paris, but the past two stroke seats of the (JM8+ boat) have been guys I’ve really looked up to and I didn’t think I’d be filling their shoes as a sophomore. … I didn’t even know I had the potential to be here.”
In only one week, Murphy already has rowed about 170,000 meters, which he has accumulated by doing both erg machine and on-the-water workouts.
“It’s the most I’ve ever (rowed),” he said. “We did 10-minute pieces at lower rates: 20, 24, 26, 28 (strokes per minute), but we are averaging what my OARS varsity boat would pull for a 2K all-out three times over. So, the speed here is really fast, but the pressure is also very high. Every time there’s a bad piece or someone has their head down, we are talking about racing countries and not clubs, and how we have to go beat Germany and not go beat Sarasota. It’s a lot of pressure, but it’s a lot of fun, and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”
THE ROAD TO WORLDS
To earn an invitation to Chula Vista, Murphy exceeded the hours of practice set by the team, putting in extra workouts during his off-hours before school, where he would get in some extra cardio or extra lifts. In total, with those extra workouts, he added about an additional year of workouts over the course of the three years he has been at OARS.
“Over the course of months and months of doing that little bit, it adds up to the point of where he is now among the Top 31 junior boys in the country,” OARS men’s head coach Nick Hall said. “For him, it speaks highly of his dedication and for the team. … It can be a great example for his teammates here at home as to what it takes to reach that level. He didn’t just wake up and didn’t do anything and he got invited. He put in the work, and he got invited.”
Before discovering rowing, Murphy tried myriad sports. During his younger years, he tried baseball, tennis, football, golf, lacrosse and soccer.
“Tyler’s dad and I met because we were pitchers in high school, in softball and baseball,” Tyler’s mom, Kim Murphy, said. “You start off (putting your children in sports) you know. And Tyler quickly made it known that baseball was much too slow-paced for him. He didn’t like to sit and wait for the ball. He wants to be out there, cranking through the water, so it was really fun to see, after trying those different sports, that it was like the shoe just fit when he went to the boathouse.”
Tyler enjoyed success this year on the water, along with pair — and double — partner, Ian Ballard.
“We raced the pair all the way through last year, too,” Tyler said. “We’d been rowing it for coming up like 20 months, so we’d really had a long time in that boat. None of this would have happened without him or Owen DeBoer, or any of the other guys. Rowing alone is impossible; you can’t do it. All of the work ethic and stuff I’ve found was through them, and my success is their success and vice versa. So, I couldn’t have done this along without them or my coaches.”
High expectations are in place prior to traveling to Paris; Tyler is truly looking forward to bringing home a medal.
“I really want a medal,” he said. “There’s usually four pretty fast teams, (these) being the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and China. So, one team won’t get a medal. But, the past two years, we’ve gotten first and third, so it’s definitely possible. I really want that to happen.”
Staff writer Andrea Mujica covers sports, news and features. She holds both a bachelor's degree in journalism and an MBA from the University of Central Florida. When she’s not on the sidelines, you can find Andrea coaching rowers at the Orlando Area Rowing Society in Windermere.