Athlete in focus: Sadie Murphy

After breaking multiple records in her first two years of high school, swimmer Sadie Murphy is already a star.

First, Murphy broke Hannah Blankemeier’s 2006 record in the individual medley (IM), which includes freestyle, backstroke, butterfly and breaststroke. Then Teagan Ogsa, a 2022 alumna, broke Murphy’s new record. But Murphy came back and broke Ogsa’s record.

Murphy also holds the fastest time in Oak Park and River Forest High School history for the 200-meter freestyle.

After high school, Murphy plans on swimming in college, for whichrecruitment starts shortly. “This year I hope to get top six in state because last year I was top 12. The ultimate goal would be to win state,” said Murphy. “I definitely have some natural talent, but also I just really like swimming, and I think you can get really good at any sport if you have enough love for it.”

Murphy has been swimming since she was 5 and has been on a competitive club team, Bullets, since she was 7.

Although it is clear that Murphy is a natural in the water, it would have been harder for her to reach the level of success that she is at without support.

“I feel like I wouldn’t like swimming so much if it weren’t for my friends and my teammates. It’s really hard to get better alone. You really have to have a team to push you,” said Murphy.

Ogsa, now a freshman at Northeastern University, has been a role model for Murphy as a swimmer, teammate and friend. “She is so talented, and I don’t even think she really knows it yet,” said Ogsa, of Murphy. “She is definitely able to get her head in the zone when she needs to.”

“One of my biggest things with her is just mentality and keeping a mindset that reminds you that it’s okay to have bad days, but you can’t have a bad week. You have to be able to rebound,” added Ogsa.

On the OPRF swim team, Ogsa said she was always the highest energy and most supportive teammate. Her goal is to help Murphy bring that energy to the current team.

“When I was on that team, I was the loudest in the pool. I was always encouraging people even when we didn’t even want to hear it. Loving what you’re doing is going to be so much more beneficial than just feeling like it’s a chore,” said Ogsa.

Clyde Lundgren, the OPRF swim and dive coach, has also been a strong contributor to Murphy’s success. “Meeting her, I was surprised by her humility and how quietly she carried herself for being so accomplished,” he said. “She’s probably one of the most well rounded swimmers that I’ve ever coached.”

Lundgren added, “This season I’ve tried to lean into some of the competitive mindset attributes. She does so well with the training and the intensity of practice, so I’m really trying to support her with developing the mental aspect of the game.”

Beyond her exceptional times, Murphy is a strong teammate and values maintaining a healthy balance between swimming, school and having a social life.

“She’s somebody that’s always looking out for other people and looking for ways to be a good teammate,” said Lundgren.

“Sometimes you can get athletes of her caliber that are just trying to make sure that they get what they need and take care of themselves, but she’s definitely a team first person that tries to put other people above herself,” he said.

Although Murphy is working towards swimming at the collegiate level, her current focus is on state.

“We’re putting in the work that we need to. The kind of times that she’s shown that she’s capable of doing so far this season will put her in a good spot for state and set her up well for accomplishing that goal,” said Lundgren.

“I would love to see her develop her killer instinct, and look for ways to challenge herself,” Lundgren continued. “Often when an athlete outpaces their competition, they have to start to manufacture challenges for themselves, to make it competitive.”

Winning the race is usually not an issue for Murphy. As Ogsa said, “She’s super versatile, which is awesome. She can really do whatever you put her in, and she’s going to do well,” but it requires extra effort to find things to drive her to be the best she can be.

As Murphy continues to navigate the challenges of being such a distinguished athlete at such a young age, she hopes to be able to improve her outlook, saying, “Sometimes my mindset is not where it needs to be. I’m sometimes afraid to do the best that I can, even though I have no reason to be afraid. I just need to take more risks.”