by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Like any student athlete, Laura Murphy couldn't wait to get her high school swimming career started.
And then it happened.
"There was a loose tile at the Solon Relays and she inadvertently stepped on it and cut her foot," Hudson head girls swimming and diving coach Matt Davis said. "She needed three stitches.
She was bleeding all over the place.
"It was a very crazy time. We were wondering how she was going to react."
One week later, Murphy, a freshman at the time, was back in the pool.
Now her college coaches are keeping their fingers crossed when it comes to Murphy's future.
Murphy recently signed a letter of intent to continue her academic and swimming careers at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. She plans to enter a six-year program that includes graduate school and major in physical therapy.
"It wasn't a matter of whether I was going to swim or not," Murphy said. "I wanted to go to a school that fit my academic needs and Duquesne had both."
Murphy, who has a 3.8 grade point average, visited other schools, but Duquesne's campus and all the sites Pittsburgh had to offer were just too good to pass up.
"I visited some other schools that were either too big or too small," Murphy said. "Duquesne is a Catholic school, so that was intriguing and the city was beautiful. It was just one of those things I could just feel. I loved it."
Murphy certainly expects to be a major force in the pool too.
As a junior, she joined Paige Kelly, Emily Arther and Connie Gan on the 400-yard freestyle relay team that placed sixth at the state meet. Murphy also placed eighth in the 100 breaststroke and 11th in the 200 individual medley. Murphy is a three-time state qualifier.
"Making it to the state meet on the relay was most enjoyable because I was with my teammates," Murphy said. "We wanted to get on the podium and when we did, it was the first time a girls' relay team made it in a long time."
Murphy said her best event is the breaststroke.
"I'm not as strong in the fly or the back, which is my first half," Murphy said. "I'm a lot stronger in my back half [breaststroke and freestyle]. I really improved my first half and that helped me get to states in the 200 IM."
Those who have known Murphy for a long time may be surprised by her success. At first, Murphy didn't particularly care for swimming.
"When I first swam, I was with the girls who are in high school with me now," Murphy said.
"I remember I was moved up to the Gold group with them and they killed me."
Fortunately, she had two of her biggest fans by her side: Her Hudson Explorers Aquatic Team head coach, which happens to be Davis, and her older brother Sean, a standout swimmer at the United States Naval Academy.
"When I first saw her, I knew she was an athlete," Davis said. "I could see she was going to be good. She was very comfortable in the water and very fluid."
Prior to his success in the Navy, Sean Murphy was a standout on the Walsh Jesuit swimming and diving team.
"He told me I could get faster and do good things in college," Murphy said. "It meant a lot to me."
The sport means a lot to her now. And with that being the case, Murphy couldn't accept anything less than the best from herself.
"Laura doesn't like to lose," Davis said. "She doesn't want to let her teammates down. She has that drive and motivation to get better."
Now that picking a college is out the way, Murphy can enjoy her senior season in the pool.
Of course, her success won't take place without some sacrifice.
"My goal is to go back to state in the 200 IM and the 100 breast," Murphy said. "I have no doubt we'll make it in the 400 free relay. The first few weeks of the season is hard. Once you get in the swing of things, though, it's easier. When you touch that wall in the end, it's all worth it."