Franklin County swim team member Michael Dunphy is progressing his skills in the water at an incredible rate, and in doing so, has became a name to watch in the sports top-tier circle.
Dunphy just recently returned from competing in the 2014 ST AAAA Southern Zones Championships.
Representing the southeastern region, a team made up of some of the top talent from Tennessee, Alabama and the Florida panhandle, Dunphy posted career best times, earning one gold, and three silver medals.
Held in San Antonio, Texas, the Southern Zones was held in nine sessions, over a five-day span. Each swimmer’s schedule called for prelims in the morning, followed by more competition in the evening.
“If I would’ve had one more race, I don’t think I could’ve done it, I was so tired.” Dunphy said of the taxing competition.
Competing as a 16-year-old in the 15-18-year old age grouping at the Southern Zones, Dunphy excelled.
In the 200-meter breaststroke, he posted a winning time of 2:24.02, defeating 25 other swimmers.
The time of 1:06.77 was good enough for second place in the 100-meter breaststroke.
Dunphy was also on two relay teams that placed second, in the 200-meter medley relay (1:49.12), and the 400-meter medley relay (3:58.37).
Ranking 27th in the nation in the breaststroke division, Dunphy continues to get better.
Despite garnering attention from Division I colleges, and being ranked in the nation at just 16 years old, the Franklin County senior is just now entering his fourth year of competitive swimming.
Since gaining an interest during his freshmen year of high school, due to having so many friends on the team, Dunphy has learned and improved at an incredible rate.
With still his senior year to go, Franklin County swim coach Sue Hiscock said that Dunphy has been the best swimmer she has coached in her 30 years of experience.
Last year Dunphy’s best time in the 200-meter Breaststroke was 2:37, a 13 second difference between the time he recently swam in Texas.
“It’s quite phenomenal actually, when they get to 15 and 16 (years old), to have a one-second drop is pretty awesome.” Hiscock said of Dunphy’s continued improvement.
While most swimmers are attempting to shave off half a second their senior year, Dunphy is continuously shaving his time lower.
“I’m waiting for it to slow down, but it hasn’t yet,” Hiscock said.
The time jumps haven’t been just given to Dunphy. They’ve occurred through hard work — practicing often 22 hours a week between pool time and weightlifting.
Between the practice times and camps Dunphy attended this summer, he said he has only missed swimming workouts four days this entire summer.
A multi-talented athlete, Dunphy also played for the Franklin County Rebel football team and ran on the track teams his first three years of high school.
Deciding to make swimming a priority, he will not play football. It will be the first year he has focused solely on swimming.
Although admitting it was a tough decision, Dunphy said that when playing there were spans of about four months where he didn’t get in the pool.
However, there are some things from the gridiron that he brings to the pool.
“I just think about how mad I’m going to be if I don’t do well.” Dunphy answered of his thoughts prior to a swim competition.
Hiscock referred to another moment where Dunphy uses a little bit of his football mentality.
“He intimidates them by shaking their hand,” Hiscock said of Dunphy with other swimmers prior to the event.
Hiscock noted that Dunphy scares other swimmers with the simplest of words, “good luck.”
As he embarks on his senior season, Dunphy has some goals set.
“I have set times in my head that I want to make, but I really want to win state,” Dunphy said of his senior year goals.
Dunphy placed seventh at last year’s state meet, but his goal for this year will be a tough task because the nation’s top two breaststroke swimmers are in his division, according to Hiscock. With the new times posted, Dunphy ranks third in the state.
Although it will be tough, Hiscock doesn’t think it’s impossible, and for good reason.
“Every year he goes a step higher and higher,” Hiscock said about Dunphy’s continued progress.
This year, Hiscock said she would like to see Dunphy compete in the butterfly, breaststroke and freestyle swims at state.
When asked of his post high school plans, Dunphy said he would like to swim in college, which Hiscock said wouldn’t be a problem.
A few schools are looking at him, but Dunphy said that Western Kentucky is at the top of his list.
With a hopeful big season ahead, Dunphy looks to just get better.
Hiscock said she thinks he still has plenty of growing he can do.
“I think it’s quite feasible to see him at the Olympic trials in two years,” she said o.
A very modest young man, Dunphy was quick to note that doesn’t mean winning the trials, merely qualifying for them.
Still Hiscock said that Dunphy is just another five seconds in the breaststroke from being at that level.
The sky is the limit for the talented young athlete, who could be seen on a much bigger stage sooner rather than later.