In 2016, Ryan Murphy made his Olympic debut at the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. But, long before he was making waves and setting records as an Olympic Champion, he was just a little fish learning how to swim.

Today, his mom, Katy Murphy, is sharing where Ryan’s love of the water started, and why she decided to sign all three of her children up for swim lessons when they were little.

Collage of young photos of Ryan Murphy with his mother

Let’s rewind to the summer of 1996, 20 years before Ryan’s big debut in Rio

While the Olympic games were taking place in Atlanta, GA, 10-month-old Ryan Murphy was taking his first swim lesson 346 miles away in Jacksonville, FL.

His family had moved to the area from Evergreen Park, IL earlier that spring, and his mom Katy quickly recognized how much time their family would be spending near the water.

“Between the community pool and the ocean, we were swimming every day,” Katy told us. “All three of my children always loved the pool!”

Like many parents, Katy wanted her children to feel comfortable in the water. As a child, Katy had always enjoyed vacations that involved water, and she wanted to be able to create the same happy memories for her kids. So, she enrolled them in swim lessons when they were little so they could learn how to safely swim.

Young photo of Ryan Murphy

“I remember the summer of 1993 when I registered Ryan’s older siblings, Shannon and Patrick, into swim lessons,” Katy said. “We lived in Illinois at the time. The Oak Lawn Park District had ‘mommy and me’ swim lessons at a very cold outdoor pool. My mom partnered with Shannon, who was two years old and I guided Patrick, who was six months old. I have such fond memories of that experience, especially since my mom passed away later that year. Patrick took to the water so well! Shannon did too, but she was a bit more hesitant.”

Realizing how beneficial it was to start children in swim lessons at a young age, Katy also enrolled Ryan in swim lessons before the age of one.

“By the age of two, Ryan was very buoyant and could swim,” Katy recounted. “He loved the water so much, we got him on a swimming summer league when he was around four years old. It was around the age of eight that Ryan started talking about his dream of becoming an Olympic swimmer.”

Young photos of Ryan Murphy by ocean and pools

While Katy knew learning how to swim was an important life skill for each of her children to have, she realized the benefits of swim lessons didn’t stop there. In addition to water safety, her kids were learning other important life lessons-lessons like having perseverance, dedication, and the courage to dive into new experiences and reach for your goals.

“Swimming has been such a big part of our family’s life, and I’m so glad I made the decision to enroll my kids in lessons when they were little” Katy mentioned. “Stories of drowning are devastating, and swimming is a skill every child must have. The education swim lessons provide is invaluable for parents and their children. Plus, swimming is an activity that families can enjoy together for a lifetime.”

Your child’s potential is there. Sometimes you just need to add water!

If you’re thinking about signing your little fish up for swim lessons, we’d be happy to answer any questions you have!

With more than 100 locations across North America, our instructors use The Science of SwimPlay® to help children 4 months to 12 years old develop a healthy respect for the water, while giving them the confidence to make BIG waves in the pool, and beyond! We even have a pre-competitive swim team for any swimmers who have their own Olympic dreams.

Ask your local Goldfish Swim School whether they offer free trial classes for new members so you can test the waters for yourself, and see what the Golden Experience is all about!