MONIQUE Murphy’s sights are transfixed on Tokyo 2020.
The 23-year-old won silver in her pet 400m freestyle at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
She has excelled in the time since, and most recently won the national 400m freestyle multi-class title at the Hancock Prospecting Short Course Championships.
Murphy had planned to add a world championship title to her resume in Mexico earlier this year.
She and the Australian Dolphins spent months in a training regime developed to replicate the conditions they would experience at Mexico City.
Utilising altitude tents and Fitbit products, the data from which was closely monitored and analysed by team leader Adam Pine and a dedicated team of coaches, Murphy and her teammates underwent as much preparation as possible for the titles.
The heartrate monitor was one of the most useful features.
Athletes wore the devices and, over time, established what should be their baseline heartrates. The effects of altitude on their bodies could be measured, which allowed trainers, coaches and the athletes to better adapt their training or recovery methods.
“When you go to altitude it’s harder to recover, so we’ll see a rise in our resting heartrates, and we can track that and see how the body is coping,” Murphy said.
“Your body just doesn’t recover in the same way so we could look at the data on the Fitbit and see how our bodies were functioning.
“Initially things were tougher. I noticed my leg would swell a bit, as your body is working harder trying to pump more blood, and it would take longer to get your leg on in the morning. at training, I noticed things like holding my breath, lung capacity was compromised.
“I’m asthmatic as well so that was good to highlight.”
The team was ready to compete.
Murphy did not predict whether or not she would earn a place on the podium, but the New Zealand-born Canberran wanted to set a new personal best.
A 7.1-magnitude earthquake put a stop to those plans.
The world championships were cancelled due to the deadliest earthquake to strike Mexico in 30 years.
The Dolphins still travelled to North America. They competed at the Para-Swimming Canadian Open, where Murphy was part of the gold medal-winning 4x100m freestyle relay team.
Murphy’s aim is Tokyo in 2020.
Should her body hold up, Murphy wants to go one better than her success in Rio, which came just two years after an accident that changed her life.
She survived a five-story fall on March 29, 2014, but ultimately lost her right leg below the knee.
Just one month later she had her first hydrotherapy session, in five months she was “properly training” in Victoria, and exactly one year after the incident she qualified for her first world championships.
“I had dreams of being there but I always found myself sick or injured and never qualified for a national championships,” she said.
“I was training at that national level but it just didn’t come together for me (before the accident). Looking back at the foundation that I built, all of that training has allowed me to get what I have now, even if at the time it was frustrating not reaching my goals.
“I had the talent, it just wasn’t coming together.
“When I graduated Year 12 I went on a gap year and decided I was done with competitive swimming. I started uni, but quite often found myself back at the pool, it was always a safe place for me to go to stay fit.
“Then it was my accident that brought me back to the competitive world.”
The Olympic silver, which she won as a 21-year-old, is her biggest win to date, but Murphy said she didn’t have to look far for inspiration when it came to other competitions, and achieving more goals.
“Being part of the Australian Dolphins swim team, and being surrounded by so many people who have overcome similar adversities, just really helped me grow and learn, and realise it’s not something that can hold me back, it’s something I can use a launch pad,” she said.
And it’s that inspiration she hopes will end with an Olympic gold medal.
“The aim at the moment is Tokyo, to get through the four-year cycle. I’d like to go one better than Rio and go for that gold.”
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