While far too much of the focus has been on the bizarre incident involving Ryan Lochte, another storyline emerged within the swimming world during the Rio Olympics: the domination of several events by swimmers who trained in Jacksonville.
This domination was led by Ryan Murphy, a 2013 graduate of Bolles who is currently a student at UC-Berkeley. Murphy won three gold medals in Rio, including a world-record setting performance in the 100 meter backstroke.
He seems poised to become the next swimming superstar after his run at this year’s Olympic events – especially after another superstar (Lochte) just lost most of his sponsorships.
Another Bolles graduate, Joseph Schooling, won gold competing for Singapore in the 100 meter butterfly – beating his idol, U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps. Schooling graduated from Bolles in 2014 and currently attends the University of Texas.
UF’s Caeleb Dressel, who swam with Bolles’ Sharks club team and graduated from Clay High School, won two gold medals (4×100 freestyle relay, 4×100 medley relay). In the medley relay, Murphy was one of his teammates.
Bolles graduates George Bovell (Trinidad & Tobago) and Santo Condorelli (Canada), and former Sharks team member Omar Pinzon (Colombia) also competed. Condorelli missed out on a bronze medal in the 100 meter freestyle by fractions of a second.
Altogether, swimmers who trained in Jacksonville brought home six gold medals, accounting for an impressive 13% of the final U.S. gold medal tally.
So what is it that’s propelling Jacksonville to Olympic greatness?
It all seems to come back to Bolles, the college prep school long known for dominating high school swimming and football in the area. The school’s swim team, the Bolles Sharks, has produced 13 Olympic medalists, including Murphy, Schooling, and Dressel. The boys’ swim team has a 28-year winning streak at the state championships; the girls’ team has a 25-year streak. The school has an Olympic-sized pool used for training year-round, and encourages students to begin swimming at a young age.
It’s certainly great to see Bolles – and Jacksonville in general – have so much success on such a big stage. These great swimmers, not Lochte’s stupidity, should be the real story of these Olympics.