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Camden Murphy, a sophomore from Novi, Michigan, puts on his cap during the evening session on the first day of competition at the SEC Swim and Dive Championships on Feb. 19, 2019 at the Gabrielsen Natatorium in Athens, Georgia. Competition will continue in sessions until Saturday. (Photo/Julian Alexander)

When Camden Murphy dove into the pool to swim the 100-yard butterfly at Thursday night’s SEC championship finals, he didn’t feel like it was his strongest start.

Head coach Jack Bauerle himself noticed a small twitch in Murphy’s dive, and Murphy sensed the pressure to increase his speed at the first turn of the race.

Yet despite the initial miscue, Murphy swam to a third-place finish. His 45.26 time also set a new Georgia record in the 100 fly, outdoing his previous personal-best 45.47, the third-place school record he set last December.

“It’s amazing because he had a rough start,” Bauerle said. “He twitched a little bit, and I think it cost him just enough. But when you get your lifetime best here, you’re moving. What a great swim that was.”

Florida’s Maxime Rooney notched a 45.06 time for first place in the event, while Liam McCloskey of Auburn touched the wall close behind at 45.11. Both finishes landed the SEC swimmers within A-cut time classification, which gives them automatic invitations to the NCAA championships in March.

Now in his sophomore season, Murphy’s placement in the 100 fly improved upon his freshman effort by three spots, when a 45.94 time landed him in sixth place at the 2018 SEC championships.

This season, Murphy made a point to cultivate his strength, taking up regular weight training to improve his performance. On Thursday, it paid off.

“I could definitely tell that last 50 [yards],” Murphy said. “Those liftings have definitely helped.”

Murphy also attributed his development to increased comfort with the rowdiness of an electric SEC championship atmosphere, since he knew what to expect in his second go around.

“Last year, I was a lot more anxious just because I was a freshman,” Murphy said. “This year, I’m a lot more relaxed… I’m having a lot more fun not thinking too much about what everybody else is doing, just focusing on our team and myself.”

Murphy’s placement in the 100 fly contributed to the men’s 436 points through the first three days, as the Bulldogs ended Thursday in sixth overall, up one spot from Wednesday. Earning 636 points, the Florida men’s team emerged at first place after day three with Missouri trailing close behind at a second-place 625 points.

Heading into tomorrow’s races firmly cemented in Georgia 100 fly history, Murphy seeks to break more records and notch an even higher placement in Friday’s 200-yard butterfly.

“Got a real big day tomorrow,” Bauerle said. “We [have] the [200] fly, which is going to be big for us. Camden will be involved in that also.”

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