It's the moments before the race that are the toughest. In tennis, Emily Murnin is able to pace the upcoming matches and visualize how she will defeat her opponent, but swimming is different.
The races are so quick.
Everything has to be done in a split second.
The moments that lead up to the starting bell can weigh on her.
Like everything in the senior's life, Murnin approaches it with focus and dedication. She is a Renaissance woman who won the 3A second singles tennis title and also plays the viola in the school orchestra. She's on track to be valedictorian, is a member of the National Honor Society and already is looking forward to pursuing a pre-med education at top schools in the nation.
But before every race, she is just Emily trying to get focused, listening to her headphones and planning her race before taking the platform to start. It's the moment she enters the water that everything in the world disappears and she focuses on swimming at her best.
"You got to work for it," Murnin said. "It takes discipline and motivation to excel at anything in life. I approach everything with this attitude."
Murnin's attitude is a balance of individual achievement and commitment to the team. She competes for herself and her squad, working simultaneously to improve both. For nine out of the past 10 seasons, the girls swimming team at Judge Memorial has dominated. But with the departure of last year's senior class, this could be the year that the Bulldogs are unseated.
"It's not the size or depth of the team it's about commitment," Murnin said. "You can never predict who wins state."
With a 25 swimmers on roster, Murnin will be counted on to demonstrate the leadership she showed during the tennis season. It's not just her dominance in the breaststroke and backstroke that makes her one of the captains, it's the example she sets for the underclassmen.
"She's always been a captain in training," Judge coach Matt Finnigan said. "She's really bright and obviously going places. She's the kind of kid that others look to."
Murnin's leadership on the tennis court will give her the confidence to work toward another state title for Judge. The social aspect of the team drives her to do her best in the water and raise the performance of her teammates.
"Through tennis, it's been a really gratifying experience learning how to be a leader of a whole team," Murnin said. "It's going to be a really good season for us."
About Emily Murnin
Emily Murnin cites U.S. Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin as one of her idols and notes Franklin's decision to attend school as a motivating factor.
Murnin is applying to 23 colleges, including NYU, Notre Dame and Pomona, with the intention to play tennis.
She started playing the piano and violin before focusing on the viola. Judge Memorial's orchestra is working on the school's Christmas pageant.