Helena High's Kate Murphy -- a four-year letterman who helped the Lady Bengals to the 2013 State AA championship as a freshman -- leaves the program with 12 All-State medals: Seven for individual races, and five as a member of the relays.
She also leaves as the Independent Record's Super Team Swimmer of the Year.
Julie Youngblood, who coaches both the HHS and CHS teams, said that Murphy is “a great swimmer” because of her dedication, hard work, and natural talent.
“This year was especially satisfying as Kate was able to work past some self-doubts about her abilities and was able to believe in herself as much as we believed in her,” said Youngblood. “This resulted in her breaking times that had been eluding her and performing at the state meet at a level that was exciting for all of us to witness.
“Kate has had a great influence on the team in so many ways -- she is a strong, supportive team player and her positive outlook and high energy keeps everyone excited about the team and each individual’s performances.”
Murphy opened the latest season with a pair of wins in the Butte Duals in early December. The following week, at the 10-team Butte Invitational, she swept the 50 and 100 freestyles, in 25.92 and 57.34 seconds.
At the six-team Missoula Hellgate meet, she captured the 100 backstroke in 1:01.86, and placed runner-up in the 100 free.
Then Murphy swept the 100 free and 100 back (1:01.50) at the four-team Great Falls meet, prior to the nine-team Stacey Frey Memorial in the Electric City, where she swam to victory in the 100 back and finished second in the 100 free.
In a dual meet versus Billings Skyview, she swept the 100 free (season best 56.66) and 100 back. Next came the Bohn-Mohrer Memorial -- which was moved to Great Falls due to the Carroll College pool closure -- where Murphy placed fourth in the 500 free and fifth in the 100 free.
She then capped off her career at the State Meet in Great Falls, posting a third-place finish in the 100 backstroke in 1:00.96, and finishing fifth in the 100 free in 54.71.
Murphy was also part of both Lady Bengal relays, with Katie Summers, Jesse Ecklund and Sarah Krattiger, which took third in the 400 free relay, and fourth in the 200 free relay.
HHS just missed the state’s third-place trophy, finishing fourth with 106.5 points, a mere half point point behind C.M. Russell's 107.
“I’m really grateful and happy,” Murphy said, when asked about the IR Swimmer of the Year recognition. She also credited former teammates Emma Foster, Libby Hardwick and Callan Blossom for “pushing me to be better.
“There was a point in swimming when I wanted to quit, and Emma convinced me to stay. And Libby and Callan were also very inspirational to me."
When the 5-foot-9 Murphy isn't in the pool, she's on the dance floor as a ballerina, having participated in ballet as long as swimming. She took up both sports at the ripe old age of 5 -- with the Helena Lions Swim Team and the Allegra School of Dance -- and “cherishes each equally.”
A 4.0 GPA valedictorian at Helena High, Murphy will continue swimming at the college level at the University of Mary, after earning both a merit scholarship and a $10,000 annual athletic scholarship.
“Kate Murphy has a great sense of organization … she has been a wonderful influence on the team for the last four years, and will be missed as she moves into the next phase of her life,” Youngblood said. “But the energy and enthusiasm that she has for the team and the sport will continue to affect all of us for the many seasons to come.”