Performance: Novi's Camden Murphy

March 21, 2017

Camden Murphy
Novi Swimming & Diving – Senior

Murphy is an accomplished champion as one of the nation’s top swimmers in his age group. This winter, he decided for the first time to compete as part of Novi High School's team, and finished a dominating run March 11 with Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals victories in the 200-yard individual medley and 100 butterfly – with an all-Finals record in the latter – to earn the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week” for March 6-12.

Murphy’s winning 200 IM time of 1:48.99 was more than a second faster than the field. But his butterfly time was the stunner – 46.63 seconds, breaking the former all-Finals record swam in 2011 by Battle Creek Lakeview star Clay Youngquist (who went on to swim at University of Texas) by 48 hundredths of a second. Murphy also swam on second-place 200 medley and fourth-place 400 freestyle relays as Novi as a team finished fourth overall. Murphy earned automatic All-America honors from the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association this season for his IM and butterfly times and also for the 44.78 he swam in the 100 freestyle, while the 400 freestyle relay is under All-America consideration. Murphy will graduate with Novi records in all three of those individual races and as part of the two relays.

This past weekend, Murphy won the butterfly at the National Club Swimming Association Junior National Championships (in 46.58), and he has an eye on eventually making the U.S. national team. He’s signed to continue this fall at the University of Georgia, where he’s considering studying business. He'll leave behind a major impression made in his one high school season – Murphy was named “Division 1 Swimmer of the Year” by the Michigan Interscholastic Swam Coaches Association, but showing his selflessness, said his best memories were watching his teammates hoist a team trophy and coach Brent Pohlonski receive MISCA’s Division 1 coaching award at the meet.   

Coach Brent Pohlonski said: "It was an honor to coach Camden this season. For a swimmer of his caliber to be so humble and team-oriented was very refreshing. Each week he was willing to swim whatever events our team needed him to win. He was very open to suggestions from our entire coaching staff, and the guys on our team loved swimming with him. He is very deserving of all the accolades he is receiving. He is a perfect example of great things happening to great people."

Performance Point: “Honestly, the high school state meet … had the strongest atmosphere,” Murphy said. “It was really loud, really exciting. Everyone takes it really seriously, and that makes it fun. I kinda expected things to turn out the way they did, but a lot of it was a surprise. The state meet was a really big deal; there were a lot of people in the stands, and I wasn’t expecting there to be.”

For the Wildcats: “I thought it would be a really fun experience to be on the high school team, represent Novi. And I knew it would be a good experience to do before going into college swimming, because it’s almost the same thing – balancing school and swimming, being on a team representing your high school.”

Thanks Coach: “He’s very motivational, every single day in and day out. Even during the morning practices at 4:30 in the morning, he’s always in a good mood. He’s always wanting us to get better. Even when we’re super tired for a Monday morning practice, he’s always enthusiastic.”

Big deal beating Youngquist: “I had heard his name for a really long time, and I know he was really fast. (But) not until a few people told me who had raced against him, and told me it was a really big deal ... then it hit me.”

Bulldogs and business: “Right now I’m thinking business. I’ve taken a lot of business classes, and I thought a lot of them are really interesting. I might go into marketing or management, but I’m not sure yet.”

- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2016-17 school year, Second Half and the Michigan National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.

The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Previous 2016-17 honorees:
March 9: Ben Freeman, Walled Lake Central wrestling Read
March 2: Joey Mangner, Chelsea swimming & diving Read
Feb. 23: Isabelle Nguyen, Grosse Pointe North gymnastics – Read
Feb. 16: Dakota Hurbis, Saline swimming & diving – Read
Feb. 2: Foster Loyer, Clarkston basketball Read
Jan. 26: Nick Jenkins, Detroit Catholic Central wrestling – Read
Jan. 19: Eileene Naniseni, Mancelona basketball Read
Jan. 12: Rory Anderson, Calumet hockey – Read
Dec. 15: Demetri Martin, Big Rapids basketball Read
Dec. 1: Rodney Hall, Detroit Cass Tech football Read
Nov. 24: Ally Cummings, Novi volleyball Read
Nov. 17: Chloe Idoni, Fenton volleyball Read
Nov. 10: Adelyn Ackley, Hart cross country Read
Nov. 3: Casey Kirkbride, Mattawan soccer – Read
Oct. 27: Colton Yesney, Negaunee cross country Read
Oct. 20: Varun Shanker, Midland Dow tennis Read
Oct. 13: Anne Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country – Read
Oct. 6: Shuaib Aljabaly, Coldwater cross country – Read
Sept. 29: Taylor Seaman, Brighton swimming & diving – Read
Sept. 22: Maggie Farrell, Battle Creek Lakeview cross country – Read
Sept. 15: Franki Strefling, Buchanan volleyball – Read
Sept. 8: Noah Jacobs, Corunna cross country – Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Novi's Camden Murphy swims the butterfly during a meet this season. (Middle) Murphy, in his only high school season, was named MISCA's "Division 1 Swimmer of the Year." (Photos by John Heider (top) and Brad Emons/Novi News)

Local Dominance Achieved Again, Dow Sets Sights on Statewide Success

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

January 25, 2023

Less than 24 hours after its 2021-22 season ended, the Midland Dow boys swimming & diving team had established its goal for the next year.

Bay & ThumbGet back to the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals, and put Dow back among the best swim teams in the state.

“Even at the state meet last year, we were like, ‘Where are we going to be at when we come back here?’” Dow coach Claire Fries said. “It was the day after the state meet last year, we were already in that mode for next year. The boys have worked hard to meet that goal.”

While the Finals are still more than a month away – March 10 and 11 at the Holland Aquatic Center – Dow has already punched several tickets back to the championship meet.

All three Dow relays have met the Finals-qualifying mark, and at least one Dow swimmer has hit the mark in all but one individual event. In some events, multiple Chargers have qualified.

That’s a far cry from a year ago, when nearly all of Dow’s qualifying times were met in the final meets of the season.

“We’ve had our mindset on it all year,” said Dow senior Thomas Bacigalupo. “We’ve been working on it, practicing in the morning three times a week. On a big piece of paper in our office here, it says, ‘We’re going back,’ and we’re going to succeed. We have a saying that when we can see our goals, we have a higher chance of achieving them.”

Bacigalupo is one of six returning Finals qualifiers for Dow, joining his twin brother Tyler, senior Harrison Schuster, juniors Noah Buist and Nathan Velez, and sophomore Eli Soderberg.  

That core made it easy to see why the Chargers were excited well before a single qualifying time had been accomplished.

Thomas Bacigalupo, second from left on starting block, prepares to lead off the B heat of the 400 freestyle relay. “From last year’s team, we had almost everybody come back, and our team is full of depth this year with the freshman class we brought in,” Soderberg said. “We still have all that talent and all that speed. Those expectations, last year, were for all of us just to get to the state meet and qualify top 16 and all of that. Now, this year, we can actually make a run for stuff.”

Qualifying as many swimmers for the Finals as early as they have is a good sign for the Chargers. So is winning their 20th-straight Tri-Cities championship, which they accomplished this past weekend at Saginaw Valley State.

It’s a streak that predates the birth of any current Dow swimmer, and very nearly their coach.

“I think our goal is to keep that streak going as long as we can,” Tyler Bacigalupo said. “It shows the work ethic of all the guys in the past. But we also try to think of it like every regular meet, and just go out there and do our thing.”

For Fries, who is in her fourth year with the program and third as head coach, the Tri-Cities meet is about more than just continuing the streak. 

“It’s more about a celebration of our community here,” she said. “What I stress to the boys is that this is really about representing Dow and the Tri-City community, and being able to compete and race with these kids that you’re with all year round. That’s more of what I put the focus on.”

With their local dominance established again, the Chargers continue to look to establish themselves on a bigger stage, and from what Fries has seen from her swimmers this season, it’s something she thinks they’re capable of accomplishing.

“We have nine seniors on our team, and they definitely are motivated,” she said. “They wanted to show that Dow is a good swim program, and one that should be respected anywhere in the state. Our boys are really motivated to compete with anybody in the state. That drive for competition has really fueled our team and made our team really close.”

Dow has twice been Finals runner-up, in 2006 and 2008 both in LP Division 2. The Chargers felt they had a chance to win it all in 2020, but that meet never happened as it was canceled because of the pandemic. 

Rather than say “what if?” regarding their freshman year, the seniors are looking forward.

“We want to be top five and really put Midland Dow back on the map,” Tyler Bacigalupo said. “That (2020) was our best chance of being on top in states, but we want to put Dow back on the map again. Our tennis team and our hockey team have done it, now we just want to bring some attention to us.”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Midland Dow’s Noah Buist launches into a race during last season’s LPD2 Finals. (Middle) Thomas Bacigalupo, second from left on starting block, prepares to lead off the B heat of the 400 freestyle relay. (Photos by High School Sports Scene.)