Gloucester Catholic senior swimmers Matt Murphy and Jacob Narvid stood out in more ways than one at last Tuesday’s Tri-County Conference Showcase at GCIT.
It was a record-setting day for the seniors as Narvid broke the meet record in the 500-yard freestyle and Murphy did the same in the 100-yard breaststroke. The two also teamed up with sophomore Tanner Jones and junior Jason Ruggieri to set a new meet record in the 200-yard medley relay.
Murphy and Narvid also stood out for the shirts they wore on the pool deck. The two were among several Gloucester Catholic swimmers who were wearing matching button-down shirts sporting an array of colors and palm trees. The shirts, also worn by the Gloucester Catholic coaching staff, were introduced several years ago by long-time Rams swimming coach Kevin Nolan. Murphy said the shirts were given to Gloucester Catholic swimmers who qualified for states last year.
“We get to walk around here and everyone is looking at us saying, ‘who is that?’” Murphy said about wearing the shirts. “We’re Gloucester Catholic. It pretty much trademarks who we are.”
For the past four years, Murphy and Narvid have been a big part of the Rams’ long run of success. Murphy is a four-time NJSIAA Meet of Champions qualifier who placed sixth in the state last year in his best event, the 100-yard breaststroke. Narvid is one of the state’s best in the 500-yard freestyle, having made the finals at the Meet of Champions in each of the last two years. The two are now hoping to take Gloucester Catholic to somewhere the team hasn’t been in five years: the NJSIAA Non-Public B state finals. The Rams have lost in the semifinals in each of Murphy and Narvid’s first three seasons.
“We’re ready to make an even better (playoff) run this year,” Murphy said.
To say Murphy and Narvid have made their mark on the Gloucester Catholic swimming program is an understatement. The evidence is in the many records the pair set in just a four-day span in late January.
Matt Murphy won the 200IM in a new team record of 1:55.48
Matt also won the breast in a time of 58.31
Jake Narvid won the 500 free in a new meet record of 4:30.31
Jake also won the 100 back in a new school record 51.10
— Gloucester Catholic Athletics (@GCRamsAthletics) January 27, 2020
On the Saturday prior to the Tri-County Conference Showcase, Murphy and Narvid each had an outstanding day at the South Jersey Coaches’ Invitational. Narvid set a new meet record in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:30.31, breaking the mark he had set one year prior. Narvid also set a school record in the 100-yard backstroke, while Murphy broke the program record in the 200-yard individual medley. Finally, Narvid and Murphy teamed up with sophomore Tanner Jones and junior Jason Ruggieri to break the program record in the 200-yard medley relay.
Of all the records set at the South Jersey Invitational, Murphy and Narvid spoke most excitedly about the medley relay record they set with Jones and Ruggieri, saying it was a mark they had their eyes on for a while.
“The medley relay, it was known even last year that we wanted to break that record,” Narvid said. “Going into that, we were all excited.”
“There was so much emotion,” Murphy added. “It was great to come out with a win and start off the meet right. But being able to win with these guys as well as to take (first) for a second year in a row is just a great experience.”
Murphy and Narvid helped the Rams finish fourth in the B Division at the South Jersey Invitational. Two of the three teams Gloucester Catholic finished behind were defending Public Group B state champion Mainland and South Jersey Public Group C defending champion Haddonfield.
“The team goal was to place in the top three, but we were swimming with the strongest teams in the area,” Murphy said. “To be able to swim with that competition was great for us.”
Murphy and Narvid are just as focused on the Rams’ team success as their individual accomplishments. The two also helped Gloucester Catholic sweep through the Tri-County Conference Classic Division with an undefeated record this season.
“It’s really fun,” Murphy said about swimming at Gloucester Catholic. “We only lost two seniors last year so most of the team was coming back. It really helps because we all know each other. We had seven seniors this year so there was a lot of experience on the team.”
“Hopefully we can make a name for ourselves in the playoffs,” Murphy added.
Both Murphy and Narvid will be swimming for Division-I programs next year, with Murphy planning to attend the Naval Academy and Narvid heading to the University of Tennessee. But before their high school careers come to a close, Murphy and Narvid still hope to make a splash at the Meet of Champions on Feb. 29 and March 1. Murphy is aiming to reach the A final of the 100-yard breaststroke for a second straight year, while Narvid hopes to contend for a top spot in the 500-yard freestyle after finishing second in preliminaries, but sixth in the finals in 2019.
“I’m just excited to see what the competition holds,” Narvid said. “We have young people coming up trying to race us. We got some veterans coming in.
“It’s going to be fast.”