Australian Paralympic Swimmer | 2016 Rio Paralympics
In 2014, Monique was involved in an accident, falling from a 5th floor balcony which ultimately led to her right leg amputated below the knee. Along with numerous broken bones, injuries and a life threatening cut to her neck, Monique began hydrotherapy for rehabilitation just one month after her final surgery and within 5 months was back training. Within a year she was selected for the 2015, Australian Dolphins Swim World Championship Team and finaled in a number of events.
Monique then qualified for the Rio Paralympics in April 2016 where she won a Silver Medal in the Women’s 400 Freestyle.
After recently moving to the Gold Coast to train at Southport Olympic, Monique is also a full time student studying a Bachelor of Social Work. We are so excited to have Monique on board as a Protein Bread Co Athlete, her phenomenal story is truly inspiring.
Hometown: Born in Wellington, New Zealand and grew up in Canberra
Favourite Pancake Topping: Maple syrup, whipped cream and berries
2016 – Rio Paralympic Games: Silver medal 400 Freestyle, 10th S10 100 Freestyle, 11th S10 100 Backstroke, 12th S10 50 Freestyle
2016 – Australian Open Championships: Multi Classification 400 Freestyle Champion, and S10 Australian Record Holder
2015 – Australian open Short Course Championships: Multi Classification 400 Freestyle Champion. Short Course S10 400 Freestyle World Record Holder
2015 – Glasgow IPC World Championships: 6th S10 400 Freestyle, 7th S10 100 Butterfly
2015 – Australian Open Championships: Multi Classification 2nd place 400 Freestyle, and selection onto first Australian Dolphins Swim Team
2017 World Championships
2018 Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast
2018 Para Pan Pacific Championships
2019 World Championships
2020 Summer Paralympics, Tokyo
We recently caught up with Monique to ask her a few questions….
Tell us about ‘Monique Mermaid Murphy”?
Where does the ‘Mermaid’ fit in? Through a support foundation, Limbs 4 Life, I met Mike Rolls, who wore 2 prosthetic fins when scuba diving. He sparked the idea of a mermaid fin if I were to return to swimming. The Royal Melbourne Hospital Prosthetics Department helped turned this into a reality. The fin attached the same way as my prosthetic leg, but in place of a foot, is a flipper. The fin is covered in shiny blue scales. It is quite heavy and does not make me swim faster, but allows me to engage all the muscles in my leg and helps my balance. It is a fantastic training aid, and makes me feel like a real life mermaid.
Why do you think swimming helped with your rehabilitation so much?
The first time I hit the water one month after my final surgery, I felt liberated. I felt free and not constrained by my missing leg. Being in the water allowed me to move without pain (because I didn’t have to wear a prosthetic) and get some much needed exercise in. Swimming each day justified spending the rest of the day on the couch! Swimming also helped me sleep better and contributed to the huge reduction in pain.
Swimming always puts a smile on my face and is the one thing I can do each day where my leg can’t be an excuse.
What was running through your head the moment you knew you had won a Silver medal in the Rio Paralympics?
The 400 Freestyle in Rio was a tough race. I knew the field I was going up against and how experienced they were in comparison to myself. Before I turned to see the results, I was already proud because I had given every last ounce of effort in the race and truly put forward my best effort- which is always my goal. Seeing the number ‘2’ next to my name simply made everything I had been through in the last 900 days worth it. It made the 12 years or swimming as a child, the early mornings, the sacrifices, all worth it. The next thing I did was find my family in the stands. I swam that race for them, and to give them that moment after everything we had gone through was magic.
How often do you train and what else do you get up to when you’re not in the pool!
I swim 8-9 times per week along with 3 gym sessions. I see a Physio each week to help keep my various niggles from my accident in check and do a pilates class for stability. I also study full time at Griffith University undertaking a Bachelor of Social Work. I have been a volunteer with St Vincent de Paul youth since I was 16, and am an Ambassador for Share the Dignity, helping homeless women in Australia and supporting families effected by domestic violence. I have a ginger cat named Rio and I love anything that gets adrenaline going, I’ve been skydiving twice, and love to travel.