A mother’s lifetime fear of the water ends up turning into gold, literally, in the story of Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin. From her childhood in Centennial, Colo., to the Olympic Stadium in London and back again, 21-year-old Missy has lived an accomplished life. The best may be still to come this summer in Rio.
The 2016 Summer Olympics will bring many first-time and seasoned athletes to Rio de Janeiro this August. One of the most popular returning athletes will be Missy Franklin.
Missy’s Early Life
Born to Dick and D.A. Franklin in Pasadena, Calif., in 1995, Melissa Jeanette Franklin has been swimming nearly since age five. She learned after her physician mother decided that she didn’t want her daughter to be afraid of the water, as she herself had been.
At 15, Missy competed in her first international swimming event, the Duel in the Pool. The following year, she received USA Swimming’s 2010 Golden Goggles award for Breakout Performer of the Year. At 17, Franklin earned five medals – including three gold – and broke her first world record at the 2011 FINA World Cup.
At the 2008 Olympic Trials, Missy’s dad gave his 6’1” daughter the nickname “Missy the Missile.” At first, she was less than fond of this nickname – especially as her dad teased her by getting it printed on hot pink shorts for her. Today, she has grown to like it and owns a pair of Nike shoes with the phrase on them.
Missy’s 2012 Olympic Success
Every high school senior has an eventful, overbooked year. Missy’s senior year, however, was one for the history books.
The first-time Olympic swimmer earned five medals in London. In addition to a bronze medal in the 4-by-100 meter freestyle relay, she earned four gold medals:
Perhaps even more impressive is the timing: Missy won her 100-meter backstroke gold as the second of back-to-back races! She had only 14 minutes between that race and the 200-meter freestyle semi-finals. In fact, she could only complete about a quarter of her normal cool-down swimming routine before attempting the gold.
Her second gold medal was won alongside teammates Dana Vollmer, Allison Schmitt, and Shannon Vreeland in the 4-by-200 meter freestyle relay.
Another 2012 Olympic highlight for Franklin was the 200-meter backstroke. Before the race, she’d stated her goals as simply doing her best and getting her best time. Ultimately, she set a world record in an upset victory over Russian swimmer Anastasia Zueva!
The Road to Rio
In March of 2015, Missy announced her decision to go pro. After two years of collegiate swimming and leading UC Berkeley’s Golden Bears to the NCAA team championship in 2015, Missy followed through with plans she had made after the 2012 Olympics.
Although the psychology major maintains a 3.5 GPA and plans to earn her degree, she has lightened her class load to set her sights on the 2016 Olympic games.
To secure her place on the U.S. Olympic swim team, she will join about 2,000 other swimmers for the Olympic trials, slated for June 26-July 3. She has high hopes to keep her 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke titles and to keep her place in the freestyle and medley relays.