Remember high school? The typical 8-to-3 day, hanging out at the same place with the same people for lunch every day, and taking the SAT? Such is the life of 17-year-old Missy Franklin. But she’s more than just your average teenager.
At the US Olympic Swimming Trials, Franklin qualified for seven races. That’s more than any other American swimming female ever has. She’ll be swimming in the 100m and 200m freestyle, the 100m and 200m backstroke, and three relays.
Franklin’s primed to be a breakout star at London just like Phelps was in Athens in 2004. At age 19, Phelps won eight medals, six of them gold. Franklin could medal in all seven events, which would be a feat no American woman has ever accomplished in one Olympic games. Winning four or five gold medals isn’t out of the question either.
For Franklin, the Phelps’ comparisons are endless. Both she and Phelps have bodies built for swimming. Franklin is 6-feet-1 with a 6-foot-4 wingspan. That’s picture perfect for a female swimmer. It’s the reason Phelps’ coach, Bob Bowman, describes her as “The closest thing to Michael (he’s seen)”.
Franklin’s work ethic and drive mirror Phelps’. Each week, she has six to eight two-hour practices and three additional hour-long practices with her trainer. She also trains at the US Olympic Training Center weekly. In all, Franklin totals nearly 20 hours of swimming a week along with juggling school.
Like Phelps in 2004, this is just Act I for Franklin. When she returns in 2016 at age 21 and in her prime, she could possibly win eight gold medals. Phelps will likely become the most decorated Olympian of all time in a few weeks, but Franklin may wind up to be the most decorated female Olympian of all time when it’s all said and done.
But with great expectations, comes great pressure. Good thing Franklin doesn’t know that. She’s cracks jokes in practice frequently and is all laughs. While training with her Olympic teammates in France recently, Franklin even started randomly break dancing at the team hotel.
So what’s next for this 17-year-old high school senior-to-be? Taking center stage at the Olympic Games and in the next era of US swimming.