Missy Franklin finds silver lining, but hopes for gold
Missy Franklin was the first U.S. female swimmer to compete in seven events in a single Games at the 2012 London Olympics. She took home five medals: four golds (100m and 200m backstrokes, 4x200m freestyle relay and the 4x100m medley relay) and a bronze (4x100m freestyle relay). She also finished fifth in the 100m freestyle and fourth – by 0.01 seconds – in the 200m freestyle.
For 2016, now as a newly-professional athlete with sponsor obligations to fulfill on top of the pressure of larger-than-life expectations, the maximum she’ll compete in are three events with an opportunity as many medals. So why does it feel like a disappointment for the bubbly star of the 2012 Olympics?
Franklin kicked off her competition schedule at the U.S. Olympic Trials this week in Omaha, Nebraska with a disappointing finish in the 100m backstroke – seventh. She did not qualify to defend her first individual gold medal from the 2012 Olympics.
Franklin, the 2013 world champion in the 200m freestyle, then finished second to the 2015 world champion in the event, Katie Ledecky. Both edged 2012 Olympic gold medalist in the event, Allison Schmitt, for individual berths in the event at the 2016 Olympics. The trio, alongside Leah Smith, will join together to form the 4x200m freestyle relay that will likely be a force to be reckoned with in Rio. U.S. women have won all gold medals (barring one bronze in 2008) in that event since its inauguration 20 years ago at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Next on Franklin’s agenda was to tackle the 100m freestyle. Instead, she missed out in the final and finished 11th overall, likely keeping her off the 4x100m freestyle relay.
In the 200m backstroke, Franklin’s last event in the Trials docket, she finished in 2:07.89 to grab the second spot behind Trials breakout star Maya DiRado.
Franklin qualified to defend her only other individual gold medal from the London Games. It’s the event where she also holds the world and American record.
While her trip to the 2016 Olympics might have a lighter schedule than she hoped, it’ll provide new opportunities as well. She’ll be spending a lot more time in the U.S.’ cheering section, something she told media she hasn’t really been able to do since the 2011 World Championships.
“It might be really nice to go to an Olympics and really enjoy the experience instead of swimming so much,” she said.