By CHSAA Hall of Famer Marcia Neville, CU Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus
Her dad must have known something when he nicknamed Missy Franklin “Missy the Missile” long before she competed at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
That’s where “The Missile” exploded to win four gold medals, five medals total and set a World Record 2:04:06 in the 200M backstroke that stands more than six years later.
When she left for the games, Franklin was a confident, outgoing 17-year-old, and a senior-to-be at Regis Jesuit High School, who already had a remarkable resume.
Four years earlier, when she was just a seventh grader at Powell Middle School in Littleton, Franklin had qualified to compete in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for the Beijing Games. She didn’t make Team USA, but her efforts earned her the Most Promising Athlete award from Sportswomen of Colorado.
“I was so honored to receive the Sportswomen award,” Franklin remembered. “But, I was a little worried about the pressure because I’d won it at such a young age. Instead, I ended up being blown away by the support I was receiving and the faith that people in Colorado seemed to have in me.”
Franklin’s success at the London Games, combined with her engaging personality and quick smile made her an international celebrity. She was as well-known for the lip-sync video of the Carly Rae Jepson song “Call me Maybe” that she and her teammates enthusiastically recorded, as she was for her dominance in the pool.
Franklin stared out with the Heritage Greens Gators, went on to the Colorado Stars club team, Regis Jesuit, Team USA and the University California, Berkeley teams.
Through it all, Franklin has always been a proud Colorado sportswoman and after the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, she appreciated the encouragement she received at home more than ever. Despite returning with another gold medal, her overall results left her disappointed and discouraged.
“The love and support I felt in Colorado after one of the hardest months of my life truly changed who I was as a person. It taught me the invaluable lesson that I had so much more to offer the world than just swimming, that it’s who you are as a person that matters the most.”
Franklin announced her retirement from competitive swimming in December, saying it was an extremely difficult decision. She cited continuing shoulder pain, despite recent efforts and looks to a bright future.
“This is no means the end. Rather, I choose to look at this as a new beginning.” She hopes to inspire future swimming and looks forward to a new role as a wife and mother.
Over the years, Franklin’s been honored with three Athlete of the Year Awards by the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. It was just a matter of time before she added “Colorado Sports Hall of Famer” to her resume.
The love and support I felt in Colorado after one of the hardest months of my life truly changed who I was as a person. It taught me the invaluable lesson that I had so much more to offer the world than just swimming, that it’s who you are as a person that matters the most.