Emma Weber Channels ‘Inspiration’ of Fellow Regis Jesuit Alum Missy Franklin on Road to Olympics

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Emma Weber Channels ‘Inspiration’ of Fellow Regis Jesuit Alum Missy Franklin on Road to Olympics

Say the words “Regis Jesuit” to a swimming fan and chances are the response would, Missy Franklin. Emma Weber is forcing an update to that game of word association.

The Olympians share an alma mater in Colorado. That state and Regis were so central to Franklin’s journey to six Olympic medals, four world records and status as one of the U.S. program’s most influential Olympians. The rise of someone like Weber in her wake is a testament to Franklin’s influence.

Weber and Franklin were separated by nine years at Regis. Weber, who qualified for the Paris Olympics by finishing second in the women’s 100 breaststroke at U.S. Olympic Trials, recalls watching Franklin swim in high school. It was a determining factor in her choice of school.

“Definitely growing up in Colorado, Missy was the biggest inspiration for all of us,” Weber said. “We would all go to the Regis Jesuit swim meets and crowd into the little pool and watch her swim. When I was deciding where to go to high school, I wanted to go to Regis in part because of Missy and in part because of the academic success that school has.

“Being there and being a part of what Missy has created in Colorado swimming and at Regis means a lot. Being able to carry it on and see her here means the world.”

The pool at Regis Jesuit now bears Franklin’s name, dedicated this spring. Franklin has been in Indianapolis this week to watch Weber get to the Olympics, relishing in the connection to home.

“I think it’s so amazing seeing Emma and what she’s done,” Franklin told Swimming World. “She’s thriving at Virginia, such an incredible program there. But it means so much seeing someone not only represent Colorado at this level of swimming but seeing someone represent my own high school, it means the world. I know I felt so supported and loved by Regis when I was there, and I’m sure all the alums and everyone at the school is out of their minds excited for her right now.”

Their paths are different, to be sure. Franklin was a prodigy, a four-time gold medalist before she’d taken her first classes of senior year. Regis was, for her, the anchor of normalcy after becoming a global figure.

Weber was less heralded coming out of high school, albeit a U.S. junior national teamer and a state champion who swam for Denver Hilltoppers. She’s blossomed at Virginia, alongside a training group that could push its number to near a half-dozen Olympians. She was eighth at NCAAs in the 100 breast as a freshman, then won the B final this spring.

“I think being at UVA last year, my first year, and this year building on the strength I gained that first year helped a lot,” she said. “I’ve been working a lot with Jake (Schrum, associate head coach) and Todd (DeSorbo, head coach) on my strength and my mental ability and just being very present when I’m racing. And it’s definitely paid off.”

Franklin is never short on praise of her alma mater and its effect on her gold-medal journey, in and out of the pool. While she doesn’t have much of a personal connection with Weber yet, she sees the same effects on her.

“I really think I would’ve had a different experience had I been somewhere else, but the fact that I got to go to school every day feeling safe and feeling like I could just go and be Missy despite everything that was going on just meant the world to me,” she said. “So much of what I learned there became the foundation of who I am and the type of person that I wanted to be. And it’s so clear that some of those same values rubbed off on Emma, as well.”

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