Missy Franklin, a five-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist, has relocated from California to Athens, Ga., and she is now training at the University of Georgia. The news was originally reported by the Associated Press, and Georgia head coach Jack Bauerle confirmed the news to Swimming World Thursday evening.
Franklin had been training with Cal men’s coach Dave Durden for the past year but has not competed since the Olympics in Rio, where she flamed out of the semi-finals of both the 200 free and 200 back. She had double shoulder surgery in early 2017 but says that she is now fully healthy.
The report from the Associated Press cites Franklin’s desire to swim with a combined-gender program, like that at Georgia, and also to be closer to both extended family in the peach state and to her former college roommate, who lives in Atlanta.
“I really struggled with that (decision) for a while because I looked at it from a selfish perspective,” Franklin told The Associated Press. “It really isn’t a selfish decision. I started thinking about the road I have ahead of me. I started looking at options, which is really big for me.”
Franklin competed for the Cal women’s team under Teri McKeever from 2013 to 2015 but turned professional after that season. She returned to Colorado that summer to train with high school coach Todd Schmitz and then began training with Durden when she returned to Cal following the 2016 Olympics. Franklin has never swum with Bauerle full-time, but she was familiar with him from National Team trips and Georgia had been the runner-up to Cal in her initial college search.
Even though she is no longer training with Durden, she credited the Cal coach for helping keep her in the pool during a tough time in her life.
“I can truly say I don’t know if I would still be swimming if it wasn’t for Dave Durden,” Franklin said, according to the AP. “He’s one of those coaches that want the best for me.”
Franklin is continuing to pursue her degree in psychology at Georgia, and she is three semesters away from graduating. She told the Associated Press that she is targeting a return to competition, with the focus on this summer’s U.S. Nationals in Irvine, Calif. She may compete at TYR Pro Swim Series events before then.
“I’m kind of coming back from the bottom,” she told the AP. “I could feel pressure because people are expecting a comeback, but I don’t care. I don’t really care what kind of pressure people are putting on me because I can’t control that.”
Read the full Associated Press report here.