Missy Franklin Returning to Cal-Berkeley

Photo Courtesy: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Following the Olympic Games, Missy Franklin will be returning to Cal-Berkeley to finish up her degree and continue to train. Franklin confirmed the news on ABC’s Good Morning America Monday morning.

“I’m heading back to Cal-Berkeley, and I’m so excited about it. There’s so much I’m looking forward to getting back to there: getting back with my team, getting back with Athletes in Action, all these different groups that I’ve missed being part of this past year, so I couldn’t be excited.”

Franklin won gold in Rio as a member of the U.S. 800 free relay squad, on which she competed in the prelims, but Franklin was left off the finals squad in favor of Allison SchmittLeah SmithMaya DiRado and Katie Ledecky. She also missed the finals in the 200 free and 200 back, the latter in which she was the defending Olympic champion. Franklin did not even qualify for the U.S. Olympic team in the 100 free or 100 back.

Franklin won four gold medals four years ago in London, and she added a record six World titles to her resume a year later. Her two-year NCAA career at Cal-Berkeley was rocky, and back spasms were a major setback at the 2014 Pan Pacs, but Franklin bounced back with a three-victory performance at the 2015 NCAA Championships in Greensboro, leading Cal to a team title.

Franklin, as had been planned all along, went pro after two years at Cal, and she returned home to Colorado to train under coach Todd Schmitz during the spring of 2015. But a not-great World Championships in 2015 was followed by a 2016 season that she calls “by far the most disappointed I’ve been with any athletic performance.”

“It just wasn’t my week. It’s heartbreaking that all the hard work and sacrifices I made didn’t show up, but I know that they will, eventually, and I know that I will be so much stronger after this experience,” Franklin said.

“I think I have so much left to learn from the sport, so much left to give to it, so I would love to be in 2020.”

Watch Franklin’s full GMA interview here:

19 Comments

19 comments

  1. avatar

    Every fan of American Swimming should send a letter of thanks to Missy Franklin for being such a class act in the midst of her struggles while her team was flourishing in RIO. It takes an extraordinary person to handle such high expectations, disappointment and consideration for others, the way she has.

    In some ways this has been your greatest Olympics.

    Thank you Missy Franklin!!!

    • avatar
      Bob O'Connell

      She’s a class act. Wish Rio had gone better for her.

    • avatar
      William Baim

      Count me in praising her for showing a class in spite of a disappointment in Olympics. She contributed as a relay member that US women won in the heat She also give her big support to her swimming mates.

    • avatar
      marklewis

      There’s no reason to “thank” her.

      She’s trying to save face after a poor performance that was in stark contrast to all her USA teammates.

      Surprising that the USA coaching staff couldn’t get her going.

      I hope she figures out why she had a bad meet and gets her mojo back.

      • avatar

        Mark, my point in that most athletes won’t be able to control their emotions with such enormous disappointment and their ‘pain’ will negatively affect the team. Watching her interviews and her comments about ‘team’ I’m guessing she was the rare bird that did not do that. From my involvement coaching swimming, that is special person. Soon we will hear from the Olympic coaching staff and know for sure.

      • avatar
        Cindy

        What’s Ronda Rousey doing these days? Didn’t see much of her after the Holly Holms thing. Last time I heard of her was when Ellen DeGeneres interviewed her. Missy Franklin seems like such a friendly, and optimistic person.

  2. avatar
    Bill Bell

    Far be it from me to tell an Olympic gold- medalist — pardon, a MULTI- Olympic gold-medalist /world record- holder/NCAA champ how to,run her railroad let alone her life but..BUT dollars to donuts had she never left Berserkeley after the ’15 college season, stayed and trained there (even had she turned pro then) I dare say her fortunes @ Rio would have been quite different.

    In any event good luck w/ the rest of your career and show ’em @ Budapest next year what the REAL Missy Franklin can do.

    And congratulations on taking your lumps @ Rio and not letting it get you down. After all it was Just another swim meet! No big deal.

    ,

  3. avatar
    Mimi Ward

    So is she no longer “pro” if she is returning to collegiate swimming?

    • avatar
      Lisa

      She is not returning to college swimming. She went pro and can not go back according to NCAA rules. She is returning to swim with them .

  4. avatar
    Wahooswimfan

    NCAA now lets medal winners keep their earnings for medals, they should let Missy regain her college eligibility (and let other swimmers keep earnings from endorsements too); The time window for athletes other than revenue sports (football, baseball, basketball) is too short to deny them that opportunity. besides, it might enhance viewership on the various conference networks if they could watch the top Olympians in action in college – imagine the ratings for the PAC10 network women’s gymnastics if Simone Biles were allowed to compete; or Franklin and Cal vs. Ledecky, Manuel and Stanford? With each of the big 5 conferences now launching 24/7/365 networks, they need content to fill the air – and allowing athletes who have pro/endorsement income, but who are of college age, to compete could really give those networks a boost. You might even get swimmers, other athletes from Europe, Asia, Australia coming to the US for college and boosting global interest in US college sports.

    • avatar
      Pl

      Many pro-, Cal swimmers train at Cal, but do not compete in NCAA. This this has included Nathan Adrian, Natalie Coughlin and others. There has long been a great training and coaching program for these category of swimmers. I think Missy will thrive under this program.

  5. avatar
    YY

    Love is blind. There was no disappointment and no class act. Franklin was rested and tapered at trials and barely made to the team. She knew beforehand that there would be no success in Rio unless she gets extremely lucky. I didn’t happen. And yet there are still neither explanations, nor sincere talks to her fans. Just “blah, blah, blah,…., I’m good, it was one bad race today, I’ve never been stronger, you will see it tomorrow. Believe in me”. But “tomorrow” was even worse. Some people call it optimism, some call it denial, some call it “first class act”.
    Cate Campbell’s fiasco was a disappointment. Pellegrini after very promising personal bests (53.18 and 1:54.55) bounced back to the Kazan’s level. That was the disappointment of the great swimmer missing the chance to medal at her last Olympic Games. Nothing like that in Franklin’s case. The expectations were low, especially from coaching staff.
    She said she put all in the race. Well, we saw how the pain and exhaustion looked like when Ryan Murphy won the gold medal at 200 or Katie Ledecky was racing Sarah Sjostrom. Franklin’s very ordinary races haven’t given such impression.
    She is moving to California. To start the new chapter in her life of professional swimmer. Whatever it would be I wish her good luck in finding her niche. But as the person who followed her very attentively, I have a bad feeling that she is done as elite swimmer.

  6. avatar
    Ty Le

    Missy’s positive attitude, support of her USA team, and appreciation of the sport is an inspiration. Often times in our culture of obsession with winning, we teach our children that you’re not worthy if you’re not a winner. That teaches them that failure is not winning… failure should be redefined as not trying or being cocky when you do win IMO.

    I can’t believe I’m even addressing this, but some of the negative comments are baffling. Don’t pretend like you know Missy’s efforts or commitment to her sport. You don’t know and shouldn’t speculate that she’s “saving face” or “ordinary.” Save your thoughts to yourself if you have nothing positive or constructive to say, please.

  7. avatar
    Leander

    I agree that Missy is a class act, but what happened to her just confirms what a foolish decision it is to drop out of college to become a professional swimmer. Dagny Knutson, Kate Ziegler and Katie Hoff all would have been much better off going to college instead of turning pro. Missy would have better off taking a red shirt year to focus on the Olympics, which a number of American swimmers from Mary T to Simone Manuel have done.

    I do hope that she becomes the first swimmer who actually finishes a degree after turning pro because I don’t believe that any of the others have. I hope that the next swimmer who faces the same choice decides to stay in school.

  8. avatar
    Samhain

    Word of advice to athletes, ALWAYS TAKE THE MONEY!!! She could have turned pro and gotten paid 15 million but now look at her. She wasted 2 years at Cal and then turned pro anyways except no money or sponsers now that she is a has been. You can always go back to college so get paid first kids.

    • avatar
      Ty Le

      In case you haven’t been watching NBC or TV in general, she’s doing alright with the endorsements. Maybe not $15M worth though. Don’t think it was about the money with Missy. She genuinely wanted to be a student-athlete and enjoys Cal — hence she’s coming back.

    • avatar
      Susanna Sontani-Telford

      Interesting idea, take the money first and one can always go back to college since the body can only reach the maximum performance at certain age. There is always exception, meaning not very many so with that in mind, I do agree with your point of view. But, Missy chose to juggle both while Ledecky and Phelps do not. Ledecky would be at Stanford for the next 4 years so 2020 Olympic she might reach Maya DiRado’s level and beyond at age 23.
      Since this is all new to Missy, I would like to see her finish her Cal, so lets say for the next 2 years, Bachelor of Science in Psychology (I think) and cut down endorsements’ pressures may be to one, may be and train for the following 2 years for 2020 Olympic.
      May be Todd Schmitz can get some tips from Bob Bowman how to train Missy so the result will not be looking at a crystal bowl of hit and miss, instead lets say WR or OR for Missy’s favorite event like 200 Back and 100 Back. So focus on ONE stroke and master it to the fastest possible speed like Ledecky for freestyle who has been doing it on her own and pin down her next timing goal she wanted on her bedroom wall back then.

      • avatar
        J Loucks

        She peaked in London and has steadily declined every year – just the facts. We tend to fail to appreciate the uniqueness and fleeting nature of peak athletic performance while we take for granted that folks like MP and others can sustain their high-level achievements over several Olympic cycles.

        It’s typically something fundamental like a changing body type or new priorities that are the root cause for a decline in performance. As well, a significant injury can be the tipping point. Everything else is just an excuse or spin. For Missy, it seems to be a combination of a body type moving past optimum coupled with lack of a sheer desire to win and crush competitors.

        She can tell the story to her sponsors and perhaps believe that Tokyo is her mark, but the trend is in place for an early exit from the sport. She’s been a great role model and mentor for USA Swimming and for that she deserves our respect.

      • avatar
        Susanna Sontani-Telford

        I hate to say peaked performance at age 20, I do believe college swimming and olympic swimming IS different as far as speed so Missy needs to get used to a much faster speed, meaning requiring a different training like what Todd Smitz used to do before Cal. Apparently 2 years after college training is not quite enough time for her body to adjust back to Olympic speed which is HUGE.
        Compared to Ledecky, Ledecky had trained for short distances from her usual 800 m since 2012 Olympic so 4 years, not just in the last 2 years, in addition to maintaining her 800 m training, Olympic speed.
        Look at Maya Dirado, excelling into Olympic speed that she became qualified for the Olympic in her senior year.
        Phelps trained in the last 2 years for the same thing he had been doing all his life, since coming out of retirement of 2012 Olympic. Although the result was slower, still slower a little bit, not 9 seconds from his OR/WR.
        So I believe the changes from slower speed during college training back to super fast speed for Olympic training is not enough in 2 years. The other way around works much better as shown in Missy’s 2nd year at Cal. She pushed a little more, she made it to the top. For Olympic speed though, she has to push a whole lot more and that takes time, more than 2 years due to sponsors’ commitment taking her away from pool.
        I have high hope for Missy that she would redeem herself with new philosophy, swimming for herself and nobody else, to prove herself, at age 24 she can be at the top again.
        I do worry with the first 2 years again, finishing Cal, and then jump back into Olympic training for the last 2 years for Tokyo. So just repeating what did not work.
        Bless her heart and hope she would read my comments.

Author: David Rieder

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David Rieder is a staff writer for Swimming World. He has contributed to the magazine and website since 2009, and he has covered the NCAA Championships, U.S. Nationals, Olympic Trials as well as the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and the 2017 World Championships in Budapest. He is a native of Charleston, S.C., and a 2016 graduate of Duke University.

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