Missy Franklin to Don the Blue and Gold Next Year at Berkeley

PHOENIX, Arizona, October 20. MISSY Franklin, the most sought-after high school swimming recruit this season thanks to an impressive Olympic debut, is trading the mountains of Colorado for the northern California beaches, heading to the University of California-Berkeley next fall.

Franklin's decision gives Cal head coach Teri McKeever yet another top recruiting class, and gives her an extremely deep stable of backstrokers to use in dual and championship meet action. When Franklin steps onto the Berkeley campus next fall, she'll join two-time NCAA champion Cindy Tran and current freshmen Elizabeth Pelton and Rachel Bootsma.

“I couldn't be more excited to be a part of the Golden Bear family,” Franklin said in an email sent to Swimming World. “I looked at such amazing schools and programs across the country and it was such a difficult decision, but in my heart I know that Berkeley is where I belong. It is such an honor to say I will soon be representing the University of California-Berkeley. Go Bears!”

An added twist to Franklin's commitment is that she will only swim collegiately for her freshman and sophomore years. Franklin's camp has confirmed to Swimming World that she will become a professional swimmer after she competes at the 2015 NCAAs, about 18 months before the start of the Rio Olympic Games. Franklin made this intention known to McKeever and the other coaches at the schools she considered during the recruiting process. Franklin told Denver NBC affiliate 9News that she plans to stay in Berkeley when she turns pro.

Franklin's accomplishments in the long course pool are widely known. With five medals in her Olympic debut, Franklin has become one of the most-decorated high school seniors in swimming history, a legacy that includes individual world records in the short course and long course 200 backstrokes and the 400 medley relay long course world record. But it is her short course yards achievements that will be looked at when analyzing her potential for the Golden Bears' hopes for a championship dynasty.

Franklin broke the national independent high school record in the 200 freestyle last February with a 1:43.15, just a few tenths off Dagny Knutson's overall record of 1:42.81. She also owns two other independent high school national records in the 100 free (48.39 as a relay leadoff) and 100 back (52.30). What is remarkable about these swims is that they were done in altitude — which will truly affect races 200 yards and longer — and not at full taper.

Not shockingly, Franklin is a six-star recruit in the Swimming World rankings, with all three of those times easily putting her in the A final at the NCAA championships. Add in a lifetime best of 1:51.07 in the 200 back from 2010 and a best time of 1:55.32 in the 200 IM, and McKeever has a wealth of options to use in individual events and relays.

Franklin's announcement today means she will not take her scheduled recruiting trip to the University of Southern California next weekend. In addition to UC-Berkeley, Franklin had also visited Texas and Georgia.