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Golden Nuggets: Missy Franklin is an Olympic gold medalist, but still just a college freshman

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Swimming superstar Missy Franklin discusses balancing aquatics and academics at Cal and her future.

Ryan Pierse

Missy Franklin may be a multiple-gold medalist, but she's still a college freshman, trying to survive the same struggles and adaptations that all freshmen must.

The Olympic swim star recently mentioned to classmates how nervous she felt about an upcoming midterm exam.

A student who had never talked to the swimmer turned and said, "You're Missy Franklin. How are you nervous for a midterm?"

...

The academic challenges have proved bigger hurdles than the pool.

"I knew it would be hard, but it has been very, very hard," Franklin said.

She figured she had learned the art of balance between swimming and school after flourishing at Regis Jesuit High in Aurora, Colo.

But Franklin said it has been a steep learning curve to feel satisfied when getting B's. The swimmer said she once celebrated earning a C on a midterm last semester.

But don't call for a tutor just yet. Franklin had an impressive 3.5 grade-point average in her first semester.

While Franklin is not the sole star on a loaded Cal squad, she certainly brings a great deal of attentiondue to her name recognitionbut also helps her teammates improve.

"Missy has a way of making people around her better and shine the light on them," Cal coach Teri McKeever said. "She doesn't need the light to shine on her."

But as much as she might try, Franklin cannot escape the spotlight.

The one thing Franklin can't escape is the passage of time (so deep!) as her college career seems to be sprinting towards its end (insert cheesy comparison to her aquatic speed).

The Olympian plans to swim for Cal next season, then turn professional a year before the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. She plans to earn a degree in psychology and minor in education at Cal while training outside the college program with some of America's best swimmers such as Natalie Coughlin and Nathan Adrian.

Franklin has tried to soak up every moment as a member of the Cal team. She filled a binder with mementos from the Pac-12 meet. She has another binder ready for her first NCAA championships.

"I don't have four years," Franklin said. "I need to make the most of it in two years."

You're more than welcome to stay for the full four years! She knows that, right?

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