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Rio 2016 Olympic Calympian: Missy Franklin, Women's swimming, USA

The darling of the 2012 London games may not be racing in as many events in Rio, but the former Cal women’s swimming star is still a good bet to add to her Olympic medals haul.

2016 Team USA Media Summit - Portraits
Calympian Missy Franklin may not have qualified for as many events in Rio as she would have liked, but she is still the favorite to medal at multiple events.
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Missy Franklin

Sport: Women’s Swimming

Country: U.S.A.

Twitter: @missyfranklin

Birthday: May 10th, 1995 (age 21)

Hometown: Centennial, Colorado (but born in Pasadena, California)

Cal affiliation: Former California Golden Bears swimmer who turned pro after two years, psychology major

Years at Cal: 2013 - 2015

Olympic appearances: 2012 London (Gold, 100 Back; Gold, 200 Back - World Record; Gold, 4x200 Free relay; Gold, 4x100 Medley relay - World Record; Bronze, 4x100 Free relay), 2016 Rio

Cal Achievements:

Missy Franklin competed on the Cal Women’s Swimming team for two years, 2014 and 2015, before turning pro. In those two years, she compiled the following accolades (from her profile):

The 2015 NCAA Swimmer of the Year, Pac-12 Swimmer of the Year and Honda Award-winner at the top female swimmer in the country

Completed her sophomore year ranked among Cal’s all-time top 10 in seven events – 50 free (9th, 22.10), 100 free (1st, 46.66), 200 free (1st, 1:39.10), 500 free (2nd, 4:32.66), 1000 free (6th, 9:47.44), 100 back (7th, 51.59), 200 back (2nd, 1:47.91) and 200 IM (2nd, 1:52.11)

Won three individual titles and was on two winning relays at the 2015 NCAA meet.

Broke her own American record en route to victory in the 200 free at NCAA's, touching in 1:39.10; also captured the 200 IM (1:52.11) and 200 back (1:47.91)

Member of Cal's winning 200 free and 800 free relays at the 2015 NCAA meet; also part of third-place 400 medley relay and second-place 400 free relay

Set a Cal 100 free record leading off the 400 free relay with a time of 46.66

Won three individual events at the 2015 Pac-12 meet - 200 IM (1:53.47), 200 free (1:41.09) and 200 back (1:49.94)

Swam a 1:40.68 split anchoring the 800 free relay that set an American record of 6:50.18 on its way to the Pac-12 title; also on victorious 200 free relay and runner-up 400 free relay and 400 medley relay

Captured the 2014 NCAA title in the 200-yard freestyle with an American-record time of 1:40.31 (since broken)

Anchored the 800 free relay to an NCAA championship with a final split of 1:40.08, bringing the Bears back from a 2.5-second deficit; also a member of the 200 free relay (2nd), 400 medley relay (5th) and 400 free relay (3rd).

Finished second in the 500-yard free at NCAA’s in a school-record 4:32.66 (since broken) and was third in the 100 free (47.26)

Named the 2014 Pac-12 Swimmer of the Meet after winning the 100-yard free (47.17), 200 free (1:42.29) and 500 free (4:35.73) - all in meet-record times; also a member of three victorious relays - 400 medley relay, 400 free relay and 800 free relay - and the runner-up 200 medley relay.

A two-time Pac-12 Swimmer of the Month and National Swimmer of the Week

The Pac-12 Freshman of the Year

A CSCAA Scholar All-American and named second team Pac-12 All-Academic in 2015

A two-time team MVP

That’s 4 NCAA individual national championships, 3 NCAA relay national championships, and most importantly to her, the 1 NCAA team national championships in 2015 for Missy in just two years, not to mention the American records. To mere mortals, these would be great achievements, yet there some people (not Missy herself) that are disappointed that Franklin did not dominate college swimming even more. Missy had to battle a back injuries that held her back in the NCAA and the national and world competitions in those two years.

Missy capped her Cal competitive swimming career (she has said that she will be back in Berkeley after the Rio games to complete her degree) with the Honda Award. She also won the ESPY for the Best Female Collegiate Athlete of the Year after leading the Bears to the team NCAA National Championship.

The Cal experience, to compete with a team and be a “normal” student, costed Missy Franklin millions of dollars from endorsements. Even though she was able to cash in after turning pro, Missy could have made more money and earned financial security sooner by turning pro immediately after the London 2012 games. As an amateur, she was not even allow to get the bonus money from setting world records. Nevertheless, Missy has repeated said that she love her Cal experience and will forever bleed blue and gold. Even though she chose to train back in Colorado for this Olympic, it would not be shocking for Missy to switch to the Cal post-grad group when she returns to Berkeley to complete her degree in psychology.

International Achievements:

Of course, Missy Franklin made herself an international household name (or face) in the 2012 London Olympic games. The 17 year old Missy was the darling of that Olympic. She won 5 medals - 4 Golds and a Bronze, while setting two World Records.

You can relive Missy’s 100 Back win, record breaking 200 Back win, and the record breaking 4x100 medley win by clicking on the links in this sentence.

In addition to winning medals and setting records, Missy Franklin has also compiled an impressive list of awards won. Again from her profile:

2014: Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year; Golden Goggles Relay of the Year (4x200m FR)

2013: Women's Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the Year, Teen Choice Award for Best Female Athlete, ESPY for Best Female Olympic Athlete, Finalist for Gnarliest Newcomer (Cartoon Network)

2012: USA Swimmer of the Year, FINA World Swimmer of the Year, AAU Sullivan Award, Swimming World U.S. World and High School Swimmer of the Year, Golden Goggles Female Swimmer of the Year and Female Relay of the Year, Glamour Awards Woman of the Year, Colorado Sportswoman of the Year

2011: Golden Goggles Female Swimmer of the Year, Female Race of the Year and Female Relay of the Year, Colorado Sportswoman of the Year

Missy followed the 2012 London games with an even more impressive 2013 World Championships from Barcelona. She won 6 Gold medals (100 Back, 200 Back, 200 Free, 4x100 free relay, 4x200 free relay, and 4x100 medley relay).

By that standard, people were disappointed that Missy did not fare nearly as well at the 2015 World Championships from Kazan, after she had to overcome some injury issues. Missy won a Silver in 200 Back and a Bronze in 200 Free. She also won a Bronze in 4x100 free relay but Golds in the mixed 4x100 medley and the 4x200 free relays.

More on Missy and her Rio outlook:

The bubbly Missy Franklin will be bringing her trademark smile to Rio. Now that she is a pro, expect to see plenty of Missy Franklin in commercials for products in addition to the usual NBC promotional stuff.

A recurring storyline about Missy in Rio may be “what is wrong with Missy Franklin?”. Stanford commit Katie Ledecky has unfortunately overtaken Missy as the most dominant woman swimmer in the World right now.

In a somewhat disappointing U.S. Olympic Trials, Missy could not defend her 100 Back title. That rules her out of both the 100 Back and the 4x100 Medley relay events in Rio. Instead of a chance to win 5 medals again, Missy will have an easier schedule this time by competing in only 200 Back, 200 Free, and the 4x200 Free relay. Instead of winning the races at the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials, Missy also only placed 2nd. Nevertheless, Missy Franklin is a very strong contender to win multiple Olympic medals yet again.

People expected Missy Franklin to be the female Michael Phelps, but things are never that easy. Compare to Natalie Coughlin, one of Missy’s idol, who followed up her 5 Athens medals with 6 from Beijing, Missy Franklin will have a lot of catching up to do in 2020 Tokyo to potentially surpass Natalie Coughlin’s record (most Olympic medals by a female swimmer, shared with Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres) of 12 Olympic medals.

With her personality being one that wants to please everyone, many has already pointed to how her promotion obligations may be distracting Missy from her training. Missy, herself, would not use any excuses though.

Since her last Olympic occurred before she chose a college (obviously she made a wise decision to come to Cal), Rio 2016 is the first time that Cal fans can cheer on Missy Franklin as a Calympian. Regardless of her results, expect to see that Missy Franklin smile in Rio. Cal and Missy fans would love to see that smile from the top of podiums though.

Good luck to Missy in Rio and GO BEARS!