U.S. swimmer Missy Franklin reacts during a news conference at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, July 26, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Missy Franklin is ready to answer London’s call.
The 17-year-old Colorado Stars swimming phenom and senior-to-be at Aurora’s Regis Jesuit High School is set to take England by storm when the Olympics open July 27.
Widely expected to be the breakout star for the U.S. team, Franklin will at minimum do something no American woman has ever done: swim in seven events at an Olympics.
In classic Franklin fashion, she’s keeping it completely in perspective.
“It’s definitely hard coming to my first Olympics and swim that many events, but Michael (Phelps) is swimming seven, too, so he’ll be able to help me out,” Franklin said on an interview on NBC’s “Today Show” July 25.
“We’ve had constant team meetings where the veterans tell us what to expect. The best piece of advice I’ve gotten is to take in every moment and enjoy it.”
To get to the good stuff, Franklin’s gotten through the hard part in recent weeks, competing in the U.S. Team Trials in Omaha, Neb., then taking part in the USA training camps at the University of Tennessee and in Vichy, France along with coach Todd Schmitz. She’s been through workouts with prominent local trainer Loren Landow and survived the rookie skits that first-time Olympians have to put on for the vets.
She’s been handling it all without a direct connection with her biggest support system — mother DA and father Richard —who have been taking care of business at home in the meantime.
DA Franklin has been taking care of things like finding care for their 110-pound Alaskan Malamute, Ruger, and other things before she and her husband depart for London. They arrive July 26. DA Franklin has had to track her daughter’s experience from home via Skype and has been trying to help her maintain her normal level of calm.
“The hype has been unbelievable and she is so young,” DA Franklin said. “We weren’t event sure how Trials were going to go and everybody was asking how many medals she was going to get. We were just hoping she’d make the team. Missy doesn’t read anything or watch anything on TV, but she’s also not ignorant of the hype and what is going on.
“She’s trying not to focus on it too much and concentrating on getting ready to do her best.”
Franklin will have plenty of time in the water at the Olympics, with potentially at least one race on eight straight days. She’ll miss the Opening Ceremonies on July 27 as her first race is in the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay the next morning.
Assuming she advances in each of her races, Franklin’s schedule is jam-packed: 100 meter backstroke heat and semifinal (July 29), 200 freestyle heat and semifinal and 100 backstroke final (July 30), 200 freestyle final (July 31), 100 freestyle heat and semifinal, 4×200 freestyle relay heat (Aug. 1), 200 backstroke heat and semifinal, 100 freestyle final (Aug. 2), 4×100 medley relay heat, 200 backstroke final (Aug. 3) and 4×100 medley relay final (Aug. 4).
The Associated Press projects Franklin to win both the 100 and 200 meter backstroke events and she has the potential to medal in every one of her events.
In the 200 backstroke, her time of 2 minutes, 6.12 seconds is the best in the world in 2012, but she’s gone more than a second faster.
When all is finished, Franklin wants to hang around London for the Closing Ceremony, but she’ll need her parents to do that. DA Franklin said that minors aren’t allowed to leave the Olympic Village without being signed out by parents, so Missy won’t be able to leave until Aug. 5.
“It’s so funny, it’s the dichotomy we find ourselves in all the time; Missy is now an Olympian, but she still has the restrictions of a minor,” DA Franklin said.
The family returns to Colorado on Aug. 13 and then life returns somewhat to normal, as Franklin registers for her senior year at Regis Jesuit the next day.