By Bob Schaller//Contributor | Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Missy Franklin was so excited watching Worlds. She headed to Budapest, Hungary for the last few days of the meet where she had a photoshoot with several U.S. World team members this week. She’s excited by what the U.S. showed in Budapest, and she’s excited about her own path forward, as she explains in Part 1 of a two-part 20 Question Tuesday.
1. First things first, how are you?
Missy: I am feeling so, so good. Emotionally wise, I feel awesome. This whole time, and just being an observer of Worlds, has given me so much perspective.
2. This was an easy U.S. Worlds team to cheer for, wasn’t it?
Missy: They have helped re-ignite my energy and love -- watching people you love do what they love, and seeing how well the team did. Missing out, I was able to take a step back, and see where each one of them needed to be. And it is so impressive. All of their performances and stories have been so heartwarming.
3. You moved back to Cal but do you get back to Colorado?
Missy: We had a reunion in the mountain house (in Colorado) for two weeks. It was great. We also went on a week-long Mediterranean cruise, and that was awesome.
4. So seeing the world even though you didn’t go to Worlds, so to speak?
Missy: I knew it was going to be really hard for me not to be there -- when I knew earlier this year that this year’s Worlds was probably not going to be in my future -- so I thought maybe doing something fun would be great, and going on a cruise with my Mom was perfect. We visited Italy, France and Spain.
5. So did your kitten go to Cal with you when you moved back from Colorado and how is she?
Missy: She is so good. She’s with my Mom and Dad. I can’t have her at the new house because my roommate is allergic to cats. Murph is allergic to cats and dogs.
6. Ryan Murphy is a roommate?
Missy: Oh yeah, you didn’t know that (laughs), where have you been! I’ve been living with Josh (Prenot), Ryan and Jacob (Pebley) and they are awesome. It is so much fun. We all moved in, in the beginning of June. It has been so much fun. The place we have is amazing.
7. Seeing Katie Ledecky win five golds and break records, what is that like?
Missy: It’s so wonderful. No matter whether it’s my record or someone else’s, I am a firm believer that records were made to be broken. We do what we do to motivate and inspire each other. Katie’s going to smash more and more records -- a lot of times she breaks a record and it doesn’t get the attention it deserves because it’s her (laughs) own record! That’s how amazing she is.
8. So when she breaks your records, you are celebrating too?
Missy: Absolutely! It is so special. This is someone who I know and care about, and know so much about. She’s doing it for the United States, which makes it even more special. I should point out I was proud of Kylie Masse’s swim in the 100 backstroke -- that was one of the most amazing things I have seen in my life. It’s hard to put into words what breaking these records mean to me. And in the case of Katie Ledecky in particular, it’s so impressive because she’s setting the bar so high.
9. I see you’ve been working out a lot and doing healthy things outside -- not swimming as much, but staying in great shape, right?
Missy: I think it’s definitely a choice I’ve made. Having your arms taken away by double surgery -- in terms of it not allowing you to swim for a while -- I had to view it as an opportunity to try some new, different things, or some things I haven’t been able to do for a while because I’ve been swimming four hours every day!
10. And you seem to be enjoying it -- is that correct?
Missy: I miss swimming, but yes, absolutely, I am enjoying it immensely. In so many ways, this has been the best time of my life in the aftermath of Rio because it made me healthier. And of course it’s ironic that the most unhealthy I felt last summer led to this -- I never expected it to turn around this way. It’s just incredible.
11. Speaking of something incredible, your Rio teammate and Stanford rival Simone Manuel was great again at Worlds, how impressive was she in your eyes?
Missy: I love that. She’s been amazing. Simone has this air about her. This confidence, and it’s so utterly unique -- it’s so Simone. I respect how she commands respect wherever she is by how she carries herself and how she delivers. She always has the right attitude. She respects the people around her. That’s what makes her so incredible, and that’s why she is so fierce in the pool.
12. What was it like in Rio seeing her history making swim up close as her teammate?
Missy: Oh my gosh, it was absolutely incredible. And not just her winning, but that moment when hugged (Stanford head coach and Olympic assistant coach) Greg (Meehan), Maya (DiRado) and Lia (Neal) for the first time after the race. That’s the moment that got me going. Everyone was crying. And you could see the magnitude of the moment hit her like it should up on that podium, because she’s so wise to know what she accomplished and what it would mean to so many people. But for me, the moment was the embrace because it was such a powerful and moving moment. The group in that hug knew what went into it that was beyond the moment, and knew what it would mean. Those are the moments that make it all worth it for me.
13. Speaking of Maya DiRado, how about her at the Olympics, were you surprised?
Missy: I don’t know if anyone was more surprised than Maya! Her race was one of my favorite ever. Maya deserved it as much as anyone. I actually saw her last weekend at the Trans Tahoe relay -- both Stanford and Cal had teams, and it was so great to see her again.
14. Another of your Olympic teammates and from your new Cal training group, Nathan Adrian, was great again in Budapest -- how do you explain his success?
Missy: There are not enough ways to say how he inspires me and motivates me. His optimism, consistency, dedication, determination, there is so much to admire about him. Having him be part of my life and be a role model has shown me what a leader does. He is so welcoming and willing to help people.
15. And probably a perfect part, along with Matt Grevers, of the leadership group for this World’s team, which without several usual stars, seemed just fine?
Missy: What was unbelievable to me was when Nathan lifted Caeleb’s hand into the air after Caeleb won gold in the 100. In one action, that summed up Nathan for me. That’s one of Nathan’s events-- he won gold in the 100, and yet he recognizes this sport is about team and pushing each other. Nathan was pushing Caeleb and Caeleb’s talent and enthusiasm pushed Nathan in Budapest. They make each other better. Nathan is so mature that he’s always willing to put the team ahead of his own ambition, and it’s why everyone on the U.S. team always looks up to him so much.
16. How about your Cal teammate Kathleen Baker at Worlds?
Missy: Kathleen Baker has been absolutely amazing. I was so excited to see each one of her races, and the relays. Here’s a funny story: I was giving lessons the other day, working on a backstroke with a girl, and giving her some tips. I said tell me what you are looking for so I can help. She said, “I really just want to have a Kathleen Baker backstroke.” That was awesome! So we watched some videos of Kathleen. Kathleen is already inspiring so many people. Her 100 was phenomenal. She has nowhere to go but up. She’s so consistent and that’s the hard part. I hope to get back to a place where I can keep up and race with her -- and Olivia Smoliga, who has also been so good and so consistent.
17. What did you think about Lilly King?
Missy: Absolutely so impressed. When is anyone not impressed with Lilly? What I love about her most -- besides her records! -- is her authenticity. She’s Lilly. She will always be Lilly. She was so open and honest about what happened after the Olympics, how she felt and how she dealt with it, and then she turns around and wins (the 100 and 50, plus two relay golds) at Worlds.
18. Ryan Murphy was all gold in Rio, how hard is it to follow up in Budapest as defending champ, and didn’t his swims look good to you at Worlds?
Missy: First of all I am not worried about Murph. You never worry about a guy like that. I thought his races went well. He’s a competitor so you know he wants to win every time he hits the water. But it’s also a reminder that we’re always fighting when we’re on top, or to get to the top, or to be back on top. It’s consistently a battle and struggle. You take pride in your races and whether you win or get silver or bronze, or don’t place, you find ways to get better.
19. Are you swimming a lot?
Missy: I have not spent a whole lot of time in the water. I have gotten in a few times a week to keep the feeling and rhythm. I don’t swim enough or long enough to feel a big difference (in terms of before and after the surgery). It’s weird to figure out whether I feel the shoulder or if I feel weak and tired -- identifying what kind of pain it is. The better shape I get in and more in tune I am with my body, I should get a better handle on it. But just thinking I’ll get both my shoulders fixed and boom, it’s going to be great again -- it didn’t happen like that.
20. Even the surgery kind of came out of the blue, or is that correct?
Missy: We got to a point where we had been doing tons of PT (physical therapy) on it and it wasn’t getting better. I had the MRI (on her left shoulder), got the results, and got the surgery done. Then they looked at the other shoulder (the right shoulder) when I said there were some issues, and it was worse. So I had that surgery. Having that double whammy wasn’t anticipated, so it was kind of hard, especially right after having surgery on my left shoulder. But I made it through it. And I do feel healthier physically than I have ever been in a long time. That is the starting point. The work to get back only begins from this point.
Next week in Part II, Missy dives back into more thoughts on the amazing U.S. team’s performance at Worlds, including Katie Meili, Chase Kalisz and Elizabeth Beisel, as well as Missy’s experiences in Rio and how it shaped her moving forward.