By Bob Schaller//Contributor | Thursday, August 10, 2017
In this bonus Part III 20 Question Extra, Missy Franklin talks about how she came to terms with her experience in Rio. The Cal student and native of Colorado also explains why she’s found that life is a series of transitions, so change is part of the menu at every stop. She notes how her toughest experiences should have the most impact on helping her with life’s future challenges in this 20 Question Extra.
1. We talked about you hoping to finish your psychology degree at Cal and graduate in the Spring, what will you do then?
Missy: It’s a degree that presents a lot of options, and that’s why I love it. A lot of the media and business landscape continues to evolve, and I want to find out where my passions are and work toward developing a career in that direction. Going to Berkeley is a study in the most fascinating aspects of human behavior. I love learning about it. So I think this degree from Cal gives me a good base to work off of.
2. You mention passions a lot -- swimming is still one too, right?
Missy: Absolutely. In fact, I want to find out the one thing in life that I am as passionate about as I am when it comes to swimming, and that is what I will do in the future with my life when I am done swimming and with school. I don’t believe there is a need to rush it -- I think it will present itself when I am at that point and it will be developed through hard work and finding my way.
3. Back to Worlds in Budapest, you have known Chase Kalisz forever and last summer he was a teammate in Rio, how happy were you to see him win both IMs in Hungary?
Missy: I don’t think anyone on the team trains harder -- Chase has the most incredible work ethic of anyone I have been around in my life. He’s amazing. For him to fight for this to be his time is so hard to do, and for him to really say, “This is it. This is my time now” -- I admire that so much. I am so proud that this is his time. He showed the rest of the world what we have been seeing from him for a long time.
4. Elizabeth Beisel was on this Worlds team -- how much did it mean to have her in Rio, along with Allison Schmitt, your teammate from 2012?
Missy: Schmitty and Beisel -- I am so grateful for both. They have made this journey so much more fun with their energy and optimism than it would’ve been without them. When they aren’t there, their personalities are noticeably missing -- something feels like it is not there.
5. They are so similar yet so very different, aren’t they?
Missy: The knowledge and leadership -- and the care with which they administer both -- is what makes me most grateful. I got to work with these two beautiful women for years and years, and hopefully for years to come. That keeps me excited.
6. They are consistent too -- those personalities and character are good in adversity, aren’t they?
Missy: Absolutely, look at Schmitty and what she’s done for those facing depression. And even this summer with Beisel making the team in a way that was hard (a competitor was disqualified for a rule that has since been done away with) and the class she showed. She was more worried about Ella (Eastin) than she was excited for herself because that’s what a leader does. The honesty and sincerity in how she handled it was a perfect example of Beisel and what she means to USA Swimming. More inspiring than their medals is who they are as people.
7. We talk regularly so I don’t worry about you because I know you, but to have everything not just in place for your 2012 Olympics, but also for your record-setting six golds at 2013 Worlds in Barcelona -- that would be a career in itself for anyone. Rio wasn’t a place where you did what you had hoped, but you left with gold -- isn’t your body of work solid as a rock?
Missy: Thank you. I don’t know...about my career in terms of that. I think a lot of the emotional aspects that came from my performance in Rio took away from a lot of that (the memories of other performances). That’s really how I felt. Honestly, it’s hard to remember the good things when you feel so disappointed.
8. But in time, perhaps?
Missy: The things you accomplished can’t ever be taken away from you, no matter what comes before or after. What I needed to re-learn -- and I don’t mean for this to sound like an ego thing because it is not -- is that I had to get to a point where I could be inspired by what I did, that I could motivate myself because that has to come from within. It’s time to realize that Rio doesn’t take away from anything I have done; it doesn’t dictate anything about my future.
9. So you found internal peace -- a huge part of life, isn’t it?
Missy: That’s a powerful realization I came to, that, as you know, goes so far beyond swimming. It’s up to you what you make of it, no matter what anyone else says or thinks. It’s ultimately up to me to deal with it, because I am the one who it affects. And I’d be missing out if I didn’t allow that experience to push me forward and make me better.
10. Switching gears, going from Colorado to northern California, how cool is that? I did the reverse, born there and grew up in Colorado. But don’t you love California?
Missy: I love it. Northern California actually reminds me a lot of Colorado in so many ways. There’s a lot to do. A lot of different things to do. I’m a “nature bug,” that’s something I really love, so I have enjoyed getting out here and experiencing new places. The place we (Ryan Murphy, Jacob Pebley and Josh Prenot) moved to, we’re not far from Tahoe, yet the beach is just a few hours away. We’re on the edge of a big regional park area here -- five minutes from my house we have lakes and trails. So I have been able to explore that without the intensity of the swim schedule I am used to.
11. The time hiking and being out in these parks -- good for your mind and as a workout?
Missy: Absolutely yes, both. I love being out in nature. It’s my favorite place to be. I go on runs, hikes, go to Lake Tahoe -- which is amazing.
12. Your transition to spokesperson, commercials, author, endorser, all seems so seamless, what’s the key?
Missy: Well, if it (laughs) looks like it has been seamless, I am glad it comes off that way -- thanks, that’s awesome! It has been a transition that involves a lot of time and commitment, and a lot of learning. I am finding new knowledge being dropped upon me every few weeks, and it’s great for my growth and expanding my understanding of the business world.
13. That’s a pretty cool thing and impressively logical progression forward, isn’t it?
Missy: Life is a series of transitions; no matter where you are in life, there is never a time you won’t be dealing with some sort of transition or change. You simply have to deal with them. There have been struggles, so I can assure you (laughs) it has not been as seamless as you kindly say it appears! I’ve had to make decisions I never imagined I’d be making. Scenarios pop up and you have to take all your resources and figure it out. That’s exciting, but it’s a nonstop challenge.
14. So living with Ryan Murphy, Josh and Jacob -- having talked for hours on end to each, I can’t imagine three better young men -- how’s that going?
Missy: I love it. It’s so fun living with people who know what you go through and have such a similar lifestyle and goals. It has made this something special. Our fridge has egg whites, kale and spinach. It’s hysterical because we eat the same food -- and eat healthy, and everyone goes to bed early. Without even having to say anything you can tell what someone is going through. At the pool or in practices, you don’t have time to stop at the walls and really get to know people, so I am super grateful to get to know such incredible human beings who are also such great guys, and very accepting of me.
15. I know you are a cooking machine -- what about the guys?
Missy: They are incredible cooks. I walked into the house (the other day) and Josh Prenot was cooking salmon. We have our own lives but we of course see each other a lot. I’m a big reader and a big movie watcher so I enjoy a little bit of everything, but we all (laughs) watch the Bachelorette and Game of Thrones together.
16. What about training with Natalie Coughlin and being around her the last few years -- what have you learned?
Missy: I don’t have the words to describe it all. Natalie is one of those unbelievably well-rounded people. She is so passionate about all the amazing things in in her life. She’s always developing into the best version of herself, which extends far beyond the pool. She wants to be the best cook, the best teammate. You don’t find that kind of internal motivation and honesty, and competitive spirit just anywhere. I love that she goes all-in on what she wants to do. That’s so inspiring.
17. So will you get some cooking tips from Natalie and share them?
Missy: I think Natalie’s tips are a little above my grade in terms of cooking expertise! I’ll have to go over to her kitchen to get some instruction.
18. How’s training with the new pool, and school at Cal?
Missy: It’s awesome and the new pool is amazing. Berkeley is a unique campus. They are always very aware and concerned about what is going on in the country and world. And at first it catches you off guard to see we have parking places for Nobel Prize winners! The fun part is learning about what these amazing people are doing and how it’s going. It creates an atmosphere where you always want to do your best.
19. Your friends at big rival Stanford, you must’ve been able to not see red, so to speak, when your buddies won NCAAs last year, right?
Missy: It couldn’t have happened to a better group of people. They are so talented and push each other so hard. They have rewritten the boundaries of college swimming and changed the landscape. Watching my Bears will always be my favorite part but to have that so close by is just incredible.
20. So what are your plans in terms of swimming?
Missy: Right now the long-term plan is I have enjoyed training with Dave so much if it continues to go well, I absolutely want to stay here after graduating, because I am so happy. So I see my future being in Berkeley.