DENVER (CBS4) – It’s still about 18 months away from the London 2012 Olympic Games. But remember the name — Missy Franklin. She’s not the typical Regis High School sophomore.
Missy is 6-foot-1, she owns a 3.9 grade point average, she’s only 15 years old, and she happens to be one of the fastest swimmers in the world.
Missy could swim before she could walk.
“I just remember that when I was little I loved the water,” Missy said.
“When she was 6 months old I took her to a mother/daughter class and we were in the water and we were putting her underneath the water and bringing her up; and the other kids come up screaming; and Missy under the water would be smiling with her eyes open looking at me,” Franklin’s mother D.A. Franklin said. “I thought, ‘Oh boy, we’ve got to get her to swim.”
And swim she did. Missy was 7 years old when she entered her first race.
“My first race was a 25 freestyle and my mom right before hand was telling me to go fast and fly. I didn’t really register she meant fly, as in go fast,” Missy said. “So I ended up doing my first race, the 25 freestyle, I did it butterfly.”
She won the race and she’s been winning ever since — local meets, national meets, and even international meets.
“Vancouver, Stockholm, Germany, Manchester, Barcelona and Dubai,” she said. “And then Shanghai this summer.”
Missy was only 13 years old when she swam in the U.S. Olympic trials. She didn’t make the team that year, but she was only 13. A couple months ago at the ripe old age of 15, Missy set a new American record at the 200 backstroke — right on pace for the Summer Olympics of 2012.
“The people who know swimming watch Missy and go, ‘You know, she’s going to make the team,’” Missy’s father Dick Franklin said.
“Just making the team would be just amazing for me and I would be disappointed if I didn’t make it, but I wouldn’t let it phase me,” Missy said. “I would just know that I lost to some of the best swimmers in the world. But right now we’re crossing our fingers. I think it would be incredible.”
What Missy did at the high school championships also qualifies as incredible. Not only did she lead Regis to the state title, but she went faster in the 100 backstroke than any American high school swimmer has gone before.
Some wonder why a world-class swimmer would even bother with high school competition.
“I really like being able to watch and finish and see how happy they are when they see their times … sometimes other swimmers say that I help push them in the heat and they got a really good time because they were trying to keep up with me and that just makes me feel so good,” Missy said.
Some wonder why the Franklins are still in Colorado — not exactly as swimming hotbed.
“Actually we had a lot of pressure. We had people saying, ‘Why are you still here? You should be in Texas, you should be in Florida, you should be in California, the coaches are older, they’ve had Olympians,’” Dick said.
Missy said she’s been with her current coach, Todd Schmidt, since she was 7 years old and it’s worked for her.
“I enjoy coming to practice, I have so much fun, my teammates are my best friends and my coach is one of my best friends,” Missy said.
Schmidt operates the Colorado Stars — the top swimming club team in the state.
“Todd is wonderful, Missy trusts him,” D.A. said. “She really thinks that Todd is going to take her to trials, that Todd is the one that can get her on the team. And we have to go with that.”
Missy wouldn’t be the first Colorado girl to swim in the Olympics. Amy Van Dyken won the first of her six gold medals in the 1996 Olympics. Missy was only 3 months old then.
Van Dyken was the Colorado Sportswoman of the Year three times. She may have some competition from Missy. She’s up for the award this year and she’s already a sportswoman Hall of Famer. The induction banquet is March 13 at the Marriott Tech Center.