Franklin returns to her roots to prepare for Rio

Thu Oct 8, 2015 5:42am EDT
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By Julian Linden

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Like any University student taking a year off from study, Missy Franklin wanted to see the world, broadening her horizons in new and exotic locations.

She's managed to do that, but not quite the same way as most other students on sabbatical. There's no trekking with backpacks or sleeping in youth hostels for this American.

As one of the world's best swimmers, everything Franklin is doing right now is part of an intricate plan to prepare herself for next year's Rio Olympics.

That's the sole reason she decided to take a break from her studies at Berkeley College in California and return to her roots in Colorado.

And that's also why she's spent parts of the last few months traveling to eastern Europe and Asia, not to fill her passport with stamps, but to toughen herself up for Rio.

Just 17 at the time, Franklin was one of the stars of the 2012 London Olympics, winning four gold medals and millions of hearts with her innocent enthusiasm.

Riding the crest of wave, she won six gold medals at the 2013 world championships in Barcelona, then waved goodbye to her home and swim squad in Colorado to take up a scholarship at Berkeley.

Determined to experience college life to the fullest, Franklin even gave up the chance to turn professional so she could compete for Berkeley and train under Teri McKeever, one of America's top coaches.   Continued...

Missy Franklin of the U.S. poses with her silver medal after the women's 200m backstroke final at the Aquatics World Championships in Kazan, Russia, August 8, 2015.   REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth