London 2012: Missy Franklin Will Use Summer Games to Propel Legendary Career

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistJuly 13, 2012

OMAHA, NE - JULY 01:  Missy Franklin competes in the championship final of the Women's 200 m Backstroke during Day Seven of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team Trials at CenturyLink Center on July 1, 2012 in Omaha, Nebraska.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Missy Franklin qualified for seven different events in this year's Summer Olympics. She will take part in four individual contests and three team-based relays in London.

That's not even the kicker. Franklin is just 17 years old. She's the newest athletic prodigy, whether you pay attention to swimming or not. 

Franklin's rise to dominance on the American circuit just has that feel to it. She enjoyed unbridled success at the U.S. Olympic Trials, and she enters London's games on a full head of steam. 

Franklin's astounding story doesn't just factor in her age. It's her age plus her plethora of talent. She just broke Natalie Coughlin's 100-meter backstroke record in Omaha, and there's no higher standard in women's American swimming than the 11-time Olympic medalist. 

She hasn't necessarily come out of nowhere. She's had some success at the World Aquatics Championships, but the Olympics are a different animal. The entire world's gaze rests on you in London. Can anyone even tell me when the World Aquatics Championships are? It's nothing against the event, but I bet not.

Given her performance so far, it's hard to believe that Franklin will go "belly up" in the face of competition. She's already beaten the titans of women's American swimming, and that's an accomplishment unto itself. 

I don't expect Franklin to make a Michael Phelps-like rise at this year's Olympic games, but I expect the arc of her career to be very obvious. When the festivities are over, no one will have any doubt who the next great swimmer is.

Franklin only has complete influence over four of her seven events. She can't make her relay teammates swim faster, but she can hold up her leg of the race. 

In her individual events, I expect Franklin to perform very well in both the 100-meter and 200-meter back. Those are her best events, and she looked excellent doing both at the trials. 

Every once in awhile a transcendent Olympic athlete comes along, and Franklin has all the early indications. I'm going to have some faith in what I see and say she's showing her true colors. 

Expect Franklin to ride her momentum from this year's Olympic run into a decorated international swimming career.