Missy Franklin: Why Olympic Success Is Saving Women's Swimming

Evan Budrovich@@evanbudCorrespondent IAugust 1, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30:  Missy Franklin of the United States celebrates with her gold medal and an American flag during the medal ceremony for the Women's 100m Backstroke on Day 3 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 30, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

At just 17, Missy Franklin is already the breakout American athlete at the London Games.

At the Olympic Trials, Franklin finished first and set a new U.S. record in the 100-meter back, making "Missile Missy" a legitimate candidate to bring home Olympic gold.   

The girl with the infectious smile has already exceeded expectations in her first Olympic Games. Already possessing a bronze and a gold, Franklin has three remaining events:  200-meter backstroke, 100-meter freestyle and 4x100-meter medley relay.

On Monday, Franklin barely had enough time to stay warm between races as she competed in two events within 15 minutes of the other. The night ended tremendously with Franklin's first Olympic gold in the 100-meter backstroke.

The trophies should only rack up this year for Franklin, who most certainly will be the most talked-about swimmer, like Michael Phelps in 2008.

Franklin's success in London will allow her to take the preemptive torch from Phelps as the new commercialized face of swimming.

At 6'1" with a 6'4" wingspan, Franklin has the frame to represent the U.S. well in future Olympic Games. Her photogenic face and outgoing personality will only help, as she will undoubtedly face a media frenzy when she returns from London.

Even global sensation Justin Bieber has been following swimming's newest star. Franklin's biggest pop fan has followed her on Twitter and congratulated the star on taking home gold for Team USA.

Not only is Franklin popular with singing icons, she has the charisma and charm to become Team USA's next big swimming sensation. Fans have been excited about her approach to the sport and the constant energy and passion she fires into every swim, whether it's a qualifier or an Olympic final.

While the Michael Phelpses and Ryan Lochtes of the world are great for swimming, having a new face in women's swimming will only add attention and popularity to one of the most riveting and athletically challenging Olympic sports.

Combine the 17-year-old with rising star Allison Schmitt, and Team USA has quite the women's swimming duo for years to come. Expect to see Franklin on the podium for at least the next eight years, giving her a chance to challenge Phelps's all-time medals record. 

With men's swimming taking the forefront in the past two Olympics, it will be nice to see a changing of the guard towards women as the 2016 Rio Games roll around the corner.

Missy Franklin still has her work cut out for her in London, but regardless of her finish, she has returned popularity and excitement to women's swimming for the foreseeable future.