Missy Franklin was one of the most productive medal-winners for Team USA in the 2012 Olympic Games, and she'll only get better between now and 2016. She has a chance to become the female equivalent of Michael Phelps before her Olympic swimming career is finished.
Franklin has already won five Olympic medals at the age of 17—four of them being gold. Phelps didn't win any medals until he was 19, as a comparison.
Assuming Franklin competes in two more Olympics—the 2016 and 2020 Summer Games—she'll likely become the top female swimmer of all time.
With that in mind, we thought it would be fun to project her medal count for the 2016 Games and beyond.
2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Franklin's Achilles heel in the 2012 Games was that she couldn't quite compete with the world's top swimmers in the 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle events.
She finished both events just outside of a podium finish, but I'm betting on a better showing from her in both come 2016. By that time, Franklin will be a bit stronger, and she'll medal in both events.
She'll continue her dominant performances in the backstroke, winning gold in both the 100-meter and 200-meter events. She'll also earn gold medals for her contributions in the 4x100-meter medley relay and 4x200-meter freestyle relay.
The 4x100-meter freestyle will likely continue to be dominated by the Australians, but I predict a silver medal for Franklin and Team USA in 2016, one spot better than their bronze-medal performance in 2012.
Total medal count in 2016: Seven, with four golds, two silvers and one bronze.
2020 Summer Games
If Franklin has enough gas left in her tank and the will to continue training beyond the 2016 Games, she'll be just as dominant in 2020. Her body is perfect for swimming, just like Phelps' was. She has long arms and legs, and as she gets older, she'll get stronger and stronger until she stops training.
She'll compete in the same seven events that she did in 2016, and the results should be the same, except I predict she'll do even better in the freestyle events as a 25-year-old woman.
Total medal count in 2020: Seven, with five golds, one silver and one bronze.
How many medals will Franklin win before she retires?
By the time Franklin is finished with her Olympic career, by my count she'll have won 19 medals—with at least 13 of them being gold. She could win even more if she goes to four Olympic Games like Phelps did.
It really isn't out of the realm of possibility. Franklin will be 29-years old when the 2024 Summer Games are held, and if she loves competing and doesn't burn out as it relates to the insane amount of training it takes to compete at this high level, she could realistically compete in four Olympics.
Phelps is the undisputed king of the pool, and by the time Franklin is finished, she'll be the undisputed queen.