At the 2013 Swimming World Championships, Team USA reigned supreme as it took home the women's 4x100-meter freestyle relay race. Leading the charge was none other than Olympic phenom Missy Franklin.
With this gold-medal win, Franklin has proven that the summer of 2012 was no fluke and that she truly is elite.
Franklin first burst onto the scene at the 2012 London Olympics, winning four gold medals and one bronze. This was just one year removed from the 2011 Swimming World Championships, when Franklin won three gold medals, one silver and a bronze in Shanghai, China.
Did we mention that she's achieved all of this at the age of 18?
Michael Phelps may be retired, but his impact on the sport of swimming is unquestioned. Interest is at an all-time high, and the rise of swimmers such as Franklin and the ever-entertaining Ryan Lochte have given us new reason to follow along.
Franklin's gold medal as a member of the women's relay team proves that our hopes aren't being led by false pretense.
Not a Fluke
Regardless of what follows in her career, any time an athlete wins an Olympic gold medal, she's become legendary. Thousands prepare for that stage every year, and in the end, only a select few are granted the opportunity to shine.
In Franklin's case, she was a 17-year-old phenom that won four Olympic gold medals—the lingering question clearly wasn't about her ability.
This is far from a question of character, but a teenager placed under the bright lights of international superstardom is subject to letting fame get to her head. With as many athletes in their prime years facing that same struggle, it was only rational to question Franklin's ability to sustain her success.
While this may not be an individual gold medal, the 4x100-meter relay race was the first we'd seen of Franklin in a major global event since the Olympics. With the pressure on, Franklin responded with resiliency and poise.
Franklin continues to prove she is beyond capable of representing the new era of American swimmers.
Franklin's win in the 4x100-meter relay was the first of eight races that she's set to take part in during the 2013 Swimming World Championships in Barcelona. The two events that all eyes will be set on, however, are not team events.
They're the two races Franklin participated in and failed to medal in at the 2012 London Olympics.
Franklin dominated the backstroke races at the Olympics but failed to secure a medal in the 100- and 200-meter freestyle races. She will swim those lengths in Barcelona, thus giving herself the opportunity to right past wrongs.
As we all know, improving upon your flaws is the only way to approach perfection.
If Franklin is able to medal, and specifically win gold, in those two events, we'll know how powerful her work ethic truly is. If she comes up short, however, there will inevitably be questions about whether or not she's a race specialist or an all-around force.
Regardless of what transpires, though, Franklin's gold medal in the 4x100-meter relay proves one thing: One way or another, she's become one of the world's elite.