Olympic Star Missy Franklin Makes Waves with Fellow High School Swimmers

Gabe Zaldivar@gabezalPop Culture Lead WriterJanuary 16, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03:  Missy Franklin of the United States poses on the podium with the gold medal after winning the Women's 200m Backstroke Final on Day 7 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on August 3, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

It's pretty hard not to get drowned out by the amazing athleticism and bright lights of fame that seem to follow Olympic star Missy Franklin. Just ask the high school athletes who have to compete against her. 

The Wall Street Journal's Stu Woo reported on the serene setting of high school swimming meets that are anything but. And it's all thanks to one of the biggest stars in the world, and owner of 4 gold medals and 1 bronze from the London Olympics: Missy Franklin. 

It seems among those who are ecstatic to line up against Franklin, there are peppered in some who are absolutely annoyed they have to continue to lose to a world champion. 

The 17-year old phenom continues to swim for Regis Jesuit High School, even after an Olympic showing any swimmer would dream of having. 

As you can imagine, she is quite successful against others her age—quite nearly unbeatable for that matter—as you can see from the video below taken before she even left for London. 

"It's sort of defeating," said Tiffany Bae, mother of Alex Bae, a Cherry Creek swimmer who may race Franklin in a freestyle race Tuesday. "She won so many gold medals. I don't know what you're there to prove."

That's pretty much the sentiment of the small amount of detractors who take umbrage with a world-class athlete sharing the local pool. 

"It's really frustrating when Missy kind of shines above everything," said Bonnie Brandon, who before graduating last spring was Colorado's greatest-ever female high-school swimmer next to Franklin. "She's No. 1 in the world, and No. 1 in the state, and then I'm No. 2 in the state.…It's just hard being in close proximity," said Brandon, now a University of Arizona swimming star.

The report goes on to say Cherry Creek High School is the one feeling the affects of Missy Franklin far more than most, and it may be because they have been the most successful before her dominant showing. 

For example, their loss Tuesday was just the 19th for the school out of 400 meets, a span of over 38 years. When futility suddenly hits the dominant, there is bound to be swift shove of stubbornness. 

Before you jump on the bashing bus, consider Franklin's motives for staying an amateur and fall in love with America's sweetheart all over again. 

Per the report, Franklin could have easily leaped at the millions thrown in front of her in the form of endorsement deals, but she wanted to hold onto her childhood for as long as that might last. 

Being back with her fellow teammates was far more enriching than the monetary compensation that will surely be there in a few years. 

She also wanted to make sure she could swim for her future California Golden Bears, and steal some time in the pool as a Pac-12 athlete. 

None of this was to dominate swimmers and laugh as she laps them, because that isn't her style. One of the better anecdotes from the report follows. 

As Franklin made her way to the pool for her first race—the 200-yard individual medley—the 6-foot-1 Olympian towered over her teammates and competitors. Before getting on the starting block, Franklin turned to Paige West, a Highlands Ranch junior, and said, "Good luck!"

Franklin's love for the sport and her smile continues to be infectious. I understand many would be frustrated to swim in her wake, but should enjoy the moments they are there for the ride. 

Athletes like her don't come around often. In time, I hope some can look back and say they competed against the best the world had to offer, and were all the better for it. 

Hit me up on Twitter for a swagtastic voyage. 


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