Missy Franklin, 5-Time Olympic Gold Medalist, Retires from Swimming at 23

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2018

Four-time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin answers a reporters question during a news conference at the U.S. Olympic team swimming trials in Omaha, Neb., Saturday, June 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

Five-time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin announced her retirement from swimming Wednesday at the age of 23.

She made her retirement official with a letter published on espnW.com.

Franklin noted that she was diagnosed with "severe chronic tendonitis of both the rotator cuff and the bicep tendon," which contributed to her decision to step away from the sport.

When Franklin was told she needed surgery to correct her injuries, she decided against it since she already underwent procedures on both shoulders to alleviate pain last year.

Franklin said that she eventually plans start a family with her fiance:

"I began to realize that my greatest dream in life, more so than Olympic gold, has always been becoming a mom. Swimming had been such a huge part of my life for as long as I could remember, but it was not my entire life. I still have dreams, goals, aspirations and intentions I plan on living out every day of my life. I will never be able to express in words how grateful I am for swimming—for the places it has taken me, the lessons it has taught me and, most importantly, the people it has brought into my life."

Franklin closed her letter by saying that she still plans to be involved with swimming, just not as an active competitor:

"This is by no means the end. Rather, I choose to look at this as a new beginning. Swimming has been, and always will be, a big part of my life and I absolutely plan to stay involved in what I believe is the best sport in the world, just in a different way. I hope to continue to inspire others to be their best, both in and out of the pool, and I'm truly excited about this next chapter and how my relationship with the sport will continue to change and grow.

"It took me a long time to say the words, 'I am retiring.' A long, long time. But now I'm ready.

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"I'm ready to not be in pain every day. I'm ready to become a wife and, one day, a mother. I'm ready to continue growing each and every day to be the best person and role model I can be. I'm ready for the rest of my life."

Franklin took the swimming world by storm in 2012, when she won four gold medals and one bronze at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London at the age of 17.

She was named the FINA Swimmer of the Year in both 2011 and 2012 for her performances leading up to and during the 2012 Summer Games.

Franklin qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro as well, but she struggled individually and did not reach the finals in her events (200-meter freestyle and 200-meter backstroke).

She was part of the 4x200-meter freestyle relay during heats, though, and won her fifth Olympic gold medal for her efforts.

Franklin's five Olympic gold medals are tied for the fourth-most among female swimmers, and her six total medals are tied for 19th all-time.