Missy Franklin now has another award to add to her growing list.
On Sept. 15, the high-school senior was voted the USA Swimming Swimmer of the Year during the United States Aquatic Sports Convention. In earning the award, Franklin joins a list of USA Swimming's most elite athletes, including Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Natalie Coughlin, Janet Evans, Jenny Thompson and Mary T. Meagher.
Of course, with four Olympic gold medals and one Olympic bronze medal -- all at the age of 17 -- most would argue that Franklin belonged on the most elite list of swimmers already. In London, the teenager became the first American woman to swim seven events at the Olympic Games. Four of those events -- the 100- and 200-meter freestyles and 100- and 200-meter backstrokes -- were individual events.
Currently, Franklin holds world records in both the long course and short course 200-backstrokes, and she's a member of the team that holds the 4x100-meter medley relay. She also holds the American record in the 100-meter backstroke.
Given her achievements in 2012 alone, it's hard to argue against Franklin as the best American performer of 2012. Sure, there are those who would argue that Phelps deserved to win the award for his medal haul at the 2012 Olympics Games, which made him the winningest Olympian in history.
But think about this: Phelps won four gold medals and two silver medals in London. Franklin won four gold medals and a bronze medal, and she added two world records to her list of London achievements.
Phelps achieved his success as an Olympic veteran, and he knew what to expect heading into London. Franklin achieved her success as a first-time teenage Olympian.
In no way to I mean to demean the amazing accomplishments of Phelps, but truthfully, I'm more impressed by Franklin's performance at the 2012 Olympic Games than I am by the 2012 Olympic performance of Phelps. When you talk about the overall careers of the two athletes, it's clear that Phelps comes out ahead. But when you look solely at the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2012 calendar year, Franklin wins hands down.
The delegates who voted on the award got it right. It's definitely Franklin who deserved to win the USA Swimming Swimmer of the Year Award this year.
Sandra Johnson was a competitive swimmer for more than 15 years before she began coaching. She is a longtime Olympic fan, and while working for the United States Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs, Colo., she had the opportunity to immerse herself in the Olympic Movement. Follow her on Twitter: @SandraJohnson46
- Sports & Recreation
- Swimming & Diving
- Michael Phelps
- Missy Franklin