Missy Franklin’s Mom is the reason she’s a swimmer, and America’s great hope

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Missy Franklin has plenty on her plate. She's a high school junior, worrying about the daily concerns of a teenager, things like prom dresses and finals. She's also possibly the greatest American hope for glory in the London Olympic pools less than three months from now, assuming she reaches the heights that have been expected of her at the Olympic Trials on June 10.

How does Franklin keep all of that under control without breaking down completely? One word: Mom.

Now, on Franklin's 17th birthday Friday, and two days before Mother's Day, the teen has released a video -- seen first here on Prep Rally -- dedicated to her mother, D.A. Franklin, and her mother's own dedication to the teen's success. The video was filmed as part of the U.S. Olympic Committee's 'Raise Our Flag' campaign, in which anyone can donate $12 to purchase a stitch of a national Olympic flag of support which is designed to help support U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

In Franklin's case, she almost certainly wouldn't be a world class swimmer if it wasn't for her mother, and her mother's own struggles with the water.

"My mom actually started me swimming when I was very, very young because she's afraid of the water," Franklin said. "She wanted me to be comfortable in the water, wanted me to enjoy being in it, and ever since I was a baby, being in the water has been like my second home."

The importance Franklin's mother has had on her life should come as no surprise, given the lengths to which the Centennial (Colo.) Regis Jesuit School junior has had to go to compete at the highest level from such a young age. As perhaps the most important non-Missy member of "Team Franklin", D.A. Franklin is helping her daughter push away the media pressure and deal with her own expectations, which -- according to a terrific profile from the Denver Post -- focus on not letting down anyone around her.

High school junior and U.S. Olympic hopeful Missy Franklin — Getty Images
High school junior and U.S. Olympic hopeful Missy Franklin — Getty Images

"When I go to a meet, I want to swim fast for everyone who came out to see me swim and see the whole meet and see everyone else," Franklin told the Post. "I want to put on a good show for them. If I do the best that I can, no matter what, it would be hard to disappoint myself.

"I'm completely ignoring [media expecations]. I'm not even thinking about it. I love all the support I'm getting and all the good- luck wishes and everything from everyone. But you know what? They can expect anything they want to, but the only thing I need to focus on is myself and what I want to do and what my expectations are. That's all that matters."

That, and family, of course. The comfort that Franklin has in her own skin, despite all the pressure around her, is a testament to the role they have played in her life. And, given her mother's motivation for starting Franklin at such a young age, one even wonders if any of us would know about Missy Franklin if not for D.A. Franklin's very direct influence.

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