Franklin confident of getting back to her best
Olympic champ set to make impact again after back injury
Three years ago, a teenage Missy Franklin set the swimming world on fire by winning four golds and a bronze at the London Olympics, along with a world record in the women's 200m back.
She followed that up with an impressive showing at the Fina World Championships the following year, claiming a record-setting six gold medals.
But the past two years hadn't been peachy for the backstroke specialist, now 20, after injuring her back at the Pan Pacific Championships last year.
Her confidence was shorn after that incident, her first major injury in her career, and she is still on the comeback trail after that setback.
She failed to defend her 100m and 200m back titles at the World Championships this year in Kazan, Russia, although she was part of the teams that won the women's 4x200m free and mixed 4x100m free relays.
"I think there were some wonderful things to take away from Kazan and also some disappointments," said Franklin in an e-mail interview with The New Paper, ahead of next weekend's Fina Swimming World Cup in Singapore. She is currently competing in the Hong Kong leg.
"It was really hard not being able to defend my titles in the backstrokes but, at the same time, I walked away with five medals and helped my team break a world record in the mixed free relay with one of the best finishes I've ever had in my career."
While she failed to replicate her pre-injury form at this year's Worlds, Franklin feels heartened by her performances in Kazan.
She said: "My injury last year was the first of my career and really one of the first meets I've ever been really disappointed in.
"It takes a lot to gain the same confidence back that I had before my injury... Going through Worlds this summer really helped regain my confidence, not necessarily because of my results, but that of how well my back held up and how much I fought in every race."
While she's had to juggle her studies with training previously, she's adjusting to life as a pro now, going full-time earlier this year after completing two years as a psychology major at the University of California at Berkeley.
Her first decision as a professional swimmer was to move back to Colorado to train with her old club, Colorado Stars, under her previous coach Todd Schmitz.
While she faced world-class competition in Berkeley from her peers, her training partners in Denver are primarily high school swimmers.
And she previously said that it would be tough and not fun going through hard training if she wasn't able to share the experiences with peers whom she enjoys talking to.
But she insists she's still having fun now, as she trains towards the US Olympic trials in Omaha next year, and the Olympic Games in Rio next August.
She said: "I would have fun anywhere. California has one of the most unique training environments I have ever been in and it is so hard being away from such a special place.
"But I have incredible teammates and coaches back in Denver as well and they make every day fun for me.
"My results from 2012 are definitely motivation looking ahead. I had such an incredible experience in London.
"And I feel very confident already having one Olympic experience under my belt."
- The Fina Swimming World Cup will be held on Oct 3 and 4 at the OCBC Aquatic Centre. Admission to the morning heats at 9am is free, while tickets for the evening finals, which start at 6pm, are available on www.sportshubtix.com.sg from $25.
"They always challenge us. It’s always an incredible battle and they always bring their A-game no matter what. They make us better and we’re all really grateful for that."
— Missy Franklin on the threat posed by China at next year’s Rio Olympics