‘She’s so good for Colorado’: Missy Franklin rejoins her Regis Jesuit team
By Julie Filby
Photo by Julie Filby/DCR
Missy Franklin kicked off her first local meet of the season much like she ended her last one at the London Olympics: with her hand on her heart singing the National Anthem.
OK, there were a few differences.
This time she wasn’t competing against the world’s elite, in the most high-tech of facilities, amid great international fanfare–and she didn’t have a gold medal around her neck. Still, the 17-year-old simply couldn’t imagine not swimming with her high school team during her senior year at Regis Jesuit in Aurora.
On Jan. 8, the five-time Olympic medalist joined the 75 other girls that make up the squad for a dual meet against Highlands Ranch. It was held in the unassuming pool that sits in a bubble behind the school, crammed with a few bleachers and covered with state title banners. About 300 parents and classmates came to watch.
“One of the best parts about staying amateur is I’m still able to do things like this,” Franklin said after the meet. “I have given up so much for that.”
Franklin chose to maintain amateur status following her Olympic success, forfeiting millions of dollars in endorsement deals, and committed to swim at the University of California Berkeley next year. Recently she also decided to swim with Regis Jesuit this season: a decision she didn’t take lightly.
“I totally understand that (some people) are concerned that I can take attention away, and it’s totally true,” she said. “I feel so guilty whenever that happens. ... I want to make the sport better, definitely not take away from it at all.”
Regis Jesuit coach Nick Frasersmith has heard nothing but positive comments since she made the decision.
“She’s so good for Colorado ... our athletes ... our swimmers,” he said. “She brings the level of swimming up in Colorado; that’s who Missy is, and that’s what swimming and high school sports are about: working for your teammates and enjoying it.”
She has given so much to the school that has given so much to her, he said.
“Some of the girls have been friends of hers since 10 or 11 years old, so she’s grown up swimming with them,” he said. “It just feels natural for her to want to be a part of (the team).
“I’m so happy,” she said flashing that familiar smile. “The second I made the decision, I felt a hundred times better, just being able to work out with my friends and spend time with them. You get so close to a swim team because you go through so much together.
“To be here with them, my senior year, my last year at Regis, means so much.”
Franklin handily won two individual events: 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle; as well as swam lead-off in two winning relays: 200 and 400 free relays. On Jan. 15 she participated in a dual meet against Cherry Creek and Feb. 8-9 she will compete in the 5A state championships in Fort Collins. Sixteen team members in all have turned in state-qualifying performances: 14 swimmers and two divers.
“It was so awesome to come back to my first high school meet in what feels like forever,” Franklin gushed. “My Regis sisters are absolutely incredible.”