Missy Franklin completed a rigorous 3½-hour training session Tuesday morning, and she had another long session looming in the afternoon, but for almost 2 hours in between, the Olympic champion swimmer
made sure a group of kids knew that she was exactly where she wanted to be.
This was Bayview Elementary School in San Pablo, where Franklin, the superstar Cal swimmer with four gold medals to her 19-year-old name, was representing Playworks and Laureus Sport For Good Foundation USA -- two nonprofit organizations dedicated to using physical activity as a force for good in the lives of children.This year, Franklin was named the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year.
She signed endless autographs for her ardent supporters -- on shirts, slips of paper and anything else the kids could find -- and even played some four square.
"Honestly, seeing all these kids, and seeing what an amazing job Playworks and Laureus are doing, it energizes me," said Franklin. "I feel more motivated when I leave."
Through it all, she couldn't stop smiling, or introducing herself, simply, as Missy.
"This is her," said Herb Benenson, the Cal assistant athletic director who accompanied Franklin to the event. "This is the way she is every day."
It was a fun way to kick off the summer, which promises to be another jam-packed cluster of months for Franklin, who just finished her freshman year in Berkeley. After 10 days back home with her parents in Denver, it will be back to campus and training.
For five days in August, Franklin will participate in the USA Swimming National Championships. Should she swim well (it's likely), she can qualify for the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships, held two weeks later in Gold Coast, Australia. A strong performance at nationals would also qualify her for the World Championships next summer.
The 2014-15 academic year will be Franklin's last at Cal, where she has already compiled a glittering list of aquatic accomplishments. Afterward, she will turn professional ahead of the 2016 Olympics.
"It's a little sad, but also exciting," Franklin said. "I've had an incredible experience swimming with the Cal team. It's helped me grow as an athlete, and it's going to help me develop into the person I want to be. That's the reason I picked Cal."