The world's top female swimmer is coming to Cal, but first she's planning to reassert her dominance on the global stage.
One of the most famous incoming freshmen in the history of Cal athletics, Missy Franklin, made a splash at the U.S. championships in Indianapolis last month, winning four national titles and setting a U.S. record in the 100-meter backstroke. Now, the 18-year-old is looking to carry the momentum into international competition with another eye-dropping performance at the FINA World Championships in Barcelona, Spain, which open on Friday, though the swimming portion won't begin until July 28.
"I've been training hard and want to swim fast," Franklin said via email. "It's really such an honor to be representing my country on the world stage."
After winning four gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, more than any other female athlete at the games, Franklin returned to Aurora, Colo., last fall and graduated from Regis Jesuit High School in May.
Rather than turning pro and potentially earning millions of dollars in endorsements, Franklin decided to enroll at Cal, where she'll swim for 2012 U.S. Olympic coach Teri McKeever. Franklin is expected to compete at Cal for two years before turning pro in advance of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
Franklin said Cal felt like home from the minute she walked onto campus for her official visit.
"The swim team was obviously a big draw, along with coach Teri McKeever, but Cal is a nationally renowned school for its academics and my education is extremely important to me," she said, adding: "I couldn't imagine going to any other school."
After the World Championships, Franklin will return to Colorado, pack and head off to Berkeley, where classes begin on Aug. 29.
"I'm sure I'll drag my parents to do some dorm-room shopping when we get into town," Franklin said. "I'm going to do my best to spend as much time as possible with my parents and close friends. ... I can't believe moving day is coming so soon!"
At this point, Franklin is leaning toward a degree is social welfare, but she isn't committing to anything just yet.
"I am very interested in education and non-profits, so this major would certainly prepare me for these careers," she said. "I am keeping my options open, however, and I'm even taking an exciting class in marine biology as that subject has always been fascinating."
But before she hits the books, Franklin will attempt to follow up her dazzling performance at nationals in the worlds in Barcelona, where she'll be competing in seven events: 200-meter freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 backstroke, 100 backstroke, 50 backstroke, 400 medley relay and 800 free relay.
"My goal in Barcelona for world championships is to represent Team USA as best I can," Franklin said.
FINA World Championships
WHEN: Friday to Aug. 4
WHERE: Barcelona, Spain
SWIMMING: Swimming competition begins July 28; diving, water polo and synchronized swimming all start sooner
FRANKLIN'S EVENTS: 200 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 backstroke, 100 backstroke, 50 backstroke, 400 medley relay and 800 free relay