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One of the very cool perks of my job is to get to meet and chat with athletes of all levels, including Olympians. Just a couple of months ago, I interviewed swimming superstar Missy Franklin for an Olympic build-up story highlighting "Secrets of Champions". Admittedly, at the time I had a vague notion of just how talented Missy was. I'd read about her enough to know that she was making huge waves in the swimming world. But what I didn't expect to discover was just how poised she was. I was so impressed by her modesty and her enthusiasm. She is a rarity among elite athletes...so young, so fast, but just so normal.
With all of the Missy Mania happening at the moment because of gold and silver (so far) in London, I thought I'd post the outtakes of my Q&A so you all can read a bit more about this phenom.
Sarah Wassner Flynn: What is the best advice anyone has ever given to you? How have you applied that advice to your career as a swimmer?
Missy Franklin: I’m lucky to compete with many older swimmers on the National Team. It’s hard to pick out just one example as everyone has great advice for what it’s like to compete at such a high level and stay focused on racing while juggling things like school and times with friends. One constant theme has been to stay in the moment and enjoy every minute of the experience. That advice has really helped in practice and at competitions. In practice, I have fun with my friends and look forward to seeing them each morning and night. We support each other and this helps me get through some very tough sets. I was so fortunate to
go to Australia last summer with other National Team swimmers to train for the World Championships and
then to Shanghai to compete. I enjoyed every moment of every day. I appreciated that here I was, a 16
year old teenager, actually visiting these incredible places that most people will never see. I believe this
attitude assisted me in managing the pressures at the World Championships. I was relaxed and was able
to contribute 5 medals to Team USA.
SWF: If you could name one secret to your success as a swimmer, what would it be?
MF: My secret to success is to be mentally ready for competition. Yes, of course it is vital to be
physically ready, to set goals and train hard. But when the moment comes when I need to perform, I
know I’ve done the work necessary and it all comes down to confidence and faith in my abilities. At the
competitive National and International meets it can be very intimidating and easy to lose focus. Mental
preparation or the lack of it can make all the difference.
SWF: Have you ever had an experience where you surpassed your own expectations--or those of others,
especially when there were odds stacked against you? How did you manage to come out on top?
MF: In October 2011 at the World Cup in Berlin, I was tired and not rested for the meet. I had been training very hard and had just competed in Moscow. I wondered how I would do. I felt no pressure and went all out in my favorite event, the 200 Back. I felt good in the race. I got in the groove with my stroke. As I touched the wall I heard an enormous applause and wondered what had happened. I looked at the times and saw that I had won GOLD and also noticed a “WR” by my name. I had just claimed my first World Record! I learned so much from this! You never should give up and should always try your best. You never know when it will all come together and give you a moment to remember forever!
SWF: What are some tips you have for other people out there going after their own goals?
MF: My advice is to love what you do and have fun with it. As others have told me, stay in the moment and enjoy your sport. I try and live the life of a normal child or teenager. Take control of your sport and what you want to do with it. Don’t let it take over your life. Finally make time for your family and friends. I am successful because of the love and support they all give to me. I would be nothing without them.