Meet Regis Jesuit's Olympic hopeful Missy Franklin

After record-breaking performances with the Regis Jesuit girls' swim team last season, junior Missy Franklin now has her eyes on the U.S. Swimming Olympic Team Trials to be held this summer in Omaha.

At 16, Missy Franklin, a junior at Regis Jesuit High School Girls Division in Aurora, is the youngest member of the U.S. National Swim Team.

Ranked first in the world in the 200 freestyle and 200 backstroke, first in the country in the 100 freestyle, and second in the 100 backstroke; she's almost sure to compete in the 2012 Olympics in London, which open July 27.

Franklin will join swimming heavyweights such as Michael Phelps and Natalie Coughlin at the U.S. Swimming Olympic Team Trials June 25-July 2 at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.

Shortly after her record-breaking performances at the girls' 5A state championship swim meet Feb. 10-11 in Fort Collins, the Denver Catholic Register interviewed Franklin about swimming, how she stays grounded, and her spirituality.

Q: When did you start swimming competitively? How did you get started?

A: I started swimming competitively when I was 5 years old. My neighborhood has a summer league team and we competed in the Rocky Mountain Swim League. We had so much fun, practicing and playing every day at the pool. At meets, we set up tents, ate lots of great food, and played games between our events. I started year-round swimming when I was 7 with Colorado Stars. I still swim for Stars with coach Todd Schmitz.

Q: Not only do you represent Regis Jesuit, you also represent the country swimming with the U.S. National Team. How does it feel to consider the prospect of swimming in the Olympics in just a few short weeks?

A: I love swimming with my Regis Jesuit sisters. I'm so proud of each and every one of them. Nick Frasersmith, my high school coach; and Todd Schmitz, my club coach, worked together so I could fit high school swimming into my training.

Right now my focus is on Olympic Trials in Omaha. This is an exciting but very intense meet. All our work comes down to that one week. The top two in each event make the U.S. Olympic Team. Only 26 women and 26 men are selected for the Olympic Team. I love representing the United States and would be thrilled to make the Olympic Team. There is nothing like wearing a cap with my country's flag on it. I always remember, though, that I'm not just representing the U.S. but also my family, friends, team, school and Colorado!

Q: How do you stay grounded?

A: I have the best friends and family in the whole world. I love being with them and having fun. My friends and I do all the usual high school activities including going to dances, out to see movies, and shopping. At home, we don't talk about swimming, but enjoy just being together. We (parents Richard and D.A. Franklin, as well as 8-year-old Alaskan Malamute, Ruger) support each other and enjoy great family moments such as cuddling on the couch, in front of the fire, watching "The Sound of Music." I have the best support system in the world.

Q: How do you like Regis Jesuit?

A: In Colorado we are blessed to have superior high schools. I visited three schools, including Regis Jesuit. All were superb. However, when I walked through the door at Regis Jesuit into Tradition Hall, I immediately knew I was home. Before anyone said one word to me, I knew I belonged. I felt peaceful, happy and safe.

I was not disappointed-there is nothing I would change. I love the sisterhood, the dress code, the classes, teachers and administration. The academics are challenging, but I believe Regis Jesuit is not just preparing me for college, but for life.

Q: I understand your experience at Regis Jesuit has deepened your spiritual life and you are considering converting to Catholicism. What is your faith background? Can you share a bit about how your experiences there have impacted your spirituality?

A: My experiences at Regis Jesuit have absolutely impacted my spiritual life, in so many ways. I am considering converting to Catholicism; I'm currently Protestant.

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Going into Regis Jesuit my faith was not a very big aspect of my life. Taking my first theology classes, going to my first Masses, going on my first retreats, I began to realize how important God is in my life and how much I love him and need him. My relationship with (God) grew so much within my first three years at Regis Jesuit and I am very happy with where I am with him right now, although there is a lot of more work to do.

Junior year has really affected me because I have had two of the best experiences of my life. I was on the girls division 26th Kairos (annual retreat for juniors), then we had two weeks of service projects in the beginning of January. Both of these changed my life. I am also hoping to be selected for our winter delegation for the Belize mission trip. I am so thankful for Regis Jesuit, for they have brought God and so much meaning into my life.


Posted with permssion from the Denver Catholic Register. Official newspaper for the Archdiocese of Denver. 

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