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Olympic Swimmer Missy Franklin Talks Rio, College… & Chris Pratt

Ah, summer. Those beautiful three months of the year that every twentysomething can’t wait for. The sunshine, the ice cream, and training for the Olympics? Wait, I think that’s just Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin. 

At just 20 years old, Franklin is a five-time Olympic medalist, making her debut in London in 2012. Now, four years later, she is still going strong and training for this year’s Summer Olympics in Rio after a brief two-year hiatus swimming with the University of California, Berkeley studying psychology.

“After 2012 I could have turned professional anytime I wanted, it was just a matter of signing an agent and saying that I was gonna be professional. But I really felt that going into my senior year of high school I wasn’t ready for swimming to be my job yet,” Franklin told Her Campus while taking a break on set with Visa in LA last month.

“I had such an amazing experience coming from my [high school] team and I knew it would only be amplified by swimming in college. I wanted to be a part of something that was bigger than myself and to fight for something that was bigger than myself,” Franklin says about her decision to swim for a college team instead of going pro straight away after London. She also knew she wanted a world class education. Although swimming for UC Berkeley allowed her to accomplish those goals that she had right after high school to be a part of a college team, as Rio approached, she knew it was time to go pro. 

When deciding who she wanted to be sponsored by, Franklin says that the most important thing to her was making sure that she found companies whose core values aligned with hers. And luckily, she found Visa: “The thing with Visa that makes it so special is that they have the same core value of acceptance and inclusion [that I have].” 

And it’s not just all talk. Back in April, the company announced that Raheleh Asemani, the first refugee athlete to qualify for the Olympics in taekwondo, will be a member of Team Visa. Besides Asemani and Franklin (middle), American fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad (right), the first Muslim-American to compete in a hijab at the Olympics, is a part of Team Visa. If this isn’t the definition of inclusion and acceptance, I don’t know what is.

Franklin agrees and says that this is the biggest reason why she loves Team Visa so much. “To be a part of a team like this that has these values and now to have a refugee on it, it’s incredible. We all battle our own battles and we all have our own stories but I think you know, being a refugee is a whole other level of having your own battle and I think it’s gonna be so inspiring.” 

Although Franklin is easily inspired by her teammates, she also says that her main goal in life is to inspire other people herself. “I take this responsibility as a role model very very seriously,” she says as she discusses how her life has changed since being in the public eye. “I always have to make sure my actions are lining up with my words,” and by joining a team like Visa, she is able to do that. 

Besides being an inspiration in the pool, Franklin already knows that she wants to have a career that she can do that with as well. “I want to be a special needs teacher. I absolutely love psychology, my major is psych, but developmental psychology is a field that my heart is just totally invested in.” And it doesn’t stop there. “I love children and I love the brain, I think it’s so fascinating. So a combination of the two would be perfect.” As long as she is making an impact, she says that she will be happy.

Along with inspiring people, there are a few other small things that make the Olympic swimmer absolutely lives for. Right now, the swimmer says, she is going through a Johnny Cash color black phase. “I am totally into black which is weird because we are going into spring and summer.” But it doesn’t just stop with fashion. When asked who her favorite celebrity crush is the answer was not too surprising: Chris Pratt. “Chris Pratt, Chris Evans, really just all the Chris’s.” Same sister, same.

When it comes to foods, a major part of training for the Olympics, there is one food that she has a hard time staying away from because of how much she loves it. “Breakfast pastries are my downfall. To me, there is nothing better than waking up to a hot coffee and like a warm cinnamon scone, like that is my version of Jesus on a plate.” If she could, she would eat breakfast foods for all three meals. I mean, who wouldn’t? 

And although she is obsessed with pastries, she does know that they are mostly off limits while she is training for Rio.“I think it was Kate Hudson or someone who said ‘You have to have a burger to stay sane’ and I totally agree with that.” She adds, “it’s really important to reward yourself once in awhile” so whether that’s a burger or a croissant if she feels like she deserves it then it’s all hers. Now that is an Olympic trend that we can all get behind. 

Isabel is a currently the Evening & Weekend Editor at Her Campus and a student at New York University in the Global Liberal Studies program with a concentration in Contemporary Culture and Creative Production. When she is not watching Gilmore Girls or playing with puppies at the local pet store, she spends her time freelancing for numerous publications about celebrities and life. You can find her work on the websites of Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Seventeen, Elle, and Buzzfeed. Follow her on Instagram at @isabelcalkins.
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