Multi-Olympian Missy Franklin reveals intimate moments of her career as she overcame fear or doubt to produce the best version of herself and confirm why all the hard work always pays off
WiSP Sports Radio is brought to you by Hyland’s Earache Drops
(f)empower is hosted by Kara Lynn Joyce & Christen Shefchunas
Podcast length: 54′ 20″
In this season finale before Kara and Christen take a summer break they are joined by a living legend in swimming. Missy Franklin shares some special moments in her career, how she faced her fear and found her confidence, how important her family and supporters have been in her journey, how she overcame depression. We hear how she felt going into her first Olympics Games having qualified for 7 events, how she knew when she dived in that a race was hers, how moving to Georgia was a bold but best decision for her and how she loves her life there and new coach.
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KARA: Hello and welcome to Episode 10 of (f)power on WiSP Sports Radio where we believe that women in sports deserve equal coverage. WiSP Sports Radio is brought to you by Hyland’s Earache Drops. We are your hosts; I’m Kara Lynn Joyce.
[00:00:16] CHRISTEN: And I’m Christen Shefchunas.
[00:00:19] KARA: (f)empower is a podcast where we talk to women and girls in swimming and sports who inspire us. Today, we welcome a woman who needs no introduction, a dear friend of ours. Missy Franklin welcome to (f)empower.
[00:00:34] MISSY: Thank you guys so much for having me. Also Christie, that was the first time I’ve ever heard your last name and I’ve been saying it so wrong.
[00:00:44] CHRISTEN: Shefchunas and I still spell it wrong every time.
[00:00:48] MISSY: I think we have literally been saying it like, I don’t know how I’ve been saying it.
[00:00:49] CHRISTEN: Well now you know.
[00:00:49] MISSY: We’ve been talking on the phone every week for how long and it took me this long! Minor details.
[00:00:49] CHRISTEN: Exactly, exactly.
[00:01:10] KARA: Well Missy we’re so excited to have you on our show. We have talked to many many women in previous episodes and I don’t know about you Christie but I feel like her name comes up almost every single show like you, you inspire so many women around you, you have no idea. Like it’s just who you are. You’ve always been like a topic or you know your story comes up in some way and so it’s almost like you know it’s the last episode of the season and to have you on it’s everything’s coming full circle.
[00:01:41] MISSY: That means the world to me. You guys have had some unbelievable women on the podcast let alone the two of you who I can’t thank you enough for creating content like this. I think it’s so important. And there are so many incredible stories to be shared and I’m honored I get to do that with you guys today.
[00:01:57] KARA: Thanks. Well so I know that you’re humble and you would never brag about yourself so if you don’t mind I’m going to go through some highlights. I could go through all of them that that would take the whole show so I picked my personal favs that I just want to inform the audience just to refresh everyone’s memory about why you’re such an incredible athlete. These are just you know your sports accolades. So Missy you and I met when, well we started training together when you were 15 and you had braces and that was in 2011.
[00:02:37] MISSY: Thank you for reminding us all of that.
[00:02:39] Never forget yeah, and that year, I remember just like I remember seeing the results online my own and being like what?! So October of 2011 at 16 years old Missy you broke your first world record. And I believe it was in Berlin at the World Cup.
[00:02:58] MISSY: It was yeah, and it was probably one of the most unexpected swims of my whole life. I remember looking at the scoreboard and seriously thinking that they had like a malfunction like their electricity like something had broken the board. Like something’s happening!
[00:03:11] KARA: Well, well-deserved. So your first world record and you were rested for that, like I remember when you and Todd left for that meet like that and seeing the world record like and it’s not like you hadn’t been on the radar you know you had an incredible world championships that summer and it was just like you…that momentum that you kept and you pushed you well through to the fall where you broke a first world record so I love that swim. Another accolade that I am so proud of is that you’re the first female to ever qualify for seven events at the Olympics. Like Christie were just talking about this and it’s like OK what do you do like accidentally qualify for seven events would you be like yo that’s like a pretty like big schedule. Can we like dial it back a little bit. Like did you ever have a thought like maybe I should like scratch or what?!
[00:04:05] MISSY: Oh a hundred percent. I remember sitting down with Todd after trials and it had definitely kind of started to settle in a little bit like during the meet you don’t really have time to think. I think anyone who’s been to Olympic Trials knows it’s just so high pressure it’s so intense that you just survive. I mean you do whatever you can to get through the meet so it wasn’t until a couple of days after that it sort of hit me like oh my gosh this is going to be my first Olympics and I’m swimming how many…
[00:04:34] KARA: Seven events, it does not equal seven swims like some of your events are three swims each and you’re not doing 50 is like you’re doing 200.
[00:04:42] MISSY: Exactly. Oh my gosh, absolutely. It was still you know I think about it and it’s a bore like I mean trials the Olympics everything it just goes by so fast, there’s so many emotions. But I think at Trials itself I was just so in the moment I didn’t really realize what was happening and once I kind of had time to sit down in between I got a little intimidated by it and I realized it was going to be my first Olympic Games, I was going to be swimming seven events. And like you said it’s not just swimming seven times you know for four of those or three of four of those, yeah four of those I was going to be swimming three times each hopefully and then relays. So I knew there was going to be a lot on my plate going into it and I sat down with my coach Todd and he was amazing. He had a moment with me where he reminded me that this is exactly what we have been working for. And I really had to remind myself that I was prepared and just because it was my first time didn’t mean that I was any less ready to go out there and accomplish my dreams than anyone else was.
[00:05:49] KARA: Yeah that like I hope people can understand just how full of a schedule that is and my hat goes off to you for just how you handle that, your composure. You know you were 17 but you seemed so like confident and wise beyond your years and as a rookie on the team I know so many of the veterans were looking up to you. And so that’s one of my favorite highlight.
[00:06:15] MISSY: That means the world.
[00:06:17] CHRISTEN: That says a lot.
[00:06:19] KARA: Yeah. So I’m not going to spend too much time I told you I could spend forever on this, but Missy when you won your first individual gold medal in the 100 back [stroke]. I remember that race so vividly because you know I’d watch you swi the 100 back for a year and a half and I knew how you swim that race so well and when you flipped I want to say you were like 29 low or something like that. You didn’t necessarily flip first at the 50 but when you flipped it was the fastest you had ever taken out your 100 back that I had ever seen and you flipped in second and I turned to Jack Roche who was sitting next to me and I was like oh my God she’s going to win this. And he was like are you sure and he grabbed my arm and I swear I almost fainted because it was like like just so surreal and like one of my most fond memories. But can you talk a little bit about that like your first gold medal were you expecting it, like what was that like?
[00:07:24] MISSY: Absolutely and it’s so funny, I mean when you train with people it’s just like you’re saying you get to understand them. I mean with every little detail of their stroke, their races, how they swim it. So exactly how you just described your thought process that was literally what was going on. I was like as soon as I got to the 50 and I turned and I saw that I was with Emily Seebohm who is a longtime friend and an unbelievable athlete and she was the favorite going in. As soon as I turned 50 and saw that I was with her I knew in that moment that I could win it. And that was my goal going into that race because I think I have a lot…not necessarily more… but my big race but my big race was the 200 back. That was the event that I really had all my confidence and that was kind of my money event. 100 backstroke has gotten better and it was just something that you know I really wanted to do well. But may not have been expecting a goal.
[00:08:24] KARA: It’s not a given.
[00:08:26] MISSY: Yeah exactly. So I went out there and that’s exactly what I told myself I was like I know I can bring it home. I know that. And you know the depths of my soul I know I could have the last 15 metres to take it out of the rest of the field so I was like if I flip and I’m with everyone I know that I’m putting myself in the position I need to be to get my hand on the wall first.
[00:08:50] KARA: Oh absolutely. So not to like skim over it too quickly. But you know later on in that meet, and and I always like people are like what do you think the hardest event in swimming is and I’m like 200 back hands down no question like no competition. I don’t think it’s wonderful…I think it’s a 200 back. And so for you to swim that 200 back you know to be looking forward to it all week after having swum a gajillion times like this is on what day seven of the Olympics that you have like the hardest event in your lineup and you went a 2:04:01 like you shattered the world record. And I think to this day it’s one of the most impressive women’s world records on the books.
[00:09:34] MISSY: Thank you, oh my gosh that whole race was like…
[00:09:41] KARA: Were you like; I think I can go 2:04:00 like how is that like for you.
[00:09:46] MISSY: You know I was thinking so much less about a specific time. I knew, I knew that breaking a world record would be incredible. And ultimately like that was, that was like the dream of all dreams at the end of the day. But I truly just wanted it to get out there and see what I could do. Like that’s my favorite thing about swimming is it gives you the opportunity to do more than your best. Like you go out there and you find that you’re capable of doing things that you didn’t even know you were capable of doing and that 200 back was a moment like that for me where I had confidence going in and instead of putting any kind of expectation on myself in terms of a place or a time I just wanted to go. I just wanted to swim and swim the best 200 back of my life.
[00:10:33] KARA: And it looked like you were having fun. That doesn’t always happen.
[00:10:35] MISSY: I was, I was. I tell people all the time. So when there’s an international competition, they have cameras that are on fly wires above the pool. And when you’re doing backstroke they get kind of close like you can … the camera that it’s following you. And obviously when you’re doing backstroke you’re on your back so I’m looking up into the lens of the camera and the whole time I’m thinking like don’t look at it like a funny face, don’t make a funny face, stay focused, be serious.
[00:11:09] KARA: Oh my gosh, I love that, that’s awesome. OK, I swear I only have two more, only two more. Next is my favorite short course race and Missy I don’t know if you know this, I’ve cried so many times you actually use it like so much. Yeah yeah. But when you broke 1:40:00 in the 200 free at the NCAA.
[00:11:33] MISSY: Oh yeah, yeah.
[00:11:33] KARA: If you don’t mind, that was like one of the craziest races and also one of the most impressive records on the books because you didn’t just break 1:40:00, you went 1:39:01, like you almost 1:38:00. And you were up against Simone, like you had tough competition. That was a race that everybody was looking forward to for the whole meet. And I really like in one of your post interviews you talked about your conversation with Terry, your coach at the time at Cal before that swim. Can you talk a little bit about your mindset going into your last, one of your last individual NCAA races of all time.
[00:12:12] MISSY: Reaaly, so that’s actually one of the races I’m, I’m most proud of because of the way I handled all the pressure that was around that race.
[00:12:22] KARA: And all the pressure and attention.
[00:12:25] MISSY: Yeah. It sounds funny, you know you look ok yeah it’s not a race in the Olympics, it’s not a race at World Championships. But I think as wonderful as competition can be when media and fan bases and people get involved in specifically pitting two swimmers against each other to swim a race, it can be really tough. It was tough for me I’ll speak for myself. Simone is an unbelievable racer and throughout that whole process of us racing in season, at PAC 12 going into NCAA’s the race became so much more about Simone versus Missy, rather than just Simone being her best self and Missy being her best self. And so I was really proud of how I was honestly able to tune that out. That was one of my first times where I really was kind of had this battle as they really set it up to be. And I was able to just focus on what I needed to do. And that’s exactly how I went into that race was I’m gonna swim my own race. Similar to what you were saying about knowing how I swim my 100 back, I knew how Simone swam a 200 freestyle. I knew that I was probably going to be out faster and she was going to come home with an unbelievable 100 and I was going to have to hold on for dear life, like I knew that but I still wanted to make sure that I was going out there and not changing anything about my race or the way I wanted to swim it based on how I thought Simone was going to.
[00:13:57] KARA: Yes, it was so evident that you were like this is my race. I’m going to swim it. It seemed like you took control as soon as you dove in and I love that. Not not just that you went you know 1:39:00 but I just love how you had so much confidence and like command over that race. And it was like nothing else mattered.
[00:14:18] MISSY: It was, you know I think those are the best swims. I think a lot of swimmers agree that the best ones are the ones that you really feel in control of because a lot of times we don’t right, there’s races, there’s practices where we feel like we aren’t in control so I am I’m so grateful for Simone ‘cos I can, I can promise you right now there is no way I would have gotten 1:39:00.
[00:14:45] KARA: If she had not been in that lane next to you.
[00:14:45] MISSY: No,and in her own way I think we were able to really benefit from being able to race each other and make each other better.
[00:14:51] KARA: Oh for sure. Ok last one I promise I promise. My last, not my last but on my list of most memorable moments for you and swim’s. This I think is to much less fanfare but all your finals at the 2016 Olympic trials in the 200 free Missy I don’t mean I don’t think I’ve ever seen you fight so hard. And like I got tears in my eyes during that race, and you didn’t win, you didn’t go a best time, you didn’t break any records like you got second to Allison Schmitt. But I have never seen you fight so hard. And you know it’s not a secret that meat didn’t go how you know people anticipated or how you had planned. But I don’t know where you pulled your… whatever you had in you. I don’t know where that came from but it came from a special place. Can you talk a little bit about that you know like going into that swim and just like being like you know what world like I’m taking this; I want it and I’m taking it.
[00:16:00] MISSY: Absolutely, I, you know you’re saying it’s no secret that the trials was so so tough for me in 2016. And I think you know it was probably actually two days prior to the 200 free, that was my hardest day in my swimming career. When it was my hundred backstroke, prelims and semifinals and I had spent the last 12 months convincing myself, or so I had thought, that I was going to be ready when I needed to be ready. That I know you know my meets throughout the year I wasn’t going the times I was going to but it was ok, like keep training. You’re training the best you ever have. And when trial rolls around you’re going to be ready. And I remember diving in and swimming my prelims 100 backstroke and the second I took my first stroke it was like I knew that everything I had hoped would be there, wasn’t there, and going into semifinals that night and getting seventh; that was the moment where I realized I was not going to be making the team in the 100 backstroke and I went home that night, to the hotel, and sobbed. I mean absolutely sobbed for hours on end and got up the next day, same thing, got seventh didn’t qualify, but I think was less emotional having gotten it all out the night before and I remember walking into the 200 freestyle and that’s exactly what I was thinking is; this is going to be a fight. Like This is going to be the most fight you’re have ever shown and are ever going to have to somehow pull from you know from your heart from everything you’ve been doing and that race, I just remember coming home and burying my head and I don’t even think I was thinking about anything. I was literally just trying to move my arms and legs as fast as I possibly could and I still to this day don’t know how I don’t know how I got second. How that happened. I don’t know where it came from but again swimming now has that ability to allow you to be more than what you think you are and more what you’re capable of doing and that was for sure one of those moments for me.
[00:18:19] KARA: Oh yeah, absolutely, I have like full body chills just listening to you talk about it and reflect on that time. So those are… you’re the first person that we’ve gone like so deep into the highlights but honestly like I could do this all day with you. Those are just a couple highlights. If you don’t know you know Missy’s best races or how she felt going into them. That’s it.
[00:18:45] MISSY: You tell me about how emotional you get with my races, can we just gush…when you [KARA] made the team… I thought I was going to pass out. I thought I was going to pass out. In the stands with your parents, with my parents who were all sobbing. I mean oh my God…that’s the best, best moment.
[00:19:16] KARA: I think when you train next to somebody for so long and and you know you and I were really we were training partners, we were friends, we were emotionally invested and like wanted the best for each other. And it’s almost like you feel more for that person than you even feel for yourself and those good moments. You know so that we’re watching you like win that gold medal like I almost fainted you know I’ve never almost fainted after one of my races maybe a bad one but like… And I think that’s something that a lot of people don’t really know. It’s hard for them to really imagine why these meets are so emotional for us but that’s a huge reason is that trials. It’s not just you making or not making the team. You’re also watching your best friends either make or not make the team. And that is equally like you more so as devastating or as exciting. I mean the emotions you are feeling are just amplified in each and every direction.
[00:20:14] MISSY: Luckily for us, those are some good ones.
[00:20:18] KARA: They were good ones. Well Missy now you are at the University of Georgia and you’re training away.
[00:20:26] MISSY: Go Dogs.
[00:20:27] KARA: Yeah. Go Dogs all the way. You’re training with Jack Bauerle; my former coach, my former program, my pool. Like, I couldn’t be happier for you know where you’re at and where you are headed over the next two years leading into Tokyo. And how is everything going at Georgia, how’s. Jack, what’s the vibe like, tell me about that.
[00:20:49] MISSY: It’s amazing. I have been absolutely loving every second since I’ve been here. I moved here in January so it’s been a little over seven months. And it was just very very quick transition. I got here, I started training, I started school. I mean everything was just kind of… I was thrown headfirst and it’s been wonderful. I think this is really the place where I need to be, do what I want to do for the next two years and it’s training like I have never done before in my whole life. Christie tells me umm it’s more than once about how I literally like training camps for seven months. It’s amazing and it’s so challenging day in and day out I don’t think I’ve ever been challenged by a program more. But what makes it so wonderful are the coaches, are the people here. Tthe Collegiate team here now is incredible and then to top it off we have a postgrad group of I think about 10 people which is massive and just really really dedicated and hard working athletes that want to achieve their goals, that are willing to do whatever it takes. So being in an environment like that is is really special. So I’ve been loving it. Jack is just the best human in the whole world. He’s one of those really special coaches that cares infinitely more about the swimmer as a person than the swimmer as a swimmer. And I just appreciate and value that so much and so I more than anything have enjoyed watching mine and Jack’s relationship grow into into what it is now and even seeing what it can be. But some of my absolute favorite moments I’ve had here so far are the times where I’ve just sat and talked with Jack after practice for 10-20-30 minutes just sitting down and just you know talking together. Athens itself too is just precious. I love this town, I love the school. So overall I think it was one of the best things I could have done for myself.
[00:23:11] CHRISTEN: That’s amazing. Now it’s my turn. I get to ask some questions.
[00:23:16] KARA: I know, hogging.
[00:23:19] CHRISTEN: Well you know I want to go the confidence route here. But before that you did make this huge decision you know to leave Cal and go to Georgia and I’m sure a lot of people are kind of wondering how you did that because those kinds of decisions those kinds of life changing decisions are so hard because they are so scary and there’s so much unknown to them. And Kara and I were talking about it the other day. I think that’s what keeps so many people stuck where they are because of the fear of the unknown and making these big decisions so kind of talk us through how you found the courage to make that change.
[00:24:02] MISSY: Absolutely. So I think for me my greatest challenge in making a move like this and in making big life decisions is less about fear of the unknown and more so about who this decision is going to impact other than myself. And so coming up on this decision it took a lot. It took a lot of thought, a lot of time and I’ve had to make some decisions like this in the past. And they’ve been very very difficult for me because I can promise you that every big change, every big decision that you’re going to make in your life that is the best thing for you. Chances are it may not be the best thing for everyone else in your life whether it is a move and you have to move away from a loved one, from a best friend. Whether it’s leaving a job and you know having those relationships with your fellow employees being hard. I mean there’s there’s a lot of different ways that people can take a decision like this. And so my biggest fear is that my intentions were going to be construed in some way and that all the people I love and care about like would somehow be hurt by my decisions and so I worked with a therapist back out in California who is amazing and my whole time you know through the past several years has taught me that the best thing that we can do is what’s best for us. We have to make the decisions that are best for us because that’s what’s going to help us be who we were meant to be the best version of ourselves. And if we are the best versions of ourselves everyone around us is going to benefit from that no matter what. If we’re keeping ourselves in a situation that’s holding us back that’s making us unhappy, that’s not benefiting the people who are around you and it’s not benefiting yourself and the people who understand that and who truly love you and want what’s best for you, they will stay by your side always. And so I really had to believe in that in making this decision. And thankfully I was surrounded by people who did really want what was best for me and gave me the best wishes and so much support in my decision to come to Georgia.
[00:26:25] CHRISTEN: Preach it sister.
[00:26:27] KARA: I know Amen. I want to take that little tidbit of recording and just send it out to the world what you just had.
[00:26:38] CHRISTEN: That’s amazing. So let’s go into this confidence piece. I mean you know, you know me well enough that, you know I don’t sugarcoat and we know you don’t sugarcoat it anymore either. And obviously we know those you know you had a couple of years that just did not go well. But before that everything did go well…. so when everything’s going well there’s not a whole lot to be afraid of. You know as I say that the eight year old kid that gets up on the block and every time they swim they go a best time, what’s there to be afraid of?! But the first time they don’t go a best time then the next time they get up they have a new question for themselves and it is what if that happens again and fear will it enters the equation. Obviously you are a lot older than that. You know and everything kind of went well up until you know you know into your 20s or you know late teens. So a new a new question has been brought into your life, a new fear has been brought into your life by these disappointments. Then we add on some surgeries and then we add on a huge life transition. So let’s…
[00:27:57] MISSY: Yeah, what else can we throw in there.
[00:28:04] CHRISTEN: So I want to talk to the you know the people listening you know talk to them about how you’re handling this new fear. Talk to them about how you, how’s your confidence, what you’ve learned about confidence you know through this, just kind of give them a clue into your mind about your confidence.
[00:28:26] MISSY: Absolutely. So I’m just going to start off by saying I by all means have not conquered that fear. I’m not going to sit here and be like I had it and it was tough but now I’m great and I’m super confident again like I 100 percent honesty, I think about that every time I get into the pool I think about the fact that one of the truths that I base my life on. I mean did everything with the value of hard work will always pay off. I mean that was what I grew up on and that was what my career proved to me you know coming up that’s what it showed. I work hard every day I make sacrifices. I do my absolute best. And I’m going to achieve my goals. And then all of a sudden I’m thrown in this ringer of here I am. I’ve worked harder than I’ve ever worked before. I’ve made more sacrifices than I’ve ever had to make and it’s paid off less than it ever has and that rocked my world. I mean really really shattered me and I was left with wondering you know what I truly believed in like the kind of person I was whether or not I could ever even believe even that again. And it’s still something you know on tough days when practice is really really hard. I have that little voice creeping in my head saying is this going to be worth it. Is this going to be worth and in the end is it going to payoff and the best way that I figured out how to handle it so far is is getting back to that truth. Yes. It will always pay off. But maybe not in the way that you are expecting it to. And that’s really really helped me because I realize that in my mind the way it was going to pay off was by going a best time, by breaking a world record, by winning a gold medal. Now I’m in a place where my hard work paying off may not manifest itself in something in the pool. It may not be a best time, it may not be another medal, it may be some kind of personal growth that I would have never experienced if I hadn’t had to push through these tough times. It may have been me being able to grow really really close to another team mate and forming a relationship I’m going to have for the rest of my life. And so recognizing that everything I’m doing every day is making a difference and trusting that it will make a difference exactly how it’s supposed to in my life is really really helping me get through it.
[00:31:18] CHRISTEN: Gosh, I love that.
[00:31:18] KARA: It’s like Missy is really wise beyond her years. Like I’m listening to her and I’m like oh my God it’s like medicine for me. Yeah but it’s so true.
[00:31:32] MISSY: Learn from the best.
[00:31:38] CHRISTEN: But you know there’s no doubt that there’s learning and there’s growth. And you look for the silver lining and you look for the good stuff but it straight up sucks. You know, there is, this is what Missy and I have been talking about so much. I mean there are moments that you just can’t sugarcoat it sucks. It hurts. And we have to feel our way through that. You know we can’t just sit there and pretend we’re fine all the time right. We need to feel our way through that. So kind of talk to me about that because I know that that is something kind of new to you because you’re such a positive person. You are somebody that you know everybody is like; whenever I see her she has a smile on her face, she’s awesome, she’s energetic..and then the hard times hit. And it’s a little harder to be positive. Talk to us about that and how how you’re dealing with all of that.
[00:32:36] MISSY: Yeah absolutely. So I mean that was another truth of mine that was totally rocks was you know that I was the happiest person alive. And that was what a lot of people would tell my parents whenever we were at events or meeting different people they would often go up to my parents and they would say wow she’s she’s the happiest person we’ve we’ve ever seen. And that was a 110% true. And in my mind it still is. It’s just very very different than 17 year old me. And I think that was one of the issues why my depression got as bad as it was because I was so afraid of the feelings that I was feeling and I felt like they somehow went against who I was or who I was supposed to be in my mind. And so when I finally you know again works through this with help, with therapy, with understanding that where our feelings are our feelings, they’re not good, they’re not bad, they’re honest. That I needed to be as honest with my feelings as they were being with me. And Christie part of the work that I’ve loved so much that we’re doing together is this idea of being real, and being positive. I don’t know if I ever would have believed before that it’s possible to do both and it is a 110% possible to do both. And so I’ve really tried to focus on you know. All right. There’s you know a really really tough week. I’m exhausted. I’ve been having terrible practices all week. I really don’t want to go again I don’t want to have to go through another two hours of miserable work out where I’m going to swim slow. And a lot of times I would almost let that like cripple me. And now I really just have to stop myself and be like OK well let’s assess here. All right. You don’t want to go to practice, makes perfect sense. You’ve been swimming horrible all week. Like who would wanna go, who would want to practice. But what do you want, like where, what can you get out of this practice. You know can you still go and do something, can you still go and fight for something today and then afterwards do something to make you happy. Can you get through this practice. Just trying to break it down into smaller pieces and being like OK yeah I don’t want to go to practice today. But I know that I can and I know that I can still go and do the best that I can. And I’m going to feel really good about that afterwards. Does it feel good now. No it doesn’t but when I get through it and when I feel like I’ve really pushed myself to achieve something today. It’s going to feel pretty awesome.
[00:35:18] CHRSITEN: Yeah I love that but you know what we’ve been talking about is OK this is how I feel we’re walking down the street and it may not be super positive but we’re going to feel our feelings, we’re gonna, you know. But at some point we need to turn the corner into something positive. So I always envision a street and then turning the corner into something positive and you’ve just been brilliant at that and embraced it and it’s just been so amazing to see. And what’s cool is you’re teaching other people that too. Because I remember it you know a friend of yours was texting you.
[00:35:57] MISSY: Yeah. It has helped me so much. And you know we’ve talked about this too but I can’t even tell you how annoyed I get when people just say oh just think positive like don’t be…like thank you so much that’s life changing advice like I personally feel like if we just tried to think positive and suppress how we’re actually feeling and fake ourselves and just feeling you know positive or something we’re not. Those feelings are just going to get stronger and they’re going to manifest in ways that we don’t want them to and I really think that’s what happened with me in 2016 is I think yeah I could tell myself as many times I wanted to. Yeah you’re going to be ready when you need to be ready. You’re going to have the best Olympic Games of your life. Yeah. Just don’t worry you’re going to be ready. Well really deep down, I did not believe that because you know not becasue I wasn’t thinking you know all the time day in and day out. I was able to kind of trick myself into thinking that that’s how I really felt when it wasn’t and so so much of you know what I talked to some of my other girlfriends about some who are swimmers, some who are not. It’s just like be real and then make the best of it. So like you’re saying one of my girlfriends is at a meet and she texted me and she was like right before final she was like; ‘I really don’t want to swim right now like I’m very ready for this meet to be over, I’m exhausted, I just want to go home’, and I texted her and I was like OK great. That’s how you feel. And she texted back and was like; ‘wait, really?’ And I was like yeah, really. And she was kind of blown away. She’s like; ‘I’m really surprised that you’re kind of validating my feelings right now. Like you’re understanding that it’s really hard for me to be here.’ I was like absolutely, it’s hard you don’t want to be there, and I’m really proud of you for being honest but you’ll live, you’ll turn the corner. You have one more race. That’s reality. And knowing who you are and what you’re capable of you’re going to go out there and you’re going to leave it all in the pool like you always do. You’re going to leave with nothing left and you’re going to be proud of the effort that you gave tonight finishing up this meet. And I think that for her I remember just meant a lot and being able to validate and recognize that her feelings weren’t bad because she wasn’t so excited to swim this race when she was exhausted and tired. They were real. But with those real feelings then comes OK now what am I going to do about it, how am I going to make this situation, you know into that something positive, how am I going to make myself better through this?
[00:38:59] CHRISTEN: Absolutely. I can talk about this all day and I feel like I need to say this to you because we as women when we get a “ust think positive” we try to, right, and then we can’t and then we wonder what’s wrong with me that I can’t be positive and we start beating ourselves our. So like I said I got to go all day. But Kara actually has some questions from some people that heard you were going to be on the podcast. And I think she has three of them.
[00:39:27] KARA: I do but also but can I just say that I am taking my personal notes for myself. It’s just like therapy for me. And Missy just like hearing you say that it’s OK. Like what you’re feeling is validated because you’re feeling it and it’s OK to have those feelings and you don’t have to feel guilty about them. Like that’s really powerful and I think that’s something that a lot of women like when we when we feel things that we don’t think we should or that we think are wrong like maybe we’re feeling negative about a situation or we’re dreading something and it’s it is ok to feel that way and you don’t have to double down on yourself and then feel guilty for feeling that way. I think that’s really powerful. So thank you for that. All right so questions from the audience. We had people e-mail, we had some DM’s, [direct messages] we had a lot of different people reach out. And we selected just you know quickfire three questions for you Miss. So first what was your inspiration to start swimming?
[00:40:40] MISSY: So actually it’s one of the reasons why I am a USA Swimming Foundation Ambassador but my mom both my parents are Canadian, if anyone did not know that I have dual citizenship and my mom grew up in Nova Scotia and the only water she could swim in was a little too cold for her taste so she never learned how to swim. And even till this day she can get in the water, she’s fine but she won’t go in the ocean and if she ever gets above her head it really freaks her out. And she did not want to pass that fear on to me and I am so grateful for that because fear of the water is generational. If a parent has it, it’s statistically proven that they will pass it on to their children a good percentage of the time and so for my mom to say no I don’t want my daughter to have the same fear it means the world to me so we got in a Mommy and Me class at a YMCA when I was 6 months old and I just loved the water. I was one of those babies that they dunk in and out and I’m laughing hysterically the whole time. They could just never get me out of the water so I joined my summer club team when I was 5; I wanted to whe I was four but they wouldn’t let me and the year round when I was seven and you know the main inspiration was just I loved it. I loved being in the water. I loved racing. I loved my teammates. And now that was all I needed to just want more of it.
[00:42:19] KARA: I love it. OK. Who was your biggest athletic inspiration growing up?
[00:42:26] MISSY: My biggest athletic inspiration was Natalie Coughlin and swimming she. It was just incredible. I remember just watching her swim and her strokes how graceful she was. I mean I was really just in awe of someone who can make swimming look so beautiful. Her accomplishments speak for herself. So I just grew up watching her just thinking she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. And outside of the water it was Billie Jean King just growing up and really you know being taught and recognizing what she had done for women in sports. I didn’t fully appreciate it until a little bit later I don’t even know if I still fully appreciate it, what she did. But she was someone who I always looked up to as well for never taking no for an answer.
[00:43:29] KARA: I love it. OK last question and I secretly selected this one because I also kind of want to know what’s the hardest set you’ve ever thrown down?
[00:43:41] MISSY: That’s a good one.
[00:43:47] CHRISTEN: It might be lately huh.
[00:43:57] MISSY: Oh my gosh, Monday morning rainbow sets, just kill me now. There’s not one that distinctly sticks out to me because I think swimming can be hard in so many different ways because I’ve had some sets you know some practices are 7500 meters that are deathly and I’ve had some practices, I’ve had some main sets that are a 1000 meters that are deathly. It’s like it’s just so different in terms of what you can do. I think I’ve done some really really hard sprint sets that you know never actually sound that bad and may only be a 900m but when you’re all out sprinting giving everything you have that is a very different kind of hard than having to maintain a difficult base for a long period of time. So for me personally I think my most challenging sets are threshold 100’s. The one that we do here that thankfully I’ve only got pulled into it once, it’s long course and we do 100 rotating on 115 and 110 and we do 20 of them and those are really tough for me just trying to hold on to that and I think those sets are so hard because they have a huge mental component as well. It’s not like each 100 you’re physically all out sprinting as hard as you can go but you have to find a pace to maintain over a period of time that is really uncomfortable and then mentally get yourself through the set and telling yourself that you can do it that you can get through it and that you won’t die. And so I feel most accomplished after those kinds of sets as well because I knew that I didn’t just get better physically but I got better mentally as well.
[00:46:02] KARA: Oh yeah I love that. It’s a great answer. It’s like you know any on any given day, it’s what you make of it. It’s what you make of what’s what’s given to you and then what’s asked of you. And it can be challenging for one person and like a walk in the park for another.
[00:46:20] MISSY: I should say I’m very protective of sprint groups because they get a lot of a hard time from other you know mid distance groups you know because their sets are shorter somehow they’re seen as not as difficult and I think it’s just every group is a very different kind of hard. Like distance groups – if you are in a distance group you have a place in heaven like it, like it is secure, I’m convinced. But it’s so different. Like you know for each person you know sprinting somebody is an unbelievable distance swimmer might have a really hard time with the sprint set and vice versa. So I just think you know it’s important to remember to be respectful of everyone and their specialties and not judging you know what’s hard based on your own version of it.
[00:47:19] KARA: Absolutely. Well our last question this is from both Christen and I just to to finish off our talk with you today. You’ve dropped so many awesome just like tidbits, words of wisdom, things that I think a lot of people can really use and value. But but for you Missy, what do you want your legacy to be in this sport; what’s the Missy Franklin legacy?
[00:47:50] MISSY: I want my legacy to be that I was a better person outside of the pool more that I was a swimmer in it. And to me that has always been the most important thing. But especially over the past several years I realized just how important that is. Swimming is my first love. It has given me the ability to have a platform to reach people to inspire, to talk about what I think is important and I an so grateful for that. But at the end of the day records are going to fall, my name will eventually be nowhere on any board on any world record and the times that I’m going now are going to seem slow in probably the way swimming is going in like five years, like oh a 2:04:00, oh my gosh we’re going 1:59:00 now. The one thing that people will always remember is how you make them feel that something that never goes away and it’s never forgotten. And so my legacy is just to make each person feel as special as they are and to make them feel loved and appreciated and important. And I’m really grateful for swimming for giving me the ability to do that with a lot more people than I would have without it.
[00:49:15] KARA: I think Christin could agree that you probably do that better than anybody that we know you are such a light to be around. You are so giving and I think you’re living your legacy. So that’s amazing.
[00:49:30] CHRISTEN: Absolutely. Now Missy I don’t know if you know this but at the end of our podcast we always like to throw out a challenge to the people listening. And so Kara and I were talking about it and we decided that we would like to challenge everybody with that same question. What do you want your legacy to be? I mean those of you listening: Missy this woman who has won all these gold medals and has world records her legacy has nothing to do with that. You know it’s about how she’s treating people it’s about the impact that she’s making in this world. So really think about what do you want your legacy to be and to the young female swimmers out there. It’s really easy to get caught up in practice and start you know getting negative and start talking behind people’s backs and start you know just kind of being a negative nelly. Is that the legacy you want to leave. Like next time you catch yourself getting a little bit negative or complaining you know say is this really the legacy is this what I want to be known for or do I want to be an encourager or do I want to be an inspiration. Do I want to help others. And really you know it’s never too late to turn the corner and go into that you know go into the positive and go into really thinking about what do you want your legacy to be. So that’s our challenge for today. But Missy, there’s really no words to explain how much we love you and and how grateful we are to have someone like you in our sport with all the young women you know on Instagram following these women with 20 million followers and looking up to these women and it’s mortifying for me as a 43 year old woman to know that we in the sport of swimming have someone like you that young women can look up to. It really fills my heart and soul and makes me feel better about our future. So we thank you and we love you.
[00:51:31] MISSY: Oh I thank you guys because I would not be the person I am today if I didn’t have role models like you. And I’m so grateful for everything you guys are doing to help young women, to help every woman, to help people in general just be who they are and be the best versions of themselves. I’m truly truly honored to be a part of that and to be a part of watching you both without your own legacies.
[00:52:00] CHRISTEN/KARA: Thank you.
[00:52:00] KARA: Thank you for joining us, we did go a little long but it was just so good we couldn’t stop. And you know as we speak you have a big meet coming up in about a week and a half so we want to wish you the best of luck at Nationals. You know we’ll be cheering every every step of the way.
[00:52:19] Please visit our sponsors Hyland’s Earache Drops at www.hylands.com/ear-pain. For more conversations from the world of women’s sports visit us at wispsports.com and follow us on all social media platforms were @WiSPSports, @missyfranklin88, @karalynnjoyce @coach_christian and @leadsportssummit. You can find WiSP Sports Radio on any podcast player. We’ll be back next season with a brand new episode of (f)empower.