Missy Franklin

Missy Franklin knows she must be careful as she starts freshman year at Cal

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Cal held a press conference for its most famous incoming freshman on the eve of the fall semester Wednesday.

Welcome to the world of Missy Franklin, four-time Olympic champion and, about to be, college student. She is not your average freshman, and she knows it. That’s why she and her swim team and her school are taking extra care.

“There are so many things we have to consider and we have to think about,” she said in a room at the Cal football team’s Memorial Stadium while wearing a navy blue Cal swim team shirt and shining golden fingernails. “My parents have taught me so well. We’re talked to (Cal swim) coach Teri (McKeever) a lot, and we’re very aware of everything that we need to be aware of, and I feel very confident going into school and starting this new experience.

“We’re aware of everything, and we’re aware of what’s happening, and I feel even though there might be that microscope I can have as normal of a college experience as I can.”

Franklin said she has to be aware about posting pictures on social media of where she is, the kind of personal information freely floated by many of her new peers. She wouldn’t disclose which classes she was taking, and the name of her freshman dorm roommate is being held private, too.

The Associated Press expanded:

There have been conversations with police and campus security, and guidance on how to deal with harassment. The coach will talk to her student-athletes about being cautious to keep everybody safe and protect Franklin’s privacy.

She moved in Sunday, after flying from New York where she appeared at Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day at the U.S. Open on Saturday, put on a Cal swim cap for the first time this week and will have her first class Friday. She said goodbye to her mother Tuesday, and, yes, she shed tears.

“We got our first syllabus, and it was saying how our tests are 25 percent of our grade, so that kind of freaks me out a little bit,” she said. “But hopefully I’ll get the hang of it.”

Franklin told an interesting story of how she decided Cal was the college for her on her official visit.

“I remember walking in to the Claremont Hotel with my parents that first night,” she said. “I walked into the hotel, and I looked at them and I was like, ‘Is it bad that I haven’t even been on campus and I know I’m going here?’ I was just there, and I just knew. I just felt. It was just in my heart the whole time. The whole trip nothing felt forced. It all felt so natural.”

One reporter mentioned that another newcomer, Cal football coach Sonny Dykes, was walking down a street in Berkeley and saw a man riding a bike without any clothes on. Those are the kinds of, um, interesting aspects of Cal life she’ll get used to. Franklin let out a laugh.

“That’s one of my favorite things about Berkeley — it’s probably the most unique environment that I’ve ever been in,” she said. “You sort of get used to seeing the fun quirky people on the sidewalk, and everyone’s so friendly wherever you go, which I also love. It’s just fun getting accustomed to it, and it’s exciting living in a new place. It’s very different from Colorado, from Centennial.”

Franklin and McKeever joked about Franklin’s image. Has she ever had a bad hair day? It’s a bit of a reminder of when Tim Tebow came to the University of Florida with similar fanfare.

“I want to see her bad hair day,” McKeever said. “I haven’t seen it yet. My life as a 51-year-old tells me there are days you can’t be this happy, can’t be this put together.”

“I think some of her teammates are going to see it’s not fun to be Missy Franklin,” McKeever added, according to the AP.

Franklin became the first woman to win six gold medals at a single World Championships earlier this month. She repeated Wednesday that she plans to compete for the Cal swim team for two years and turn pro before the 2016 Olympics but still finish her degree.

Here’s what’s scary: she said there’s room for improvement.

“That’s why I’m here, and I know Teri’s going to help me so much with that, and the team’s going to help me so much with that,” Franklin said. “I’m ready for new training. It’s sort of a change of pace that I think’s going to work really well for all of us.”

Finally, the San Jose Mercury News reported a great anecdote of Franklin informing McKeever of her college decision during the Big Game between Cal and Stanford last year.

Sitting in the stands McKeever saw she had a voice message from the recruit. McKeever told her husband she couldn’t deal with it because of nerves over recruiting the best swimmer in a generation.

A little later a Cal assistant texted McKeever that Franklin needed to talk to her right away.

McKeever found a spot in the stadium at halftime to return the call.

“This is so hard,” Franklin told McKeever. “I appreciate all you’ve done. I’ve got to go with my heart.”

McKeever recalled thinking some phrases unsuitable for print.

Then Franklin let it out: she had chosen Cal.

“Did I get you?” Franklin teased.

She did.

The Cal swim season starts Sept. 21 and wraps up with the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis March. The roster also includes Olympic champion Rachel Bootsma and Olympic bronze medalist Caitlin Leverenz.

Michael Phelps gets another TV cameo

Tony Azevedo retires after 5 Olympics in water polo

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 14:  Tony Azevedo of the USA in action during the USA vs Italy Waterpolo group match at Julio de Lamare Aquatics Centre on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
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Tony Azevedo is ending one of the greatest water polo careers in U.S. history, retiring after a record five Olympics at age 35.

Azevedo, the first American to play in five Olympic water polo tournaments, said it was a tough decision but a necessary one to spend time with his family — wife Sara and two kids, according to the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram.

“The traveling and everything for them would be too much,” said Azevedo, who has a 3-year-old boy and a girl born after the Rio Olympics. “It’s time.”

Azevedo was a teenage prodigy dubbed the “Kobe Bryant of water polo.” A ball boy at the 1996 Olympics, Azevedo made a list of about 13 goals as a “slow, fat, chubby kid” who wanted to start on his high school team.

He reached all of those goals except for one — a gold medal. Azevedo made his Olympic debut out of high school in 2000 and then helped lead the U.S. to silver at Beijing 2008, his lone Olympic or world championships medal in 13 combined appearances. He led the U.S. in goals at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.

“If anyone asks, am I going to miss the swimming? No. Am I going to miss the games? No. Are you going to miss the Olympics? No,” Azevedo said. “I’m going to miss those days of grinding with your teammates.”

Azevedo was one of the top U.S. stories of the Rio Olympics, since he was born in the Brazilian city and lived there for 23 days before moving to Southern California. Azevedo, whose father was a Brazilian national team member, played for a Sao Paulo club team for much of the past Olympic cycle.

The U.S. went 2-3 in Rio, failing to advance out of group play.

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MORE: PyeongChang 2018 daily schedule highlights

Five takeaways from World Alpine Skiing Championships

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Five thoughts after an unpredictable world alpine skiing championships, looking ahead to the Olympics … 

1. Expect Mikaela Shiffrin to be busier in PyeongChang

Shiffrin chose not to enter the super-G or super combined in the first week at worlds, in order to maximize her medal potential in the giant slalom and slalom in the final weekend. It paid off with silver and gold medals.

It seems unlikely that Shiffrin adopts the same, two-race slate in PyeongChang. The 2018 Olympic schedule has the giant slalom and slalom in the first week, followed by the speed events of super-G, downhill and super combined.

Consider also Shiffrin’s mindset going into St. Moritz.

“Right now, I’m going with [only giant slalom and slalom] because I just don’t think that I have quite enough experience in speed [events] to be able to count on winning a medal in those events yet,” she said. “But by the time we go to South Korea next year, maybe I could. I might be in a position where I can at least be in contention for medals in giant slalom, slalom, combined, super-G and maybe even downhill, only because nobody’s ever skied on that track before.”

The women get their first look at the 2018 Olympic venue with World Cup races in two weeks, a downhill and super-G. Shiffrin said before worlds that she planned to travel to South Korea for training but to leave before the races start. She wanted to prioritize the following week’s World Cup giant slalom and slalom in Squaw Valley, Calif.

What’s for sure is we can learn plenty about Shiffrin’s Olympic potential in speed events this weekend. She’s set to race at the World Cup stop in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, which is made up of two combineds and a super-G.

If Shiffrin enters all three events, it will bring her career World Cup start total in downhill, super-G and combined up to 10 races. Her best finish in her first seven starts was fourth in a super-G last month.

“I have a lot of goals there,” Shiffrin said of speed events after bagging her third straight slalom world title Saturday. “Hopefully, some day, I’d like to win in super-G and downhill, but I think it’ll take some time before I can do that consistently. It’s definitely a long road from here. I still feel like I just started.”

2. Lindsey Vonn must heal

Vonn made it clear at worlds that she wasn’t 100 percent recovered from breaking her right upper arm in a Nov. 10 training crash. Her right hand movement was so limited that she couldn’t put her hair in a ponytail, let alone comfortably grip a ski pole at 75 miles per hour.

After skiing out of the opening super-G, troubled by that hand, she duct-taped her glove to her ski pole, placed fifth in the super combined and third in the downhill. She said the bronze medal felt like gold given her latest injury comeback.

Vonn became the oldest woman to earn a world championships medal. In PyeongChang, she can become the oldest woman to earn an Olympic Alpine medal.

Vonn’s biggest hurdle is her own health. A smooth finish to the season, regardless of wins, and a normal offseason is key.

“I want to be in a position at the Olympics where I’m at my top form not just struggling to kind of make it back into the mix,” Vonn said, according to The Associated Press. “It’s a different ballgame when I’m prepared.”

3. U.S. lacks young stars

Worlds went about to form for the entire U.S. team. Shiffrin and Vonn were the only medalists. No man placed in the top 10 for the first time since 1997.

Injuries and, especially, aging are the concerns.

Four-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso, out since November 2015 hip surgery, was on the team but didn’t enter any events. The top U.S. men on the World Cup in recent seasons, Ted Ligety and Steven Nyman, went out with season-ending injuries in January. Bode Miller, who has trained but not raced this season, was in the NBC Sports commentary booth.

All of them are 32 years and older. Maybe some summon one last Olympic medal surge next year, but what about after that?

Shiffrin is the only American younger than age 28 who owns a World Cup victory. U.S. men earned Youth Olympic and junior worlds gold medals last year, but they look destined for 2022.

4. Marcel Hirscher approaches Austrian legends

Hirscher was the best skier in St. Moritz, despite reportedly spending days in bed before his first race. He earned two golds and missed a third by .01 in the super combined.

Only Tony Sailer owns more individual world titles among Austrian men. Hirscher is en route to his sixth straight World Cup overall title this season, which no man from any country has accomplished.

He’s at 43 World Cup wins, 11 shy of the Austrian men’s mark held by Hermann Maier. At 27 years old, Hirscher ought to eclipse it.

But Hirscher’s résumé has a gaping hole — no Olympic gold medal. He was upset in the Sochi Olympic slalom by countryman Mario Matt. And there’s no certainty Hirscher will be a favorite in PyeongChang.

For years, he was the world’s second-best giant slalom skier behind the now-injured Ligety, who could reclaim the throne next season, though that is a tall order.

In slalom, young Norwegian Henrik Kristoffersen has been neck and neck with Hirscher but had a poor worlds.

The super combined is the most unpredictable event, but even there Frenchman Alexis Pinturault has won six of the 11 World Cup races since 2013.

5. Surprises in St. Moritz

Most races provided surprise medalists.

In all five men’s events, either the gold or silver medalist had not won a World Cup race in at least two years (or, in three cases, never made a World Cup podium). Women’s medalists in downhill, super-G, giant slalom and the super combined had never won a World Cup race.

New names were going to emerge regardless, considering the list of recent stars not racing (retired Tina Maze, Ligety, Miller, Aksel Lund Svindal) and those who did compete but were slowed or forced out by injury (Vonn, Anna Veith, Gut).

More surprises could be in store in PyeongChang given, as Shiffrin said, it’s a new track for everybody.

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