Missy Franklin said her Rio Olympic struggles were not physical, but emotional and mental, according to Colorado media.
Franklin, a four-time 2012 gold medalist who earned one medal in Rio (gold) as a prelim swimmer on the 4x200m free relay, reflected in interviews Monday about her first year-plus as a professional swimmer.
Before turning pro, Franklin won four gold medals at the 2012 Olympics and six at the 2013 World Championships.
Her decline started in 2014 and specifically two days before that year’s biggest meet, the Pan Pacific Championships, when she suffered back spasms with pain reaching 10 on a scale of 1 to 10.
Franklin turned pro after two seasons at the University of California and moved in spring 2015 to her parents’ home and trained with her youth coach, Todd Schmitz, leading up to Rio while continuing to take preventative care of her back.
In interviews throughout this year, Franklin has not cited the previous back injury as a reason for her struggles, nor any major reason. Now, two months after the Olympics, she believes she’s found a source.
“The major thing that I’ve pinpointed is the lack of balance I had in my life for that year,” Franklin said Monday, according to the Denver Post. “My whole life, my parents helped me feel well-rounded and so much more than just a swimmer. I’ve always had school, I’ve always had friends, I’ve always had family.
“But in retrospect I took away school, I took away teammates that were all going towards the same goal, I took away friends. All of the amazing friendships I had made were back in California. I was here, alone, living in my parents’ basement, and I was just Missy the swimmer for a year. I don’t think that was good for me personally, I don’t think that was good for me emotionally or mentally, and I really struggled with a lot of that. That came through in my swimming performance.”
What Franklin said Monday were reminiscent of how Schmitz assessed her performance back in August.
“There were glimpses, so something just wasn’t connecting,” Schmitz said during the Rio Olympics, according to the newspaper. “I truly don’t think it was physical. I think there is probably something else going on there that she’s still dealing with, that we saw at trials — pressure, the load of expectations.”
Franklin announced after Rio that she would move back to California and train with other post-collegiate swimmers under Cal men’s head coach Dave Durden.Follow @nzaccardi