When Missy Franklin ruled the swimming pool


Missy Franklin won four Olympic gold medals and nine world titles, all before moving into college. In 2013, she was undoubtedly the world’s premier swimmer, male or female.

The 2012 London Games, where Franklin swept the backstrokes and won two more relay golds, tell just part of her story. Franklin highlights NBCSN’s Olympic Games Week programming on Friday night. A full TV schedule is here.

Franklin, then a rising Colorado high school senior, came to those Olympics as one of three U.S. swimming superstars. The men had the Michael PhelpsRyan Lochte duel.

The women had a bubbly, worm-dancing phenom already profiled by the nation’s major media outlets. They were drawn to the story of the girl who gave up millions by choosing NCAA swimming over turning professional. Franklin won three golds at the 2011 Worlds, then showed off her driver’s license in a national TV interview.

In London, Franklin became the first U.S. woman to swim in seven events at an Olympics. She joined Amy Van Dyken as the only American women to earn four golds at a single Games across all sports. She took five medals overall and nearly made it six, missing bronze in the 200m freestyle by .01.

It was hard to believe Franklin could top it. But that’s what she did at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona. Phelps was retired. Lochte was scaling back. Katie Ledecky was still on the rise. Franklin was in her own tier.

She swam a Phelpsian eight events at those worlds, withdrawing after the heats of the 50m backstroke. Franklin earned six golds and missed a seventh medal by .05 in the 100m free. She matched 1980s East German Kristin Otto for the most golds for a woman at an Olympics or a worlds.

There was more to come.

Franklin, after suffering back spasms at the biggest meet of 2014, came back for her sophomore season at Cal and shattered her American record in the 200-yard freestyle by 1.21 seconds at the last meet of her college career. It remains the oldest individual NCAA record on the books. Nobody, not even Ledecky, has come within seven tenths of breaking it.

After Franklin turned professional in 2015, she began suffering shoulder pain. It affected her before and through the Rio Olympics, where she earned one medal (gold as a prelim relay swimmer). She underwent surgeries in 2017 and, after being told she needed another operation, chose retirement in 2018.

Ledecky and Simone Manuel took the baton as the leading U.S. women. As dominant as they have been, they are strictly freestyle swimmers. Franklin, with her mastery of the backstroke and the freestyle, had her own unique repertoire that might not be replicated at that success level for many years.

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MORE: NBCSN Olympic Games Week TV schedule

Joel Embiid gains U.S. citizenship, mum on Olympic nationality

Joel Embiid

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid said he is now a U.S. citizen and it’s way too early to think about what nation he would represent at the Olympics.

“I just want to be healthy and win a championship and go from there,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Embiid, 28, was born in Cameroon and has never competed in a major international tournament. In July, he gained French nationality, a step toward being able to represent that nation at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In the spring, French media reported that Embiid started the process to become eligible to represent France in international basketball, quoting national team general manager Boris Diaw.

Embiid was second in NBA MVP voting this season behind Serbian Nikola Jokic. He was the All-NBA second team center.

What nation Embiid represents could have a major impact on the Paris Games.

In Tokyo, a French team led by another center, Rudy Gobert, handed the U.S. its first Olympic defeat since 2004. That was in group play. The Americans then beat the French in the gold-medal game 87-82.

That France team had five NBA players to the U.S.’ 12: Nicolas BatumEvan FournierTimothe Luwawu-CabarrotFrank Ntilikina and Gobert.

Anthony Davis, who skipped the Tokyo Olympics, is the lone U.S. center to make an All-NBA team in the last five seasons. In that time, Embiid made four All-NBA second teams and Gobert made three All-NBA third teams.

No Olympic team other than the U.S. has ever had two reigning All-NBA players on its roster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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LA 2028, Delta unveil first-of-its-kind emblems for Olympics, Paralympics

Delta LA 2028
LA 2028

Emblems for the 2028 Los Angeles Games that include logos of Delta Air Lines is the first integration of its kind in Olympic and Paralympic history.

Organizers released the latest set of emblems for the LA 2028 Olympics and Paralympics on Thursday, each with a Delta symbol occupying the “A” spot in LA 28.

Two years ago, the LA 2028 logo concept was unveiled with an ever-changing “A” that allowed for infinite possibilities. Many athletes already created their own logos, as has NBC.

“You can make your own,” LA28 chairperson Casey Wasserman said in 2020. “There’s not one way to represent Los Angeles, and there is strength in our diverse cultures. We have to represent the creativity and imagination of Los Angeles, the diversity of our community and the big dreams the Olympic and Paralympic Games provide.”

Also in 2020, Delta was announced as LA 2028’s inaugural founding partner. Becoming the first partner to have an integrated LA 2028 emblem was “extremely important for us,” said Emmakate Young, Delta’s managing director, brand marketing and sponsorships.

“It is a symbol of our partnership with LA, our commitment to the people there, as well as those who come through LA, and a commitment to the Olympics,” she said.

The ever-changing emblem succeeds an angelic bid logo unveiled in February 2016 when the city was going for the 2024 Games, along with the slogan, “Follow the Sun.” In July 2017, the IOC made a historic double awarding of the Olympics and Paralympics — to Paris for 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028.

The U.S. will host its first Olympics and Paralympics since 2002 (and first Summer Games since 1996), ending its longest drought between hosting the Games since the 28-year gap between 1932 and 1960.

Delta began an eight-year Olympic partnership in 2021, becoming the official airline of Team USA and the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Athletes flew to this year’s Winter Games in Beijing on chartered Delta flights and will do so for every Games through at least 2028.

Previously, Delta sponsored the last two Olympics held in the U.S. — the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

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