In Retirement, Olympian Missy Franklin Can Now Barely Swim

Nearly two years ago, five-time Olympic champ and eleven-time World champ Missy Franklin of the United States announced her retirement from competitive swimming at the age of 23.

Since then, Franklin has been active on the philanthropic front, as a USA Swimming Foundation ambassador and a Laureus Academy member, among other roles. However, her time in the pool is now characterized by merely short stints here and there, which is as much as her injured body can handle in retirement.

Speaking recently to People Magazine, Franklin says, “I mean, my shoulders are in so much pain that I can maybe hop in the pool and swim easy for 20, 30 minutes, but that’s about as much as my old broken shoulders can handle at this point.”

After unequivocally declaring “absolutely not” when asked if returning to competitive swimming was in her future, Franklin said, “I kind of feel like I’ve given everything I possibly could to the sport and now it’s to do good outside of the water.

“I never got the second shoulder surgery that I needed and I just — I don’t really see getting back in the water at this point in my life being the best thing for my physical or my mental health.”

During the years of 2012 to 2013, Franklin was one of the most dominant female swimmers in history, claiming four gold medals and a bronze at the 2012 Olympic Games. She followed that up with a record six gold medals in seven events at the 2013 World Championships.

However, back spasms threw her journey off course at the 2014 Pana Pacific Championships, with her 2015 World Championships performance slipping to an individual silver and bronze, with an additional three relay medals. Franklin made the 2016 U.S. Olympic team but didn’t medal individually. She took gold with the 4×200 free relay as a prelims swimmer.

In This Story

91
Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of
91 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Cody Miller's dolphin kick(s)
1 month ago

This is so sad

Olympian
Reply to  Cody Miller's dolphin kick(s)
1 month ago

It is, was she faking back then when she used to repeat so many times that she was having so much fun racing??

Texas
Reply to  Olympian
1 month ago

She probably did like it when she was winning.

To olympian
Reply to  Texas
1 month ago

Olympian sounds bitter

Olympian
Reply to  To olympian
1 month ago

Not at all, just went through the same thing during my career…
And in my case, most times keeping a positive attitude for the sake of my teammates was the hardest part.

D2 Swammer
Reply to  Olympian
1 month ago

That’s why I had to stop. I wasn’t in physical pain but I was the upbeat guy on the team and I was at the point where I would be so anxious I felt like I was about to vomit for days before the meet and during meets. The emotional toil of hiding that for the sake of morale just got the better of me. Hopefully I’ll be able to do masters and not struggle with that in a few years.

Anonymous
Reply to  Olympian
1 month ago

It’s not so much fun when your body is in excruciating pain

Coach MM
Reply to  Olympian
1 month ago

I bet she was having fun racing but not training. You can go through a race without noticing much of pain. But you can’t escape the pain during training.

Greg
Reply to  Olympian
1 month ago

I don’t think her shoulders hurt like they do know at 2012 Olympics. I suspect that the shoulder issues came in the last couple of years of her career.

Ferb
Reply to  Greg
1 month ago

…Right around the time she started swimming for Cal.

Swim mom
Reply to  Olympian
1 month ago

She just grew up and is in a different place now?

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  Olympian
1 month ago

Yozhik, is that you

TheShortSwimmer
Reply to  Olympian
30 days ago

Maybe, I dont know. Personally, I dont think she wanted to stop, but she had no choice.

Anonymous
Reply to  Cody Miller's dolphin kick(s)
1 month ago

She could help the swim community a ton if she invested time into telling us how she thinks this happened. It’s so sad and I think parents would be interested in avoiding it. When my kids were younger, I always wondered if their shoulders or something else will be trashed by age 30. I would definitely appreciate a deep investigation of possible things that can be avoided by younger swimmers. Or if she thinks the problems may have happened later, what variety of things may have lead to this. We ❤️ you Missy!

50free
1 month ago

How did her shoulders get so bad? Over training or poor technique?

Swimmer A
Reply to  50free
1 month ago

It can also be physiology. I dealt with a lot of shoulder and hip problems during and after my swimming career. Just born with really loose labrums in my shoulders and hips. It probably gave me extended range while I was swimming, but also was my downfall.

NoFlyKick
Reply to  Swimmer A
1 month ago

Yup.

Eddie Rowe
Reply to  50free
1 month ago

Her technique was always pretty amazing. Most likely just overuse.

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  Eddie Rowe
1 month ago

I recall the underwater streams of her 200y Free American record from NC2’s. She went out in 47.7, & watching her pull – it was amazing. Anyone else recall that?

meeeee
Reply to  50free
1 month ago

Maybe her coach needs to chime in? Our club has been very militant about shoulder pre-hab and has a pretty good track record. I know it isn’t a guarantee.

Coach
Reply to  meeeee
1 month ago

How does this get down voted?

Carly
Reply to  50free
1 month ago

And genetics/anatomy plays a big role, too. There were times I wondered if my own shoulder pain was all in my head, but then my younger brother (a rower) ended up needing the same surgeries at the same age. There are some things you just can’t escape!

Sean S
Reply to  Carly
1 month ago

Stress level can also contribute to pain and inflammation she was dealing with a ton of stress post London.

Captain Ahab
Reply to  50free
1 month ago

Over training and poor technique was not her problem. It could be the fact that she put on a lot of weight from high school to college, bad rotary breathing rotary while doing front crawl in practice, and not drinking at least 2 liters of water everyday. She needs to have a doctor take a close look at her anterior cervical spine, sternocleidomastoid muscles, scalene muscles, t5 spine, c7 spine, and L5 spine. For whatever reason (slip, fall, posture, alignment) sometimes vertebrate start to shift out of alignments and causes shoulder pain. That’s why I recommend swimmers to find a good chiropractor and get neck adjustments every 4 weeks.

Bruh
Reply to  Captain Ahab
1 month ago

c’mon. not cool man lets support her rather than making unsupported claims

Dudeman
Reply to  Captain Ahab
1 month ago

Did you really toss in not drinking water as to why her shoulders and back got injured on top of all that?

DawgTalk
Reply to  Captain Ahab
1 month ago

Totally disagree. Her 200 free at NC’s was, in my opinion, still one of the most dominant performances in the history of college swimming. She didn’t lose anything when she went to college.

Eastcoast
1 month ago

This is an incredibly sad article but I do not think it should overshadow the success Missy has had, and continues to have in her retirement. She has been an amazing role model for all swimmers.

Jason Zajonc
Reply to  Eastcoast
1 month ago

What an amazing swimmer and role model. She made it to the top as a athlete. I wish her nothing but the very best. I am 47 and i had shoulder pain from younger days swimming in the NCAA’s…miles and miles does that to certain people for a million reasons. I don’t blam her for not wanting to get another surgery…they are not fun…and she did what she did so let’s all let her enjoy retirement…HEY GREAT Job!!!!

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

Read More »