Missy Franklin officially turns pro, signs on with sports agent

Missy Franklin is wasting no time in jumpstarting her professional swimming career. A day after wrapping up her college career with three individual NCAA titles and a team championship, Franklin has signed with an agent known for his work with Olympic athletes.

While in college, Franklin was bound by the NCAA’s amateurism rules, and couldn’t sign with an agent, endorse products, or earn money from the sport apart from small reimbursements for expenses allowed by the NCAA. But Franklin, who swam as an amateur through age 20 including two college seasons, is about to finally cash in on some hard-earned profits from one of the best youth careers in swimming history.

According to the Associated Press, Franklin has selected Mark Ervin, an agent with WME-IMG. Ervin has not worked with swimmers before, but does represent Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn, pro tennis player Maria Sharapova and NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and previously worked with Olympic snowboarder Shaun White.

Franklin said her parents did the agent-hunting, allowing her to focus on her studies and her college swimming career, which wrapped up with NCAA Swimmer of the Meet honors Saturday night.

With distance swimmer Katie Ledecky saving her amateur status to eventually swim for Stanford, Franklin is far and away the top young talent moving into the professional realm this year, so don’t be surprised if we see some more career decisions from the multi-time Olympic champ in the next few months, including possible suit/apparel sponsorships.

You can read the full AP story here.

Franklin is still deciding where she will continue her training for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. She says she’ll meet with Cal coach Teri McKeever in about a week to discuss training plans as she deliberates between heading back to her home club, the Colorado Stars, or staying in Berkeley to train with Cal’s well-known professional group.

See the IMG press release below:

Beverly Hills – WME | IMG has signed four-time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin for worldwide marketing representation.

Franklin, 19, turned professional today following the 2015 NCAA Championships where she led the University of California, Berkeley (Cal) women’s swimming team to a NCAA women’s team championship. Franklin also captured three individual NCAA titles at the meet and set an American record in the 200-yard freestyle.

Recognized for her bright smile and engaging personality, Franklin became a household name during her debut at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Then 17, she won gold medals in the 100-meter backstroke, 200-meter backstroke (setting the world record), 4×200-meter free relay and 4×100-meter medley relay (also a world record). She also won a bronze medal in the 4×100-meter free relay.

“I think what WME and IMG have built across the last year is really dynamic and I feel like it’s the right fit for me as I turn professional,” Franklin said. “My focus in the pool is going to be pushing myself day in and day out to be my best self and achieve my goals and I know that my new team at WME | IMG will help me use the platform I have been given to make a difference.”

She followed her Olympic success by winning six gold medals at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona, becoming the most-decorated female swimmer in history at a single World Championships. Franklin will look to add to her international medal count at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Sochi, Russia and will compete in next year’s U.S Olympic Team Trials – Swimming where she will look to qualify for the 2016 Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Franklin was raised in Centennial, Colorado and began swimming competitively at the age of five. A member of the U.S. National Swim Team, Franklin competed for two years at Cal before turning professional.

Franklin’s team will be led by Mark Ervin, Senior Vice President, IMG Clients.

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7 years ago

I can’t say I am not enjoying the guilty pleasure of reading this juicy discussion.

In my unverified observation, bad parent has broken record of winning downvotes in a single thread, or at least the record in the difference between up and down votes. Congrats!

There are points by bad parent that I agree with (on NCAA) but her/his take on Missy’s motive and personality is way off base.

Lane Four
Reply to  aswimfan
7 years ago

Holy crap! I have never seen anyone score so many thumbs down consistently…EVER! Maybe once on a thread, but many many times???? BP, you have a set a very high (low???) standard for the rest of us to follow! LOL LOL LOL LOL Yikes! (This is all tongue-in-cheek so please, no thumbs down!) LOL

7 years ago

As cynical and distrustful as I am, I never thought Missy Franklin was fake. To me, she seems genuine. She genuinely enjoys what she does, has an easy smile and loves hanging around with people. She puts a smile on my ugly mug every time they interview her. I doubt she will remain that way as a professional athlete – how can you, when you have to remember to somehow slip the name of your sponsor in any interview – but I am willing to bet she will still be one of the nicest swimmers in and off the pool.

Reply to  luigi
7 years ago

* out of

ande rasmussen
7 years ago

Congratulations to Missy,
1st for her remarkable swims & records at NCAAs &
2nd for going pro. We all knew she was going to do this. She’ll do well as a PRO, she’s a remarkable swimmer, has a pleasant personality and has a squeaky clean reputation.

I wonder if she will complete her classes or drop them?

I’m curious to see what deals she lands and
how she swims this summer, at trials & the 2016 olympics.
Unless things go real wrong, she should make Rio in the 1 & 2 bk, the 2 free, & the medley relay and both free relays.

The questions are:

“Will she make top 2 at trials in… Read more »

Reply to  ande rasmussen
7 years ago

ande rasmussen: I wonder if she will complete her classes or drop them?

Missy has stated her intention to get her college degree from Cal. Over a longer time frame than the standard 4 years, now that preparations for RIo will become her main focus for the next year and a half.


Franklin, a sophomore, will finish the semester living and training at Berkeley and then plans to scale back classes in the fall and next spring in anticipation of the Rio Olympics. But not give up school altogether.

“If all I had to do was swimming, I think I’d go a little crazy,” she said.

The classes may be online,… Read more »

Ole 99
7 years ago

Yikes! Sounds like some people had s case of the Mondays.

7 years ago

Please reevaluate why your family is involved in swimming. Your club team experience sounds miserable and you sound bitter about the lack of benefits to your children. Swimming gave me so much as a child and is currently giving my children so much. They love competing, their friends and miss it when they are on breaks And they will never have a realistic shot at a scholarship and certainly not the Olympics. And we’ve spent a lot of time and money. It is totally worth it to us. You shoul evaluate what it is giving your family

7 years ago

>LOL Bad Parent just Ledecky’d Psycho Dad and Gina Rhinestone in the downvote competition.

I would definitely rather have a beer and hang out with Bad Parent than with you. At least he has a brain and opinion and guts to voice it out.

NCAA and college athletics should be abolished. Athletes can compete in independent clubs, the way it is done in Europe. Keep corruption out of colleges.

Regarding Missy… whatever makes her happy I do not care one way or another. She does not owe anything to Cal. They paid her tuition for two years, she paid back helping them win NCAAs. I do not subscribe to the loyalty concept. You do the job your are paid for… Read more »

Gina Rhinestone
Reply to  PsychoDad
7 years ago

haha. my contribution , if i were to do one , would concentrate on how very difficult it is to be a professional female athlete today. So good luck with it all in a world where young girls care only about instagram pics of impossible (photoshopped) images of fitness princesses not sports women .

Also , could she revert to an adult name ( Is it Melissa?) & control the rocky mountain high glee thing. I have not recovered from watching the sarejevo Olympics & seeing a mosque . I betted $5 that John Denver would jump out & sing some sickly song -which of course he did. I was i a Goth then & my instincts were right… Read more »

Reply to  Gina Rhinestone
7 years ago

Gina, honey, you, bad Parent, and I must get together sometimes. I love how your mind goes into 6 different directions (some wrong and messed up) within 60 seconds.

Reply to  PsychoDad
7 years ago

LOL you don’t call Gina/JG honey!
This is too funny

Reply to  aswimfan
7 years ago

Well, I assumed Gina is a woman; if not, fine, it still works 🙂

7 years ago

It will be interesting if the Barcelona Missy is back. You know the 6 gold medals that she won in the World Championship in Barcelona. If she doesn’t even come close, then Terri should be put out there as one of the most overrated coaches in swimming.

But this is too little too late. Competing in college was a bad idea.

7 years ago

Love Missy and her personality, but sometimes I feel like she laughs uncontrollably and it gets a bit overwhelming. Is it just me? I know she just finished NCAAs and is likely extremely tired (very rightfully so) but I’ve noticed it in other interviews too.


Redbird fan
Reply to  Swam
7 years ago

With you on this point. So excited for her pro deals to come, and can’t blame her for signing. But the giggling should have run the course by now. I notice it at nationals this summer, it was cute at 15 and 16, but time to act like the grown up that she is. Keep the sweet personality and enthusiasm, but enough already.

Reply to  Swam
7 years ago

Really? This thread has reached the point where we’re complaining about a 19 year old college girl giggling too much?? She’s too tall, is a “monster” that destroys kids’ dreams by claiming to be normal, is too self-centered, and now is too giggly – while apparently being a fake role model? Come on.

The Grand Inquisitor
Reply to  SwimEagle
7 years ago

I think the comments you object to on this thread may be just the tip of the iceberg to come, but I see that as a indication of her success – people don’t gossip and gripe about figures they don’t care about.

The reality is that she’s not a 19 year old college girl anymore – she’s a (somewhat) high profile professionally managed public figure with millions to gain. This did not come about as an accident, but was rather carefully and successfully cultivated by never failing to play to the media (why else would anyone consent to having a documentary made of their 14 YEAR OLD GIRL – stop and think about THAT for a moment – would you… Read more »

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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