A month ago, Missy Franklin told Good Morning America that she would be returning to the University of California, Berkeley to resume her studies. She did not specify, however, where she would be continuing her training. Beginning last week, however, she was back on campus and training in the post-graduate, professional group led by Cal men’s head coach Dave Durden.
Franklin is the second high profile Cal women’s swimmer to choose Durden in Berkeley in recent times. Natalie Coughlin made the move in 2014 after over a decade swimming for Cal women’s head coach Teri McKeever. The move seemed to pay off in 2015 for Coughlin, who posted a lifetime best in the 50 free at that year’s Pan American Games.
2016 was another stormy for Coughlin, as she failed to make the Olympic team and added time across the board. She ultimately withdrew from the 50 free, her final race, at the Olympic Trials citing that she did not believe it would go well.
At age 34 Coughlin will likely face incessant questions about whether she is retiring. To date she has not signaled that she is stopping her swimming career, but where she will continue her training remains uncertain.
Durden is coming off a year in which his swimmers took seven medals in Rio, including three from current collegiate swimmer Ryan Murphy. He was recently named ASCA Coach of the Year for his accomplishments.
Franklin swam at Cal for two years as a member of the Women’s team under McKeever. In both years she set NCAA records, including a 1:39.10 performance in the 200 freestyle in 2015 that was more than three seconds faster than the 2016 winning time.
Internationally, Franklin struggled in her first year at Cal, coming away with only an individual bronze outside of relay medals at the 2014 Pan-Pacs. She rebounded in 2015, winning a silver in the 200 backstroke and bronze in the 200 freestyle, as well as posting the top American leg on the winning 4×200 free relay.
Franklin left Cal to begin her professional career in 2015, returning home to train with her club coach Todd Schmitz in the leadup to the Rio Olympics. Franklin failed to medal or swim on a night relay for the Americans in Rio.
Franklin is now banking that Durden can be the coach to help her turn her career around as she begins a new Olympic quad.
Both Durden and a representative for Franklin declined to give comment on the situation.