Missy Franklin Won’t Swim US Nationals After Double Shoulder Surgery

Two-time Olympian Missy Franklin won’t compete in major national or international competition this summer after surgeries on both of her shoulders.

The 22-year-old has been a staple of the U.S. National Team since 2010. That was the year Franklin – then 15 – qualified for the Pan Pacific Championships and eventually won a pair of silver medals at Short Course Worlds.

In 2011 and 2013, she was nearly unbeatable at the World Championships. In 2011, she won three golds and five total medals. In 2013, she set a new World Championships record for women, winning 6 gold medals. In between, she was a quadruple Olympic champ in 2012.

But Franklin has hit a run of adversity in the years since. Back spasms severely limited her production at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships, though she still netted four medals. She was a bit off her usual otherworldly pace in 2015, and last summer only qualified for the Rio Olympics in two of the four events she contested in London in 2012. She would win a gold medal as a prelims swimmer on the 4×200 free relay just three years removed from being the best 200 freestyler in the world.

NBC Olympics reports that Franklin had surgery on her left shoulder in January to combat bursitis, only to return to the pool and find she needed the same surgery on her right shoulder as well. Franklin has been back in the water training, but the NBC report suggests she only started completing full practices in May. Franklin said she and coach Dave Durden decided that trying to compete this summer could rush Franklin’s recovery unnecessarily.

To get back to full health, Franklin won’t compete at Nationals this summer, which will also keep her out of the World Championships. It’ll be the first time since 2009 that Franklin isn’t a part of USA Swimming’s top-level summer international championship meet.

In the most Franklin way possible, the 11-time world champ joked about missing summer season for the first time in years. From the NBC report:

“I’m going to have some serious FOMO [fear of missing out],” Franklin said with her signature laugh. “It really hasn’t hit me yet.”

Franklin didn’t put a concrete timeline on returning to competition, saying only that she’d return “when I feel like I can give my best effort.” In the meantime, Franklin plans to continue working with USA Swimming and the USA Swimming Foundation, along with taking some time to be something she hasn’t really been since becoming an international swimming icon – normal.

“I’ve never had a normal summer before,” Franklin told NBC, saying she hopes to have “the most average 22-year-old summer I can possibly have.”

In This Story

Leave a Reply

12 Comment threads
25 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
32 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Tom from Chicago

She might seriously regret not going pro after 2012. Those 2 years at Cal may end up being very expensive. I hope she has a speedy recovery and gets back to the :58 and 2:04 form shortly.


Missy is not a person of regrets. She intentionally decided not to go pro and chose to do the college swimming route. She will be awesome at whatever endeavor she chooses to do with her life.


She may claim she has no regrets, but I don’t believe that for a second. It was a poor decision to do college swimming half-time just “to have the experience” and not for your team or to finish your degree timely. She also gave herself tunnel-vision on Cal while recruiting and didn’t consider better options because “her hero” Nat went there, and then proceeded to ruin her career.

Ledecky did it right, Franklin did it wrong. Commit to the whole ride or don’t do it at all.


Interesting how you know what’s best for someone you’ve probably never met or even spoken to.

Coach John

life is much more than a time and a medal. she went to CAL for the team aspect and got that in spades. I highly doubt she looks at that decision and think “I missed out on the cash to swim with these girls?”

Coach MM

She is the only child and her family is rich. I bet she doesn’t regret CAL. She will be fine financially.

The Grand inquisitor

Not going pro in 2012 did not hurt her that much financially, because she made bank going into 2016. Failing to live up to the hype in 2016 hurt her future earnings much more.


Alternatively, she might seriously regret going pro in 2014 and missing out on 2 years of the richness of CAL varsity swimming, given that the financial returns have probably been lower than anticipated


I hate to say it, but I think she is done with being able to compete at a pro level.


Unfortunately me too. I think she will be great though promoting swimming to little kids and getting more people into the sport.

M Palota

I disagree, in no small part because I so much want to see her back in the sport. She really is such a bright light and a truly wonderful person. (She came to the Mel Zajac a couple years back was just tremendous with the public, especially little kids wanting her autograph.) Shoulder surgery is not career ending. Lot’s of athletes have come back after that sort of procedure. I don’t think that’s going to be an impediment. And maybe a summer spent as a “normal 22 year old” will recharge the batteries mentally. I should say, too, that whether or not a comeback is in the cards, I – and I’m sure so, so many others – truly wish… Read more »


Think it depends on where the problem was , why it developed & remnant damage . The difference now is that better coaching techniques have been able to bring other girls to backstroke prowess later in their careers . For instance Masse & Hosszu & Holly Barratt . The US college system with its turns is bringing forth new contenders . I note that MF barely held off Lisa B from Texas A & M in the 200 at trials ( not to mention DiRado) .


I disagree too. If Franklin were 32 maybe I’d be singing a different tune but she’s only 22. Healthy 22 y/olds recover from shoulder injuries quicker than anyone and good on her and here inner circle for not rushing back. I’m sure there will be other big meets next year, and the year after and so on…. 🙂


Look at Anthony Ervin. He was “done” in his early 20s and came back better than ever in his 30s. Missy is far from done if she wants to keep going.


Yeah but missy and Ervin are a terrible comparison to make look at the events they swim he swims the 50 she swims 200 back 200 free 100 back, you see older males like Ervin and older females like Torres swim the 50 with success as they get older all the time but it’s much harder with Missy’s line up


But she’s still over 10 years younger than he is. That makes up for the different events.


I hope I’m wrong, I’ve always admired her determination. That said it just seems like she is constantly battling injuries. No matter how young you are that eventually takes a toll on anyone both physically and emotionally.


I doubt she will ever be back at the 2011-2013 level, but I think if she wants to she will be able to compete at a pro level. If nothing else, she is very charismatic and friendly and will be a great ambassador for the sport.

bobo gigi

Not a surprising news.
The good side of that injury, if we must find one, is that she’s forced to take a break and I’m pretty sure she needed a break for 2 or 3 years.
I wish Missy the best possible recovery and I hope she will come back next year fully healthy and refreshed mentally to surprise us again.


She has needed a break since 2013, that was her last phenomenal year. I hate seeing swimmers I admire regress, I wish her the best as well.

Coach John

eventually every single swimmer will regress…. she will handle it with grace as usual and who’s to say if she ever races again. I have a feeling swimming and promoting the sport she loves will always be a big part (but not the only part) of her life


I am not an orthopedic surgeon or anything, but having shoulder surg. sequentially in a young athlete was I am sure a serious and thoughtful decision. I think this explains her decreased performance, but if surgeries were successful why not expect her to be at her 2012 level? She is only 22 and at that age, everything heals remarkably well.

Steve Nolan

“I’m pretty sure she needed a break for 2 or 3 years.”

Booboo knows best, you guys! He might be across the world and only watching online, but he totally knows!

(My phone autocorrected that name, I’m keeping it.)


Booboo always thinks he knows best. 50s in stroke at the Olympics please.

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 …

Read More »