Back woes gone, Missy's ready

Missy Franklin is excited to race Emily Seebohm, to whom she lost twice in Kazan, again in Singapore next weekend.
Missy Franklin is excited to race Emily Seebohm, to whom she lost twice in Kazan, again in Singapore next weekend.PHOTO: REUTERS

Franklin raring to turn around poor season at local World Cup leg, which is qualifier for Rio

The last 13 months have hardly gone swimmingly for Missy Franklin, a four-time Olympic gold medallist. While the American swimmer still retains her trademark megawatt smile and ever-willingness to indulge fans with wefies, they mask what has been a mediocre season by her high standards.

Last month, the 20-year-old relinquished her 100m and 200m backstroke world titles to Australian Emily Seebohm at the Fina World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

Her coach Todd Schmitz said a back injury, which derailed her at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in August last year, was still affecting her subconsciously.

But Franklin, who still holds the world 200m back record, is optimistic she can hit the same rich vein of form which saw her win four golds and set the world mark of 2min 4.06sec at the 2012 London Olympics at just 17 years of age.

In an e-mail interview ahead of next week's Singapore leg of the Fina Swimming World Cup series, Franklin said that her back problems are behind her, and that even though she turned professional in March, her passion for swimming has not wavered one bit.

She said: "Even with the new addition of endorsements and sponsors, it doesn't change the reason why I swim.

  • Franklin speaking...

    On strong competition from China at Rio 2016

    "They always challenge us. It's always an incredible battle and they always bring their A-game no matter what. They make us better and I think we're all really grateful for that."


    On Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen, double Olympic individual medley champion in London

    "I think she's more than capable of coming out and surprising everyone like she did in 2012."


    On American swim star Michael Phelps

    "He's such a leader for our team and it's such an incredible experience coming to watch the greatest swimmer that's ever lived, and compete and be on a team with him. It's so special."

    AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

"I swim because I love it and have an incredible passion for it, and that will always be why I get up behind the blocks.

"(The world record) is absolutely something that is on my mind. I would love to be faster than I have ever been before and I am working towards that goal every single day."

Franklin will be making her debut in the Singapore leg of the eight-legged World Cup series, which is adopting a long-course (50m) format this year - instead of its usual short-course (25m) format - to act as an Olympic qualifier.

While the United States hold their own Olympic trials, Franklin said getting more long-course racing experience under her belt is a major reason why she made the trip to the Republic.

Here, the American will again race her top rival Seebohm - a prospect that excites her.

She said: "Absolutely. Emily is such a joy to swim against.

"She is an incredible swimmer and an incredible person, we have so much fun racing together and she is one of the greatest competitors I have ever faced.

"I am grateful for how she is able to push me every race."

In Kazan, Franklin was fifth in the 100m back (59.40sec), more than a second off Seebohm's winning time of 58.26. In the 200m back, she clocked 2:06.34 to take silver, behind Seebohm (2:05.81).

Hungary's Katinka Hosszu, who finished third in the 100m back, will also compete at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.

Said Franklin on her maiden visit to Singapore: "I have just heard amazing things about Singapore... I am very much looking forward to spending a few days in the beautiful city and competing at an amazing venue."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2015, with the headline 'Back woes gone, Missy's ready'. Print Edition | Subscribe