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Olympic Swimmer Missy Franklin Talks Going Pro and Missing College

Missy Franklin
Missy Franklin poses for a portrait at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit, March 7, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. 

While the missing-college feelings don’t typically kick in until after graduation, Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin is longing for her days at the University of California, Berkeley. The athlete is currently taking a year off, training for Rio 2016 between her sophomore and junior years.

“It’s that whole life out there, it is just something that I miss so much,” the five-time Olympic medalist tells Us Weekly. “Having that lifestyle of a college student athlete, always having something to do — there is a part of it that’s nice, not having to worry about a lot of that same stuff, but it’s also something that I got so accustomed to for two years, that it’s hard being away from it.”

The swimmer, who plans to major in psychology and minor in education, even admits she misses classes, adding that passing a molecular cellular biology course on immunology is among her greatest accomplishments.

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“I ended up, by the grace of God, getting an A in that class and it is honestly one of the things that I am most proud of,” the four-time gold medalist says. “Seriously, it’s like my world record and my A in immunology! Because it’s the same thing — you put so much effort and so much work into this and make so many sacrifices. It’s almost exactly the same thing, just a totally different environment.”

The 20-year-old, who made her Olympic debut in London 2012, maintained an amateur status at her first Games so she could swim in college.

Missy Franklin at the London Olympics in 2012
Missy Franklin (right) celebrates with the gold medal after winning the women’s 200-meter backstroke at the London 2012 Olympic Games on Aug. 3, 2012.

“I swam two years and that was the plan all along — to stay amateur, swim two years of college and then go professional a year out,” she says.

Going professional has changed the landscape for Franklin, who explained the changes during a break from filming Visa’s Global Campaign in Long Beach, California, which will be unveiled this summer.

“This is just a whole piece that, when I started swimming, I never thought that it would lead me to filming a commercial, let alone with Team Visa,” Franklin says. “It’s a whole new challenge because now, having to balance training on top of doing all this, it’s hard.”

However, during filming she was still able to squeeze in early-morning practices at UCLA.

“It makes the days longer and I’m a little bit more tired during the day, but that’s what I need. And that’s my job, to learn how to handle that the best that I can … and then come here and be able to give my all for the shoot, it works. It’s perfect.”

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And while the athlete admits she’s excited to see her final commercial, she does say it’s a little strange.

“I’m kind of nervous about that!” the 200-meter backstroke world record holder says. “I’m always like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m such a dork, I can’t watch this!’ It’s really weird for me to see myself like that because I don’t look at myself like that, but it’s been awesome. I’m just really excited for other people to see it too!”

To learn more about all the Olympic hopefuls, visit The Olympics begin on August 5, 2016, on NBC’s networks. 

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