Missy Franklin has gone from swimming for a Olympic gold medal to swimming for her high school team in Colorado. And she is loving every minute of it.
Franklin swam for the Regis Jesuit High School swim team on Tuesday during a meet in Aurora, Colo., and said she was just as nervous then as she was when she swam for a gold medal at the London Olympics.
"All my teammates were like, 'What is wrong with you?'" Franklin said. "I was so nervous and I love that. It shows me that the excitement of the sport is still there, no matter where you go. It can be here or the Olympics, but I still get so excited to get in the pool every single time.
"It was so awesome to come back to my first high school dual meet in what feels like forever. It was great."
Franklin easily qualified in all four events she entered, setting state records in the 200-yard individual medley and the 500 freestyle. No surprise there. After all, she did win four gold medals and one bronze in London.
Some people have criticized Franklin for still swimming for her high school team, saying she has an unfair advantage. Her competitors, however, are the first to defend her.
"This is really cool because she's been an idol for me," said Sydney Merritt, who swims for Highlands Ranch High School. "Ever since she won the Olympics, I wanted to see her swim. No way. It's really cool."
Highlands Ranch Coach Erica Peharda said Franklin's presence makes everyone on her team swim better.
"They were working as hard as they could," Peharda said. "Missy's such a great role model. She's very positive. The girls were excited. I don't think they felt like she's taking anything away from them. It's really cool that she's swimming for high school."
"That was all I wanted to do -- I want to make the sport better, definitely not take away from it at all," Franklin said. "That's what made the decision so hard, was the comments. I mean, that's not their fault at all, that's them being honest and giving their opinion.
"I totally understand that. They are concerned that I can take attention away. It's totally true. I feel so guilty whenever that happens. Hopefully, the pros outweigh the cons here, which I hope they've been doing."
After the meet was over, Franklin posed for photos with everyone who wanted one, sending the estimated 250 in attendance home with a smile.
"The second I made the decision to swim this year, I felt 100 times better -- to work out with my friends and be able to spend time with them. You get so close with the swim team," she said. "I'm so happy I did this."