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5-Time Olympic Gold Medalist Swimmer Missy Franklin Announces Retirement At 23

By Todd Kortemeier | Dec. 19, 2018, 1:08 p.m. (ET)

Missy Franklin poses prior to the 2018 Laureus World Sports Awards on Feb. 26, 2018 in Monaco.


While acknowledging that it took her a long time to say the words, Olympic gold-medal swimmer Missy Franklin announced her retirement from the sport Wednesday while also looking forward to the future.

“I still have dreams, goals, aspirations and intentions I plan on living out every day of my life,” Franklin wrote in a letter announcing her retirement. “I will never be able to express in words how grateful I am for swimming — for the places it has taken me, the lessons it has taught me and, most importantly, the people it has brought into my life.”

The five-time Olympic champion has struggled with shoulder injuries in recent years, but nonetheless will go down as a fan favorite and historic talent. Her four gold medals at the Olympic Games London 2012 were a record for an American woman in any sport. And her outgoing personality — including a viral video featuring her and the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team dancing to “Call Me Maybe” — earned her fans nationwide.

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Franklin seemed to cement her upward trajectory with six more gold medals at the 2013 world championships. Then while attending the University of California, Berkeley, she began to experience injury setbacks. First it was a back injury, then leading up to the Rio Games in 2016, Franklin suffered through severe shoulder pain. She also struggled with depression, anxiety and insomnia.

But she bounced back in Rio to record another gold medal. And after swimming this past July in the national championships, she talked about being in Omaha, Nebraska, for the 2020 Olympic trials and attempting to make a third Games. But after another injury setback, and the possibility of another surgery with no guarantee of success, Franklin elected to call it a career.

She said she plans to stay involved in swimming, as well as enjoy life with her fiancé Hayes Johnson, to whom she got engaged in September. Franklin was sure to note that though this is the end of her career, she has much to look forward to.

“I'm ready to not be in pain every day,” Franklin wrote. “I'm ready to become a wife and, one day, a mother. I'm ready to continue growing each and every day to be the best person and role model I can be. I'm ready for the rest of my life.”

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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Missy Franklin