Jun 20, 2014, 4:09 PM EDT
Missy Franklin could have jumped out her chair when a reporter mentioned Katie Ledecky at a Santa Clara Grand Prix press conference Friday.
Ledecky is not at this meet, the reporter began.
“Oh, no,” Franklin immediately replied, breaking into a laugh. “She’s breaking world records in Texas.”
Teen superstars Franklin and Ledecky are set to be linked for years and Olympics to come, even if they are currently separated by about 2,000 miles (how fast could Ledecky swim that distance, one wonders). Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte are each a decade older and looking at possibly their last Games in 2016.
Franklin and Ledecky both won individual golds in their Olympic debuts in London; Franklin sweeping the backstrokes and Ledecky taking the 800m freestyle. Their ascents continued in the next year.
Franklin became the first woman to win six gold medals at a single World Championships in Barcelona last summer. But it was Ledecky who was named FINA Swimmer of the Meet, FINA Athlete of the Year and Swimming World Swimmer of the Year. She won four gold medals and broke two world records in Barcelona.
They’re gearing up for this summer’s two biggest meets, the U.S. Championships and Pan Pacific Championships in August.
On Thursday night, Franklin sat down for dinner and received a text message from her physician mother. Katie just broke a world record, it read.
“We all started freaking out,” Franklin said of Ledecky’s performance, taking two seconds off her 1500m freestyle mark from Barcelona. “[Ledecky] never ceases to amaze me. I mean, I think it’s absolutely incredible what she’s doing. I have no idea how she’s doing it. She’s unreal.”
The same could often be said of Franklin, the 6-foot-1 rising sophomore at Cal, who decided to put off turning professional to enjoy the NCAA team swimming environment for two seasons. (Ledecky, a rising high school senior, has committed to swim for Stanford, but will debut after Franklin turns pro.)
Franklin finished first, second and third in her three individual NCAA Championship swims, capping a season that saw her expand her horizons, swimming up to 1,000-yard freestyle races. Franklin has never competed at distances longer than 200 meters at major international meets.
“Doing a different event I think always gives you a nice little change,” Franklin said. “It’s really going to help my 200 going into this season, hopefully, we’ll see.”
She entered two other unusual events this weekend, her one and only Grand Prix meet of the season. Franklin finished outside the top 15 in the 100m butterfly prelims Friday. She’s scheduled to swim the 200m individual medley Sunday. She also has her usuals — both backstrokes and the 100m and 200m frees.
“This is probably the best summer if you’re ever going to experiment,” Franklin said. “This is kind of the summer to do it. I’ve been learning so much in the pool and so much out of it. It’s been really interesting getting to do some fun events here and there and try and see what I can to do better myself in my best events.”
Franklin said she hasn’t set out her plans for the U.S. Championships, Aug. 6-10 in Irvine, Calif. She will consult with her college coach, Teri McKeever.
The most anticipated event at Nationals could be the 200m freestyle, where Franklin, the World champion, could go head to head with Ledecky. Franklin and Ledecky went one-two in the 200m free at last year’s U.S. Championships, with Franklin winning by a comfortable 2.07 seconds.
Ledecky dropped the event for the World Championships, where the 200m free semis and 1500m free final were held the same night. (Looking ahead, Ledecky would seem less likely to drop the 200m free at the Olympics, where the 1500m free is not contested)
Something to think about: the last time U.S. women went one-two in an Olympics or World Championships was 2000 (Brooke Bennett-Diana Munz 400m freestyle in Sydney). U.S. men have gone one-two 25 times in the same 14-year span.
As for Franklin, she just moved into her first apartment and is learning how to cook. Salmon is her go-to meal, a step up from grilled cheese.
Franklin was heartbroken to hear about fellow Colorado native swimmer Amy Van Dyken-Rouen‘s ATV accident and severed spine June 6.
“Growing up in Colorado, she was the Colorado swimmer,” said Franklin, who was 1 year old when Van Dyken-Rouen won four golds at the 1996 Olympics and hopes to visit Van Dyken-Rouen when she’s home for 10 days in July. “That was who I was trying to live up to. That was who inspired me growing up in everything that she did.”
Franklin has also been watching the World Cup, marveling at overview videos of the stadiums, which has her thinking about 2016.
“Rio just looks gorgeous,” she said. “Hopefully I have the opportunity to go there.”
Apr 26, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT
The U.S. beat Russia in the Sochi Paralympic final.
Apr 26, 2015, 7:55 AM EDT
Also, Paula Radcliffe was interviewed by the BBC in the middle of her marathon farewell.
Apr 25, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT
The U.S.’ first opponent marks a rematch of the Sochi gold-medal game.
Apr 25, 2015, 10:33 AM EDT
Only two men have ever run faster this early in the season.
Apr 25, 2015, 9:08 AM EDT
ISAF official says demands will be made.
Apr 25, 2015, 8:53 AM EDT
Jenner explained how he felt different while winning the decathlon at the Montreal 1976 Olympics.
Apr 24, 2015, 3:51 PM EDT
Several Olympic champions are in the fields at the two meets.
Apr 24, 2015, 3:50 PM EDT
Phelps has followed Bowman to an NCAA stop before.
Apr 24, 2015, 12:24 PM EDT
Biles is in the middle of a four-month break from competition.
Apr 24, 2015, 11:09 AM EDT
Sweeney and Team USA begin World Championship play Sunday.
Apr 24, 2015, 10:26 AM EDT
NBC’s figure skating analysts will be visible daily during Kentucky Derby week.
Apr 24, 2015, 10:08 AM EDT
“I feel like he let me down, and he let the sport down.”
Apr 23, 2015, 4:51 PM EDT
But he also shares the sentiment of Bud Selig on MLB participation.
Apr 23, 2015, 2:25 PM EDT
Doug wasn’t allowed to bobsled while filming, but he recently took his first run.
Apr 23, 2015, 12:29 PM EDT
“It depends who you ask,” Keflezighi said of the U.S. Olympic Trials favorite.
Apr 23, 2015, 9:02 AM EDT
Two Olympic champions appear headed for a second Olympics, while a World champion seeks a first Olympic berth.
Apr 22, 2015, 3:12 PM EDT
Wylie had a “heart abnormality while exercising,” his wife said.
Apr 22, 2015, 2:40 PM EDT
Comaneci, the subject of a Katie Holmes-directed documentary, discussed current gymnastics topics.
Apr 22, 2015, 12:21 PM EDT
U.S. Olympic marathon and figure skating medalists are also in the group.
Apr 22, 2015, 11:48 AM EDT
Included are some potential U.S.-Brazil duels.
- Bruce Jenner: I’m a woman; Olympians react 4
- Michael Phelps to move to Arizona with coach Bob Bowman 0
- Simone Biles discusses Martha Karolyi’s team selfie, U.S. teammates, more 0
- Usain Bolt: Tyson Gay’s reduced ban ‘the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard’ 0
- Doug E. Doug reflects on ‘Cool Runnings’ 0
- Nadia Comaneci: Simone Biles’ difficulty is almost equal to men 0
- Ten sports where Brazil can win medals at Rio 2016 0
- Emotional Bode Miller medals in race that mattered most (61)
- Russian women kissing after relay victory at World Championships causes stir (60)
- IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics (47)
- South Korea filing official complaint over Yuna Kim’s Olympic silver (39)
- Zola Budd, 47, dominates college runners in 5K (33)