By BETH MAIMAN
Despite concluding a morning practice prior, four-time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin was all smiles as she joined the AWSM convention for a Q&A session at Fogo de Chao in downtown Denver.
During the session, led by Vicki Michaelis of the Grady Sports Media program at the University of Georgia, Franklin answered questions ranging from insights into college life to her hopes for her personal brand.
Franklin opened up about her decision to turn pro, which she announced in March. She believes it will be a transition in learning how to balance everything as she begins her professional career, and said that in order to stay grounded she often refers to a metaphor of a water well, and making she does things “that fill her up.”
The 20-year-old said that her two years as a student-athlete at Cal-Berkeley went by too fast, but she is looking forward to starting her professional career. Even with training and meets, she still finds time for fun, as she shared that she will be spending time with best friend and mom in Paris for vacation this summer.
Franklin said she hasn’t signed with any companies yet for endorsements, but shared the importance of being represented by someone who was going to stand for her and the values that she represents. She expressed the importance of being authentic when in the public spotlight.
Franklin was also asked about the sexualization of young female athletes and her thoughts on that trend.
“I just turned 20 years old,” said Franklin, who currently lives in Colorado. “I am very young and I have no intentions of coming off like that. And I really don’t want to because that’s not who I am and that’s not what I am about.
“Other athletes may feel differently and that’s OK. That’s the way they want to be portrayed. Just because mine is different doesn’t make it any more wrong or any more right. But I think the important thing is having that constant support group around me that will help me make the best decisions for me.”
The swimmer also spoke about her approach to being conscientious on social media. She credited her coach at Cal for holding her and her teammates to high standards outside of the pool to make sure they are being professional online.
Franklin also gave the room filled with many members of sports media her take on how journalists and athletes can have strong relationships. The answer, she said, is simple.
“Honestly, for me the thing that makes doing interviews the easiest is when whoever is talking to me has done their research and has background knowledge,” Franklin said. “I think the most awkward interviewers were when the person didn’t really know what they were getting into or they didn’t know anything about me.”