June 4 (Reuters) - The next time Olympic gold medallist Missy Franklin swims competitively it will not be for records or glory or country, but simply because she wants to.
The 22-year-old U.S. National Team member, on the mend after surgeries to her shoulders earlier this year, is recuperating with workouts inside and outside the pool.
“When I return competitively it’s going to be for me and no one else,” the five times gold medallist told Reuters recently while supporting USA Swimming’s “Make a Splash” foundation, which teaches children to swim.
“It’s hard when you get to a certain level because other people start putting their goals and aspirations on you. But I have an incredible situation right now, and when it’s time I’ll sit down and go over what I want to accomplish and what it’s going to take.”
Franklin burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old at the 2012 Olympics in London where she won five medals, four of them gold, and swept the women’s backstroke events.
Success grew her celebrity even as she opted to attend the University of California at Berkeley before turning professional.
It also highlighted her disappointment in 2016 when she failed to medal in an individual event at the Rio Games but did claim a gold in the 4x200 meters freestyle relay.
“It was very disappointing for me,” Franklin said. “At the end of the day it’s not like I could’ve done anything different. I trained as hard as I could and made more sacrifices than I ever had and it just didn’t go my way. That’s sports.”
In March, she announced that she had separate surgeries on her shoulders due to bursitis and would be taking a break.
Franklin is back in the pool training but does not seem to have a finish line. She has not targeted a return date and is not fretting over faster times. For once, Franklin seems to be swimming at her own pace.
“It’s been great going to practice, not to train for an event, but just because I want to be there,” Franklin said. “That’s something really special that I haven’t experienced in quite a while.”
Her break has allowed her to prioritize her charity work - including “Make a Splash” – and most importantly, herself.
“Twenty-two is an age when you’re really just trying to figure out who you are and what you want to do with your life,” Franklin said. “I’ll always love swimming but what it means changes with you as you grow.” (Editing by Gene Cherry)