Olympic gold medal swimmer Missy Franklin is weighing whether to compete in her final high school season in Colorado, with a decision expected to come soon.
Franklin, 17, is a senior at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colo. She also won four swimming gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, and some critics say it would be unfair for her to compete with high school athletes.
Missy said she understands that argument, but the 17-year-old, who was known as “The Missle” during the 2012 Games, has received support from those who say she should swim for Regis Jesuit.
“If I had anyone who swims high school come up to me and tell me they don’t want me to swim, I would absolutely not swim,” Franklin said Monday, according to the Associated Press. “But everyone who I’ve talked to has been so supportive of it. So it’s so hard when I have so many people that are really wanting me to do it and so supportive, and I have other people who are saying it’s not fair. ‘Why would you do this to other girls?’ And I feel so bad thinking that they would think that.”
Missy said she hasn’t come to a decision yet, but she’s expected to make one soon since the Colorado high school swimming season has already begun.
Speaking about decision, Missy told the AP, ““I’ve had to make a lot of them, and to be honest I’m kind of tired of them, and I don’t want to make them anymore. But I think this is my last big decision for a while.”
Missy said her parents are worried about her missing out on her high school senior experience. She’s had thoughts about turning pro, which would make her ineligible to compete in both high school and college.
“The hardest part for me is I really have no gut feeling on this,” Franklin told the AP. “In my past big decisions, I’ve had a gut feeling. Now it’s hard because I’m really relying on other people’s opinions, and there’s so many different opinions that I have no idea.”
After she makes her decision, she’ll next have to decide whether to turn pro or attend the University of California-Berkeley.
Missy had been planning on enrolling at Cal for two years and then turning pro, where she can earn a living both from competition and endorsements.
She’s already seen the power of endorsements and celebrity, as Missy was one of the stars of the U.S. Olympic team with her four gold medals. She hit the late night talk show circuit and even caught the eye of pop star Justin Bieber after her Olympic run.
Tim Warsinskey, sports columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, urged Missy to opt for college – but not because of her swimming ability.
“Athletically, there is no reason for her to swim at Cal. But the fact that she has put everything else aside for now to experience and hopefully benefit from college says much about what that experience is worth, and why it is such a worthwhile goal for student-athletes,” Warsinskey wrote. “To be clear, a tiny percentage of high school athletes actually will wear a college uniform. For those who strive toward that goal, Franklin is a reminder that when they get there, competing isn't the reason to be there.”