LONDON – Missy Franklin is dedicating all her Olympic races to her home state of Colorado.
The 17-year-old swimmer said Thursday she was affected by the movie theater shootings in the Denver suburb of Aurora, where she attends high school and trains.
Every single race Im going to have that Colorado incident back on my mind, she said. Its such a terrible thing, and Im so shaken by it. Theyre in my thoughts this entire process.
Franklin, who lives in Centennial, Colo., said she and her parents dont know any of the 12 shooting victims or the 58 others who were injured.
But Aurora and Colorado in general is such a close state that when something like that happens were all affected by it, no matter who it is, she said, adding that she had never been to the theater where the shootings took place. Its hitting very close to home.
Franklin and the rest of the U.S. swimming team was training in France when she first heard about the shootings through Twitter.
Franklin will have to clear her mind of the tragedy while she competes in seven events at her first Olympics. She opens her program Saturday, when shes expected to swim a leg of the 400-meter freestyle relay on opening night at the Aquatics Centre.
No less an expert than 14-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps said Franklins biggest challenge will be harnessing her boundless energy over the eight-day meet, but Franklin figures last months ultra-competitive U.S. trials gave her valuable experience.
I know that Ive done this many events before and Im ready to add in relays, but relays are my favorite part and I think those are going to give me energy, she said. I know that its going to be tough, but like Michael said, its all mental and I think that Im prepared to do it.
Phelps even told Franklin to ask, phone or text him if she needs anything.
She hasnt, he said. I offered.
Franklin has gotten most of her advice from others on the womens team, but one thing she wants to ask about is college. Phelps attended Michigan for one year but didnt swim for the Wolverines.
I love getting opinions from everyone, she said. Its just great to have all that knowledge behind you.