In sport, there can be a certain anguish that grips to those deemed child sensations, the sense of a whole life stretching ahead for which the same heights will never be reached again. Fans who want to watch the live competition of Olympic Swimming can get Olympic Swimming Tickets online.
But when American Swimmer Missy Franklin fell up her swimsuit last year aged 23, she walked away with a fresh attitude on life. An unbearable shoulder injury forced her away from the water, but Franklin was determined to regain her sense of self, “to be a great person and not just a great athlete”.
Speaking with a news reporter, Franklin describes how she went from enjoying every moment in the pool to being dogged with concern in the build-up to the 2016 Rio Games. “Coming up to Rio was one of the hardest times in my life because I never realized how much of my identity was enclosed in my swimming and success,”. “I had only ever known success in the sport, ever since I was 15, I had set these goals for myself and I would go out and achieve them.
“Everything had been so much fun and so exciting in London, I was living my dream. Then all of a sudden that was so dramatically and severely flipped on its back. I had realized how much of my self-worth I had placed in my results. I had to understand who I am as a person has nothing to do with a time or a position I am able to achieve in a pool.”
Yearning for a more normal life shone through in her choices even before retirement, enrolling at the University of California at Berkeley rather than opting to turn pro after the London Olympics. When Franklin announced her retirement, her next priority was to become a wife and mother. The marriage came first when she tied the knot with former collegiate swimmer Hayes Johnson last week. Five of her closest friends from Berkeley were bridesmaids at the wedding. It is not fashionable to say you want to be a wife and mother.
“To me, being a mom is the greatest job in the world and I have known for a long time that is one of my greatest callings. People have different religions and faiths and different priorities. I feel very comfortable saying my priority is being a wife and a mom, while for someone else their priority might be their career.
“There is so much pressure on girls to be good at different things, and that goes back to where your values lie and realizing it is not our job to be great at everything and we can’t put that pressure on ourselves. As long as we are doing enough to be the best version of ourselves, that is what matters, it is not about being perfect.”
Retirement was not an easy decision to make, but the thought of not being able to play with any children she may have in the future was one of the factors behind her decision, such was the extent of her shoulder pain. Her husband was a strength in his support.
She is highly conscious that many will not share her devotion but hopes that the message of “shining your light”. “Shining your light in my mind comes back to God, sharing his love. If the religious aspect does not resonate with everybody, you can still be your own unique person and give that kindness and love out and there is so much power in that.”
Such is her interest in theology, she is completing a degree in the subject. “One thing that really drew me to studying religion is that you take classes in every major religion. I have learned so much about Buddhism, Islam, Judaism,”.
“To have that opportunity to learn about these other faiths has been beautiful because I didn’t realize how I held stereotypical beliefs about other religions until I truly started to learn about them. I find it has helped me to understand other people.”
“I think there is a delusion that in order to be competitive, you need to be tough and strong and have smack talk with the people you are competing with, but in my experiences, it is the opposite. You can be competitive and tough, but also kind and loving. I was consistently striving to be the best athlete you can be in the pool every day, but to become a great person is infinitely more important and I use my mindset from swimming to do that.”
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