Bolshevik Wins Gold for US

Here’s how WSJ described Missy Franklin, who just won a gold in the 100-meter backstroke only 11 minutes after swimming a qualifier for the 200-meter freestyle, this morning.

Missy Franklin, Olympic Radical


She’s the latest incarnation of Mary Lou Retton, Mia Hamm and Michelle Kwan.

But when it comes to the Olympics and the world of elite swimming in 2012, that first impression is a deception. Franklin, the 6-foot-1, soon-to-be high-school senior from Centennial, Colo., isn’t just an athlete who questions the conventional doctrine of Olympic stardom: She rejects it entirely. Missy Franklin, America’s new love, is a Bolshevik in swim goggles.


One standout is Franklin’s devotion to remaining an amateur. Before these Games, she has resisted all temptation to cash in on her talent and swim professionally. “I really, really want to swim in college,” she told the Journal earlier this year. She has turned down roughly $100,000 in prize money and several multiples of that in endorsements. [my emphasis]

It is now radical for a young woman to forgo Wheaties money so she can get a free college education and continue living a relatively normal young adulthood. A 17-year old passing up instant cash is a Bolshevik.

Remarkably, Missy Franklin somehow managed to find some kind of motivation to win gold for something other than money.

Imagine that: a young American striving for personal excellence and her country, rather than money? We’re definitely going to have to purge the Olympic program after this scandal.

Update: I realize now having watched the qualifier it was in freestyle, not backstroke.

18 replies
  1. bmaz says:

    Saw a great interview with her by Jeremy Schapp on ESPN this morning. It appeared to have been done in her home in Colorado before the start of the games. She is really something. Comfortable with herself and great sense of humor. Special kid.

  2. marksb says:

    A couple of months ago Missy Franklin was just another age-group teenage swimmer. There are 300,000 age-group swimmer members of USA Swimming, throughout our country. Any given weekend there are swim meets with kids from 5 to 18(+) swimming in sanctioned races–I manage six of these meets a year. If a swimmer is good enough they can earn the chance to swim in college, and if they swim well enough in college they *might* get the opportunity to go to Trials and maybe, just maybe, qualify for a slot on the Olympic team.

    This is not a thing you plan, especially if you’re in high school. This is a far-off goal of every teenage swimmer. Out of 300,000 swimmers, a couple of dozen go to the Olympics!

    Point is, Missy was another kid swimming in her local meets, except she got fast enough to qualify to swim Trials and then landed several slots on the team. Three months ago she had no idea; she was thinking about where to go to college and who she wanted to go to prom with…and how to get to the pool at 6am six days a week for workouts.

    Now she’s living every swimmer’s dream and they are all projecting themselves on her success. My 13 yr-old daughter is tuning in for her every race–suddenly Missy is more important than Ryan Lochte, a huge jump for a teenage girl!

    The WSJ not only pushes some weird-assed political agenda with this story, they show a complete lack of research into the very simple, yet widely understood, world of swimming. Idiots!


    -mark (member of USA Swimming, former swimmer, two daughters who swim, wife who swims Masters, and on the BOD of the local swim club)

  3. marksb says:

    BTW, one of the main questions everyone in the swim community wants to know is not “when will she turn pro” but “what college will she commit to”. I hear she’s been in contact with every Div 1 swimming school: Stanford, Cal, Florida, Auburn, UT, Michigan, USC; all the usual NCAA leaders. Missy guarantees NCAA points from her freshman year–you can build a team around her, “Missy Franklin is going here? Wow”–not to mention the fundraising. And you have to go to NCAA meets to see how close college team members are to each other, as close as family.

    Again, it show that the WSJ author is completely lost in the weeds.

  4. MadDog says:

    @marksb: I consider your comments as a superb replacement for the WSJ’s trash.

    Makes one want to cheer her on, and that is saying something about this now reformed and tee-totaling former sports addict.

  5. marksb says:

    @MadDog: Ah, swimming is a great sport for a sober/reformed sports nut. Just for grins, see if there’s a Masters team near you and drop by to watch a workout. They often have daily workouts, sometimes both morning (6am) and afternoon (5pm or so). Anyone can swim, even if you aren’t very good, know one stroke, or can’t see the bathroom scale from your vantage point. There’s a coach who will set a workout for the team, but will give you a set that’s your speed. The cool thing about a Masters team is that you step into a community of people who have two things in common: they’re aging faster than they’d like, and they enjoy swimming. We’ve got slow and fast: former college swimmers, an ex-gold medalist from 1960, a number of serious triathletes ranging from early 20’s to deep in their 60’s, some folks that never swam before joining, a couple who started after his heart attack, and so on. Anyone can join and swim.

  6. MadDog says:

    @marksb: I go to my local YMCA daily for a morning workout. They have both indoor and outdoor pools, but I’ve not yet partaken. I learned to swim when I was 5 or so, and used to hit the pool a lot when I was a teenager. Maybe now I’ll put it back on my “To Do” list.

  7. MadDog says:

    @LM Lewis: This is de rigueur for the WSJ as the capitalist stooge mouthpiece of the Repug party. If you ain’t in it for the money, you must be a communist.

  8. bmaz says:

    @marksb: If CU Boulder was coordinated and smart, an enduring and important program and facilities would be built, and built around her and what she could bring in four years, to Boulder.

    That is what is both right, and wrong, about modern college athletics.

  9. emptywheel says:

    @marksb: Yeah, I was wondering if UM was in the mix. They’ve got a great pool–and that’s where Phelps was slumming before 2008.

  10. marksb says:

    @bmaz: The number of universities that are still willing to support a swim team is getting smaller every year. And example is Arizona State’s swimming program was cut in 2008 and only survived on a self-funded development program (we’ve got a club member now swimming for them.)

  11. posaune says:

    Well, her parents are Canadians (dual citizenships, I think). No wonder she’s a Bolshie — that’s the place they have the public option. Or, maybe it’s those left wing Jesuits at Regis High.

  12. bmaz says:

    @marksb: I haven’t followed ASU swimming that closely for a long time, but they used to have one of the better programs around. I remember when they built their new aquatics center; plans were let when I was graduating undergraduate and it had just opened when I got back for law school in 1982. Wow was it beautiful. It is a shame they defunded the teams, especially the women. They had the history and they had the facilities. If ASU cannot maintain a program, it is a pretty sad comment, considering the weather here and that the sport can be done outdoors, where it was intended, year round. Ugh.

  13. tjallen says:

    Maybe the WSJ is attacking not just Missy but the entire NCAA concept of the college amateur athlete as Bolshevik. Surely there are many problems with the antiquated, hypocritical, full-of-holes NCAA policy. I’m not sure labeling it Bolshevik advances the discussion philosophically, as the term primarily seems to be used derogatorily by the WSJ.

  14. bmaz says:

    @marksb: I had not realized ASU had cut swimming until your comment. It is really sad, like I said above, I remembered them being a very good program, so it was a little startling to hear. So, I went back and checked. Yep, pretty good program. It looks like they have reinstated the program now, but it is pretty barebones. Shame, as I said, their facility, the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center, is still gorgeous. From Wiki:

    The Mona Plummer Aquatic Center is the aquatic center used by the Arizona State University Sun Devil swim team. It opened in 1981, costing four million dollars to build, and is named after Mona Plummer, a national championship winning coach who died in 1979.

    The complex consists of three pools, including an Olympic-size competition pool, a diving tower, and seating for 2,000. It is located on the ASU campus in Tempe, Arizona. The facility hosted the 1989, 1991, 1993 and 1998 Pac-10 Diving Championships, as well as the 1981, 1991, and 1999 NCAA Zone E Diving Championships. The venue is regarded as one of the best collegiate aquatic centers in the nation.

    Mona Plummer was the women’s coach when I was a kid, all the way through the time I graduated, and apparently won eight national championships.

    Here are photos of the center, it is right by Sun Devil Stadium in the buttes of north Tempe. Unbelievable that they killed the swimming program in 2008. It appears that it was an overnight hit job that nobody saw coming. Jeebus, what a mess. Thanks for pointing it out to me.

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