As she grew up, she grew tall, developing an ideal swimmer’s physique at 6 feet 1 inch tall with a 6-foot-4-inch wingspan and a women’s 13 shoe size, which her parents fondly call “built-in flippers.” At just 17 years old, not yet a senior in high school, Franklin stormed the world stage at the London 2012 Olympic Games, winning four gold medals and a bronze medal while sweeping the backstroke events. She holds the world record in the 200m backstroke, shares the world record for the 4x100m medley relay, and holds the American record in the 100m and 200m backstroke.
In 2012, Franklin accepted an athletic scholarship at the University of California, Berkeley and continued to refuse any prize money and endorsements in order to maintain amateur status and compete at a college level. She became a four-time individual NCAA champion during her years at Cal and helped the team earn the 2015 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Team Championship. Franklin has won 15 gold medals in international competition, and with 11 first-place finishes in the FINA Long Course World Championships alone, she holds more gold medals than any woman in the event’s history.
Stardom came before,during and after the London 2012 Olympic Games when she joined that U.S. Olympic Swimming Team in a smile-inducing lip-sync video that went viral just before the Olympic Games. Her dance moves also proved useful in Visa’s recent global campaign in which Franklin shimmies in the passenger seat in a mock Team Visa carpool to Rio. Franklin joined Team Visa, a group of world-class Olympic and Paralympic Games athletes who embody Visa’s values of acceptance, partnership and innovation, this past March. Through the Team Visa program, Visa has supported more than 1,000 Olympic and Paralympic Games hopefuls by providing them with financial and marketing support in the run up to and during the Olympic Games.
Just before competing in the Rio 2016 Olympic Trials the now 21-year-old Franklin tweeted: “I love what I do. When I think I have nothing left, this sport forces me to dig deeper and find something I never even knew was there.”
Theresa Gonzalez is a senior writer for Visa and the author of two Chronicle Books titles. She lives in San Francisco. Follow her on Twitter @theresagonzalez.
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