At the young age of 23-years-old, Olympian Missy Franklin is ready to hang up her swimsuit.
As sports fans know, Franklin has enjoyed an amazing career in swimming, earning four gold medals at the London games. At the time, she was only 17 years old — and became the first American woman to ever win four golds in one Olympic session in any sport, according to TMZ.
Today, the swimmer shared an emotional post on ESPN, letting her fans and followers know that she would be retiring after suffering from shoulder injuries that have plagued her for quite some time now. To start the letter to her fans, Franklin confessed that she had tears in her eyes — but a full heart.
“It’s hard to know where to begin, but I feel confident and fulfilled in how it will end, and that’s all I could ever ask for.”
The 23-year-old went on to say that swimming was always her first true love, as it gave her a sense of “freedom, playfulness and joy.” With swimming, Missy says that she could let loose and fully be herself — and it was also the first place that she made friends, met mentors, and got into a competitive mindset.
In the letter, she also described all of the highs that she experienced during competitions, and the feeling that she had during her first Olympic trials. But at the end of the day, she says that she enjoyed it so much because she had a lot of fun doing it.
“The first 18 years of my career were as picture perfect as it can get. The equation couldn’t have made more sense: you work hard, you have a positive attitude, you show up every day and give your best, and you get faster. That’s how it worked for me. I worked harder, I trained harder and I swam faster, year after year after year.”
Following the Olympics in London, she went to University of California, Berkeley where she swam on their team. In 2016, she began training for the 2016 Olympics — but she was plagued by shoulder pain, depression, anxiety, and insomnia. She ended up making it through the Olympics in Rio, despite the pain, and she said that was the “greatest accomplishment” of her career.
Then, she took the summer off — and reconnected with the man who she will soon call her husband — before heading to Athens, Georgia. There she would train with Jack Bauerle at the University of Georgia. Unfortunately, her shoulder issues continued to plague her. She says that she came to the realization that her career in swimming was over.
“I began to realize that my greatest dream in life, more so than Olympic gold, has always been becoming a mom. Swimming had been such a huge part of my life for as long as I could remember, but it was not my entire life,” she writes. “I still have dreams, goals, aspirations and intentions I plan on living out every day of my life. I will never be able to express in words how grateful I am for swimming — for the places it has taken me, the lessons it has taught me and, most importantly, the people it has brought into my life.”
To end the touching retirement post, Missy thanked everyone that had an impact in her life — both personally and professionally — and said that she hopes to be able to keep swimming in her life forever, perhaps even coaching or mentoring down the road.