What could be more impressive for a teenager than winning at gold medal and a silver medal in one night – after winning a gold medal in a 400 meter relay race two days earlier? One even more impressive feat is to achieve all these distinctions and then dazzle the world media at a press conference an hour afterwards. That high performance the evening of July 30 at Barcelona 2013 has become part of Missy Franklin’s routine. A global audience saw how the talented teen is building on her career as a swimming world champion and Olympic medalist. Franklin, who celebrated her eighteenth birthday in May, earned five medals at the London 2012 Olympics.
Missy Franklin has already set two world records and also experienced the inspiration of another teammate, Katie Ledecky, when Ledecky set another world record in the endurance event 1,500 meter freestyle last night. Ledecky is only sixteen years old, and poised to follow Franklin’s course. Franklin radiated her enthusiasm in the press conference following this impressive evening for the stars of USA Swimming, who earned three gold medals, two silver medals and a bronze medal. She transferred her team spirit to the audience with spontaneous joy, cheering “Team USA had an incredible night. I can go on for hours about how proud we are of our team.”
Franklin’s cheer is a good reminder that USA Swimming has accomplished so much as a team that recognizing its many achievements has become an endurance sport of sorts. The strong organization that has supported the exceptional achievements of teen athletes like Franklin and Ledecky has invested in an exceptional nationwide network of swimming education programs and training camps. These do much more than train talented young swimmers. They build successful support organizations that train youth to manage every aspect of a swimming competition with ease.
Participants in USA Swimming development organizations master team skills like logistics, budgeting, time management, sports nutrition, maintaining medical records, group instruction, equipment sourcing, and community relations. USA Swimming’s management education programs tour the U.S.A. to give every region the opportunity to develop the full potential of swim club managers as well as swim club athletes. Some of the team managers are teens themselves. And the organization has sprinted past a decade of frequent budget cuts for school sports education programs with successful support of private after-school training programs that optimize the use of local facilities.
When the most successful athletes join the elite team of USA Swimming itself, they benefit from additional training in public relations that has earned them worldwide popularity as sports ambassadors. Franklin and her teammates benefitted from the experience and model demeanor of USA Swimming Public Relations Director Karen Linhart. In six years, Linhart has helped elevate USA Swimming to a global brand that has become synonymous with success.
Part of the USA Swimming success formula has been to cultivate the leadership and public speaking skills that help make talented teens “sports ambassadors.” Missy Franklin has become so successful that the local newspaper in Barcelona, “El Mundo,” hailed her as swimming’s “Queen.” That has actually also become part of Franklin’s routine. As you can see from this photo, she radiated a royal presence after receiving her 400 meter relay medal from Prince Albert II of Monaco, Vice President of the International Olympic Committee.
The continued success of USA Swimming is also a tribute to the motivational speaking career of last night’s third USA Swimming gold medal winner, Matt Grevers. Grevers won the men’s 100 meter backstroke in less than a minute and went on to share his inspirational message with the world media in less than a minute. Grevers’ message has not just inspired athletes, it has also inspired everyone who aims for success: “You can do anything if you believe in yourself!”