Team USA swimmer Missy Franklin visited Atlanta last week to greet winners of the Minute Maid #doingood promotion, which invited fans of the brand to share how a parent in their life is #doingood. Franklin – who’s featured alongside her parents in a Minute Maid tearjerker – selected five winners to join her for a private breakfast. We caught up with the affable 21-year-old athlete the next morning for a conversation about the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, her life inside and outside the pool, and what the Minute Maid campaign means to her family.

You just got back from Rio de Janeiro a few weeks ago. How was it?

Incredible! I was really grateful to be a part of another amazing Olympics. Rio did such a great job putting on the Games. The village, competition venue and training facility were all beautiful. And the Brazilian people totally blew me way… they were so loving and so excited to host. Their energy was contagious.

How would you compare the Rio Games to London 2012, where you made your Olympic debut?

London was the perfect Olympics for me to start on the scene. Everyone there speaks English, and everything about it was easy and seamless. Rio was seamless, too, thanks to all the hard work that went into staging these Games. But personally, it was really different this time around. I had more experience, and more international travel and competition under my belt. I was only 17 in London, so there was no pressure. I was just enjoying it. This time, I had experienced what it was like to be a big medal contributor to Team USA and to give so much to my teammates through my performance in the pool… that’s the best feeling in the word. I wanted to do it again, but I think I probably put too much pressure on myself. So the experience was not as enjoyable. To underperform and not deliver the results you know you’re capable of is about the worst feeling in the world after four years of hard work.

Missy Franklin Breakfast

Will you convert your disappointment into motivation?

It’s a lot of heartbreak. Before I get to the motivation part, I have to go through the healing and make sure I’m still doing this for the right reasons and getting back to the fun aspects of the sport. Because I’m at my best when I’m having fun. I think I lost a lot of that this year. Once I get there, I think that motivation will come back.

Is there such thing as an off-season for you?

This is it! Right now, just after our quadrennial, is the longest break athletes will take. I’ll be getting back in the water soon. I will have taken a six-week break, which is the longest I’ve ever taken in my life. It’s been a really good, much-needed break. But I’m definitely antsy to get back in the pool!

So what’s next for you? Are you back in school?

I’m taking online classes right now, which gives me chance to take a little breather after Rio instead of going back. I’ll start up classes on campus at (UC) Berkeley this spring. And I can’t wait!

When you’re training, what does your average day look like?

We’ll swim twice a day and have either a weights or dry land session. I’ll get up at 5 a.m., make myself breakfast and go swim from 6 to 8, then have one or two classes. I’ll then have a little time to rest and eat lunch before a weights session from 1 to 2 and a second swim practice from 2 to 4. I’ll usually finish my day with another class. Then I’ll go home, make dinner, do my homework, go to bed and repeat! It’s a grind, but I love it. Going to bed so exhausted and knowing you’ve earned that exhaustion is a great feeling.

Missy Franklin Breakfast

What do you like to do outside the pool?

Having time off has enabled me to try fun things I’m not used to. I started doing bar classes, and I love them! It’s essentially a ballet class… you use the ballet bar with hand weights. It’s a full-body workout and so different than anything I’ve done before. It focuses on small muscles and small movements to deliver full benefits. I’ve also been doing spin classes and yoga almost every day.

Do swimmers spend time in the water for fun?

We do! Water is something I feel really close to. It brings me a lot of peace and a lot of joy. Even on our days off, we’ll lay out by the pool, hop in and splash around. I’m not about to get in and do a workout on my day off, but I’ll definitely relax around the pool.

'I’m starting to see myself grow into the woman I want to become. I’ve gained more independence and had opportunities to choose for myself the impact I want to have and the difference I want to make. It’s been really special and makes me so excited for the years to come.'


How would you compare the 17-year-old Missy to the 21-year-old Missy?

She’s really similar in a lot of ways. Same values, same foundation. And when you have such a strong foundation, you change and grow, but what truly maters to you stays the same. But I’ve experienced so many new things over the last four years… going to college for two years, new coaching, being a collegiate athlete. I’ve learned so much about being a person and an athlete. I’m starting to see myself grow into the woman I want to become. I’ve gained more independence and had opportunities to choose for myself the impact I want to have and the difference I want to make. It’s been really special and makes me so excited for the years to come.


Speaking of impact, what reaction have you and your parents seen to the Minute Maid #doingood film that debuted in May?

I don’t think any of us could have expected the reaction we’ve gotten and continue to get. The response we’ve seen has knocked us off our feet and means the world to us. There have been a lot of tears! So many people have told us they’ve bawled every time they watched the video. We wanted this campaign to be truly authentic, and that’s exactly how it turned out. It’s so close and dear to our hearts because it’s who we truly are. We’re about letting each other know we’re doing good. And as a daughter, letting my parents know how much they mean to me is so much of who I am.

You’re here in Atlanta to meet the winners of the Minute Maid #doingood “Breakfast with Missy” promotion. What was it like to review the submissions that came in, choose the winners and meet them in person?

It was amazing. We invited people to submit paragraph-long descriptions, photos and videos on how their parents are #doingood and serving as role models in their lives. It was so special to read through these stories and understand how much respect these sons and daughters have for their parents. I felt honored. And the breakfast was such a unique experience to have a room full of people from all over the country who’d never met before and have such a fluid and dynamic conversation. It felt natural… like a breakfast with new friends who inspired one other with their stories. That’s what this campaign is all about, so it was a great way to celebrate something that means so much to my parents and me.

See a few photos from the Minute Maid #doingood breakfast here:

How does the constitution of a champion swimmer differ from other athletes? What does it take to succeed, not only physically but mentally?

It takes a lot of patience in a lot off different ways. We have to work on such small aspects of technique and stroke that often take awhile to see results from. We’re working on little things relentlessly, time and time again, and trusting that the results will come. And of course, with swimming being an Olympic sport, our big shot only comes every four years. So to train for something that’s four years away takes patience and discipline to make the most of your time so that when the fourth year comes around, you’re ready.

'I’m a firm believer that if you focus so much on your long-term goals, you’ll miss opportunities to better yourself that are right in front of you. It’s important to make sure I not only have goals for every month, but for every day and every practice. It’s also a way to keep things new and fresh and make sure I’m getting the most out of all the work I’m putting in.'


So it’s important to balance short-term and long-term goals?

Absolutely. I’m already getting questions about Tokyo! I’m a firm believer that if you focus so much on your long-term goals, you’ll miss opportunities to better yourself that are right in front of you. It’s important to make sure I not only have goals for every month, but for every day and every practice. It’s also a way to keep things new and fresh and make sure I’m getting the most out of all the work I’m putting in.

MIssy Franklin Podium

Do you have any superstitions in the pool?

I’m very superstitious about my hair ties. If I’m doing really well and wearing a certain tie, then I have to keep it in. But if things are not going the way I want, I’ll keep switching ties. And I almost always wear pearl earrings when I race. Oh, and pink goggles. So pink goggles, pearl earrings and lucky hair ties… that’s it!

How do the skills you’ve picked up as an elite athlete and an Olympian benefit you away from the sport, both personally and professionally?

What I’ve learned as a dedicated athlete is transferrable to every aspect of life. That’s why I’m such an advocate for getting kids involved in sports at a young age. Talk about time management, self-discipline and putting hard work in and getting great results out! You also learn so much about being a good teammate, being supportive. There is so much I’ve learned through swimming… including many things I probably won’t realize until later in life. From how to handle myself in a job interview, to showing respect. There’s so much I’ve learned in this sport. I even talk about being a parent one day and how I’ve learned how to manage my time and prioritize what really needs to be done. And I know I’ll continue learning from it, which is the best part. I always say that the day I quit swimming will be when I feel like the sport has taught me all it has to teach me. I’m still learning so much from it every single day, and I’m so grateful for that.