Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin on success, failure, and support

Champion swimmer Missy Franklin is a five-time Olympic gold medalist at age 22.

Swimming since she was 5 years old, Franklin said the sport is her greatest passion.

“It’s been an incredible journey,” she said in an interview with NTDTV. “I feel incredibly blessed to do something that I love every single day.”

Franklin won five medals at the London 2012 Olympics, four of them gold. She won another gold medal at the Rio games last year.

What makes her such an outstanding athlete?

“I think it’s just my passion for the sport. I think no matter what you do in your life, if you’re passionate about it, then you’re going to work hard at it, and you’re going to want to succeed at it, so for me that’s swimming,” said the Canadian-American swimmer. “I would just encourage people to find what they love, find what they’re passionate about, then follow it with all their heart.”

Behind any success is lots of hard work. But Franklin said it’s important to push forward.

“When you’re an elite athlete, it’s just constant, the demand on you,” she said. “It gets so tiring and it’s on those days when I wake up and I don’t want to get out of bed at 5 in the morning, I don’t want to get into a freezing cold pool, I just want to want to stay in bed because it just feels so good. And those are the days I know are going to make a difference on me accomplishing my dreams or not, so that for me is huge.”

Franklin says it’s important to have a support system to help you through the hard times and cheer you on.

“I have an incredible family, incredible friends, my teammates, my coaches, all of them are right by my side throughout the entire process. When I have them with me every single day, encouraging me and motivating me, and pushing me through, that is the best energy that I could ever ask for,” she said. “It’s because of them, really, that I am where I am today.”

Sometimes, it’s okay to fail, as long as you try.

“It’s a natural part of sport, and a natural part of life. No one is ever going to succeed at 100 percent of everything that they do. And for me, sport has definitely told me that it’s okay to fail, and you often learn more from your failures than you do from your successes,” said Franklin. “I really encourage people to try and face that fear of failure and just take it head on.”

But once you acknowledge and learn from failures, it’s important to know when to move on. Franklin said she always reflects on her failures to see what could have been done better, but then she looks forward.

“I’m a firm believer that it’s also important to let it go, and to really move past that because if you’re so concentrated on your failures, and everything that you’ve done wrong, it’s going to be really hard to have that optimistic attitude and to have confidence in yourself, and believe in yourself. So learn from your failures, but then move on from them, and continue to try to be the best that you can be,” she said.

While she’s not competing, Franklin is championing some good causes.

She is encouraging children to learn swimming at a young age through free programs like Safe Splash, to prevent risk of drowning.

The athlete said she hopes to compete in 2020 Tokyo Games.

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