And she was late for practice.
On the heels of senior night that honored a colorful and talented group of Regis Jesuit senior swimmers — plus a 201-113 victory over rival Cherry Creek Jan. 15 — Franklin inked her name on swim caps, bags and all other manner of items, posed for pictures and gave out hugs to a swarm of awe-struck young fans before racing off to a club practice.
“What an opportunity for those kids; how often do you get the opportunity to be 3 or 4 feet away from Missy Franklin’s splash?” Raiders coach Nick Frasersmith said.
“That’s what Missy is giving Colorado swimming.”
While Franklin thrilled children and parents with her signing session afterwards, the four-time gold medalist at the Summer Olympics in London also treated them to another strong performance in the pool.
In her second dual meet of the season, Franklin won the 200-yard freestyle and her speciality, the 100 backstroke, and anchored the Raiders’ 400 freestyle relay team.
Franklin is now qualified for six individual events at the Feb. 8-9 Class 5A girls state swim meet, which will close her remarkable chapter of prep swimming.
“I’m so glad she did it this year,” her mother, D.A. Franklin, said.
Despite a very small number of negative feelings about an Olympian swimming in a prep meet — some which were enumerated in a Wall Street Journal article that caused a stir — Franklin chose to swim two dual meets in addition to state, hoping the “pros outweigh the cons.”
She was in the pool with the team against Highlands Ranch a week earlier and then against Cherry Creek, determined to enjoy every moment in and out of the water with her teammates and close friends.
Two days earlier, Franklin was in Beverly Hills, Calif., rubbing shoulders with stars of stage and screen such as Ben Affleck and Leonardo DiCaprio at the Golden Globes.
In two more days, she’ll be competing with fellow Olympians at a USA Swimming Grand Prix event in Austin, Texas, and then it will be on to other high-profile events that have become her norm since she wowed the world in London.
But Franklin never forgets her roots and her bond with Regis Jesuit seniors such as Marielle Renehan, Abby Cutler, Delaney Lanker, Carla Meli and others.
“This group of seniors is so close and tightly knit in every way possible,” Franklin said. “It’s amazing to have the group of friends I do.”
Indeed, other Regis Jesuit seniors were thrilled Franklin decided to join them, as much for what she brings to the team as a person as for her world-class talent.
“It’s always a pleasure to have Missy; she brings her dance moves, her laughs and her jokes and the team wouldn’t be the same without her,” Renehan said after winning two individual events against Cherry Creek.
“She’s a huge part of our team and I couldn’t even imagine Regis swimming without her,” she added.
The reality of the final home meet struck home for Franklin and fellow senior Lindsay Kriz as they waited on the blocks for the last time.
“Before the 400 free relay, me and Missy were like ‘this is our last race swimming in this pool,’ it didn’t hit us until then,” Kriz said.
Once her hand hit the wall for the final time in the pool, Franklin was off to meet her fans.
Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at [email protected] or 303-750-7555