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Monday, December 3, 2012
Updated: December 4, 4:32 PM ET
Missy Franklin reflects on her "insane" year

By Wayne Drehs
ESPN The Magazine

Missy Franklin
Franklin won the gold medal and set a world record in 200 backstroke in London.

This story appears in ESPN The Magazine's Dec. 10 Interview issue. Subscribe today!

WAYNE DREHS: You arrived in London a 17-year-old full of promise and left a five-time Olympic medalist. Does it seem crazy when you think back now?
MISSY FRANKLIN: It seems insane, like I made the whole thing up. When I pull my medals out at the airport, I sort of sit back and realize, I'm taking an Olympic gold medal through security. And it's my Olympic gold medal.

DREHS: Where do you keep them?
FRANKLIN: My trainer wanted to see them. So I was like, "Dad, where are my medals?" He told me he had put them in a safe-deposit box. I'm like, "Were you going to discuss this with me? They're my medals. You need to tell me what you're doing with them." He just smiled. Of course he was right.

DREHS: You get mail by the boxload now. Anybody ask you on a date?
FRANKLIN: One boy sent me flowers and left his number. I called him and said, "Thank you, this is very sweet, but my schedule is quite busy right now."

DREHS: Wait. You called him?
FRANKLIN: He went through all of that trouble to send me flowers ... of course I'm going to call him and thank him!

DREHS: Justin Bieber sent you a care package. Despite having Bieber Fever, you sent it back. Why?
FRANKLIN: It was really sweet of him. But it was considered a form of special treatment that could have jeopardized my amateur status. I've given up way too much and sacrificed too much to keep a Justin Bieber T-shirt and lose it all. So I sent it back.

DREHS: You decided to swim collegiately at Cal, turning down potentially millions in endorsement money. Why?
FRANKLIN: College swimming can help me mature as an athlete. Oh my gosh, I have so much to learn as a swimmer and a person. My underwaters aren't anywhere near where I want them to be. I'm a pretty strong puller, but my kicking is weak. I can't wait to go to Cal next fall, but that means I'll be leaving home. And every time we talk about that my parents and I start crying.

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