On Oct. 20, swimming phenom Missy Franklin shook the collegiate swimming world by committing to Cal.
On Wednesday morning, Franklin set her commitment in stone as she signed the National Letter of Intent to join the Cal women’s swimming team next fall.
This summer in the London Olympics, Franklin shot into the national spotlight by nabbing four gold medals. The 17-year old from Aurora, Colo. chose to come to Cal ahead of swimming powerhouses USC and Georgia largely due to the Berkeley connection she built during the Olympics. She will be joining U.S. national swimming teammates Caitlin Leverenz and Rachel Bootsma and coach Teri McKeever.
“I was always admiring (McKeever’s) coaching style,” Franklin said in a video interview. “I always wanted to be a part of that group, and I was always wanted to be coached by Teri.”
When Franklin arrives at Berkeley next fall, she will be joined by an exceptional recruiting class McKeever has put together yet again. Top-15 recruits Celina Li, Kristen Vredeveld and Farida Osman also signed today to join McKeever’s squad, adding more talent to the already back-to-back NCAA champions.
“It was about backing up the freshman class with another strong class,” McKeever said in a phone interview. “When you can string some great classes, you can do some amazing things.”
After an eye-opening performance in the Olympics, Franklin’s recruiting journey has been closely followed by various sports media outlets around the country. In Labor Day weekend, Franklin was spotted in the UC Berkeley campus with the senior Leverenz showing her around.
Franklin, who turned down the opportunity to go professional straight out of Regis Jesuit High School, will only stay with the Cal women’s swimming team for the first two years before training for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. McKeever agreed to it during the recruiting process and was comfortable letting Franklin leave the team after the 2015 NCAA Championships.
McKeever understands the opportunity cost of Franklin choosing to come to Cal instead of going professional. But she believes that the benefits of college education will benefit the teenage superstar long-term.
“I think if she identifies herself with the university, gets a degree and broadens her 17-year old mind, she’ll be even more marketable,” McKeever said.
Contact Seung Y. Lee at [email protected]
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