During the 200-meter women’s backstroke final at the 2012 Summer Olympics, always-excitable NBC swimming analyst Rowdy Gaines couldn’t help himself when talking about Missy Franklin as she was in the process of winning gold and shattering a world record in the event.
“That’s the future of USA Swimming right there,” he said. “You’re looking at it.”
Gaines is often prone to hyperbole, but in a meet with Katie Ledecky and tons of other young talent, he reserved his highest praise for Franklin. And why wouldn’t he? Franklin won five medals in London, four of them gold, and set two world records in the process. She was 17, a bubbly young teenager who cried when she got to see her parents after races and smiled from ear to ear with her trademark pearls.
Franklin became a superstar in London, the latest in a long line of Olympians who take the world by storm. The Olympics have a habit of drawing us in, making us fully invested in the lives and success of athletes from every corner of the country who most people have never heard of prior to those two weeks. For that time, we as fans completely immerse ourselves in their story and in their success, ultimately filing away their names for an encore performance in four years.