5-time Olympic swimming gold medalist Missy Franklin of Colorado retires at 23


Laureus Ambassador Missy Franklin attends the 2017 Laureus World Sports Awards at the Salle des Etoiles,Sporting Monte Carlo on February 14, 2017 in Monaco, Monaco. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Laureus)

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AURORA, Colo. — Missy Franklin, a five-time Olympic gold medalist from Colorado, announced her retirement from competitive swimming on Wednesday in a letter published on ESPN.com.

Franklin, 23, was also a two-time FINA World Swimmer of the Year.

“It took me a long time to say the words, ‘I am retiring,’” she wrote. “A long, long time. But now I’m ready.”

Franklin, then 17, won four gold medals during the 2012 Olympics in London while she was a student at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora. She grew up in Centennial.

But chronic shoulder pain she has battled since 2015 forced her to retire.

“I’m ready to not be in pain every day. I’m ready to become a wife, one day a mother,” she wrote. “I’m ready to continue growing each and every day to be the best person and role model I can be. I’m ready for the rest of my life.”

Franklin became the first American woman to win four gold medals in a single Olympics in any sport in 2012. She won six gold medals at the 2013 World Aquatics Championships.

She then attended the University of California Berkeley and was part of the team that won the 2015 NCAA championship.

She turned professional before the 2016 Rio Olympics and returned to Colorado to swim for her youth coach, Todd Schmitz.

But months before the Olympics, she experienced “intense” shoulder pain. She later revealed she was also battling depression, insomnia and anxiety.

At Rio, she failed to qualify for the finals in the two individual events she had qualified for. She won a gold medal by swimming in the preliminary heat of the 4×200-meter freestyle relay.

“Looking back, surviving those eight days in Rio was the greatest accomplishment of my career,” Franklin wrote. “I was able to stay true to who I was as much in failure and disappointment as I had in winning and being the best in the world.”

Franklin underwent surgery on both of her shoulders in early 2017. She enrolled at the University of Georgia but was never able to regain her form from the 2012 Olympics.

She retires as the current world record holder in the 200-meter backstroke and finished with 27 medals in international competition.

“This is by no means the end,” Franklin wrote. “Rather I choose to look at this as a new beginning. Swimming has been, and always will be, a big part of my life and I absolutely plan to stay involved in what I feel is the best sport in the world, just in a different way.”

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