Five-time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin of Centennial is retiring from competitive swimming at age 23 due to a chronic shoulder injury.
“Technically speaking, my medical diagnosis is severe chronic tendonitis of both the rotator cuff and the bicep tendon,” Franklin said in a retirement letter published on ESPN.com. “After the failure of my last round of shots, I had only one other option: another surgery and even that was a long shot. When I heard the word ‘surgery,’ I immediately broke down because I already knew my answer: no. I've been in too much pain, for too long.”
In addition to her injury, Franklin told CPR News in a September interview that she struggled with depression and the triumphs and disappointments of Olympic swimming. She was the “golden girl” of the 2012 London Olympics, where she broke record after record. At the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Franklin lost every one of her individual races.
“I had based my identity completely into the sport of swimming,” Franklin said on Colorado Matters. “When the winning stopped it’s, ‘Oh my gosh, what else do I have to offer?’ Like, I am nothing if not swimming, if not successful.”
Franklin wrote she is not willing to endure more pain to train for a “comeback.” Instead, she wants to focus on other goals, like becoming a mom.
“Swimming had been such a huge part of my life for as long as I could remember, but it was not my entire life,” Franklin said in the letter. “I still have dreams, goals, aspirations and intentions I plan on living out every day of my life. I will never be able to express in words how grateful I am for swimming — for the places it has taken me, the lessons it has taught me and, most importantly, the people it has brought into my life.”