Missy Franklin still shares her signature smile.
“My heart is still broken from Rio but I’m so excited about all that is happening,” Franklin said.
One of those things is an afternoon she spent with kids in a Colorado pool launching a program about water safety.
“We are going to make a difference in a lot of lives,” she said. “We can save a lot of lives.”
Franklin says she believes water safety should not be a privilege reserved for families who can afford lessons.
Safety should be a right for every child in our country. With this program, we are all making steps toward that,” she said.
She talked about a new initiative called “Ripples to Waves” with USA Swimming Foundation Executive Director Debbie Hesse and Matt Lane, CEO of the SafeSplash Swim Schools.
The partnership will give an additional 2,500 free swimming lessons to children in the U.S. and Canada who could not otherwise afford it. It is estimated that 42 million children in the United States don’t know how to swim. It is a reason why drowning is the second leading cause of unintended death for children under age 14.
The partnership is an expansion of the USA Swimming foundation's Make a Splash Initiative that has taught four million children how to swim since 2007.
Hesse says the goal is for 1 million children will receive lessons every year through Ripples to Waves and Make a Splash.
Between the time working with the kids in the water and taking time to answer questions, Missy was sitting at her laptop in a conference room working on a paper. The assignment is due soon for her World Religions class. She is continuing her studies at Cal-Berkeley, where she is majoring in psychology.
Missy says it has been great to settle back into life in California with school and her friends. She says that her struggle in Rio was not a physical one. She says she didn’t have the balance in her life she needed and was not in the place emotionally she needed to be to compete at her best.
Missy says she is focused on the future and excited for the opportunities that are ahead.
“I’m a better person for what I’ve gone through this year,” she said.
She continues to have a perspective about live that goes far beyond swimming.
“I am beyond thrilled to be in the position to take something I love to do and help kids be safe in the water,” she said.
Franklin says it is more important and valuable than any medal.
“There is nothing better than helping others,” Franklin said.
Parents can apply online at safesplash.com starting Nov. 1 with lessons beginning in 2017.