Missy Franklin, 17 and missing her parents on her first Olympic camp at the start of being away from home for a month and more, tells AP today that she's thrilled with "everything" about her experience - even the drawing of blood by anti-doping agents.
Dinner with family and a trip to the movies to watch Finding Nemo, to swim into in the spirit of getting the better of "Brucey" and teammates, served as farewell to home life and hello to Team USA on tour.
Asked to name a favourite thing at the Olympic training camp, Franklin tells AP: "Everything. It has been so much fun just being able to lie in bed at night and realise that I am at an Olympic training camp. It's just the coolest thing ever and getting to know my teammates so much more. And my teammate Kate Ziegler and I had quite the adventure this morning getting our blood drawn, so that was fun. We've been able to go out and have a few dinners out. That's so nice."
Veterans of the team say they are gaining from Franklin's verve as she heads for seven events at London 2012, Natalie Coughlin noting: "There is just a wonder, freshness and naiveté that helps manage all the expectations and all the pressures. You've got to have a lot of fun, and all the young kids on the team are going to do very, very well."
Franklin, in line for the 100 and 200 freestyle, 100 and 200 backstroke and all three relays, says she intends to "explode once I get to the Olympics". Team training is being held in an environment alien to most swimmers: they have sold tickets to more than 1,000 members of the public a day who want to come in an watch the US squad go through final preparations.
The tweets, the support, the autograph demands are "awesome", says Franklin. "Everywhere we go we're getting 'Good lucks' and 'congratulations' from everyone we meet when we're walking down the street. To have the whole town kind of here and behind us is the best."
After the US camp, the squad will be off to southern France for final holding before the Games.
On her prospects in London, Franklin told the US media at the Allan Jones Intercollegiate Aquatic Center on the Tennessee campus: "The only expectations that matter to me are those of my friends and family, and they have told me I've already won in their hearts. Multiple veterans on the team have given me the advice to just enjoy this. We've been working hard here this week, focusing on the smaller things. Pushing through training is all mental; it comes from the passion you have for the sport."
Frank Busch, US team director, says of Franklin: "She's pretty special; of all the kids I've come across, she's been able to deflect pressure better than any. That, or she simply doesn't see it as pressure. She's very humble and enjoys the opportunity to perform." At 6ft 1in and sporting a 76-inch wingspan and size 13 feet, she cuts an impressive figure even in a sport stacked with such specimens.
Franklin's coach Todd Schmitz played down the "seven", saying: "Swimming seven events has never been the vision; the vision has been to, A, swim four individual events, and B, to be on all three relay teams. You add them together, and you get C, seven events. But the focus is not on C itself."
Hardly impossible though. "It sounds daunting, but we have race-rehearsed it at every grand prix (professional swimming) event she swam in," Schmitz said. "She raced in three finals in 32 minutes and won all three at the Austin (Texas) Grand Prix in January of 2011."
Schmitz also notes that he is guiding a teenager: "She likes to get pedicures and manicures, she has a T-shirt decorating party planned and will go see (Justin) Bieber. After dinners, she'll occasionally ask for a cupcake or ice cream."
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