Monday March 23rd, 2015

Olympic gold medalist and national champion swimmer Missy Franklin has announced that she will compete professionally, according to an interview the swimmer gave to the Associated Press.

At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Franklin won four gold medals and one bronze medal. She turned down prize money to maintain her amateur status, and decided to swim for Cal-Berkeley. But after putting a professional career on hold for more than two years, Franklin will now go pro.

"This is a new chapter of my life," Franklin told the Associated Press. "The most important thing about this transition is I'm going to be able to reach more people. I can create a platform where I can inspire, reach out and help and encourage. Being a pro athlete gives me a lot of opportunities."

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Missy Franklin, 19, has swam under coach Teri McKeever at Cal-Berkeley for the past two seasons. In her final meet at the college level, Franklin helped the Bears to an NCAA title by winning national championships in the 200-meter freestyle, 200-meter backstroke and 200-meter individual medley; she also swam on the title-winning 800-meter freestyle relay team.

Though Franklin's status will no longer swim for the Bears, she intends to continue her college coursework. She said in the interview that she would complete the current school year and continue taking classes while she trains for the world championships in Russia this year and the Olympics in Brazil in 2016.

Franklin has chosen WME-IMG to represent her professional interests, with Mark Ervin as her primary agent. 

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''I felt it was just written in the stars with the way everything happened,'' Franklin said of her career thus far. ''It meant so much to me and I think everyone knows that. It was the perfect way to end it.''

- Brad Rowland

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