This week’s conversation is with Missy Franklin, a five-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time FINA World Swimmer of the Year.

Missy retired from swimming in December of 2018 after an incredible career.

In 2011, she established herself as one of the top swimmers in the world when she won five medals – three of them gold – at the 2011 FINA World Championships in Shanghai.

At the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Missy won four gold medals and one bronze medal.

Missy’s performance in the 200-meter backstroke broke the world record in the event and also marked the first time that an American had won the event in 40 years.

Missy was named “World Swimmer of the Year” and “American Swimmer of the Year” by Swimming World Magazine and earned the ESPY for “Best Female Olympian “in 2013 and “Best Female College Athlete” in 2015.

Missy brought home another gold medal from the 2016 Rio Olympics for her performance in the 4 x 200 relay but viewed those Olympic Games as one of the most challenging experiences of her life.

A shoulder injury leading up to the games derailed her both physically and mentally and continued to hamper her in the years after those Games.

And that’s something we touch on in this conversation.

Missy shares how she dealt with the first real adversity she faced in her life and the depression that followed it.

In Missy words:

“It’s not about whether or not someone’s gone through more than you or whether or not someone’s lost more or gained more, it’s just about being human together and knowing that we all experience these emotions based on so many different things.”

And I think that’s something really important to think about– regardless of our upbringing, status, or fame, we all go through something, we all experience adversity.

No one lives a “perfect” life but it’s how we learn from those moments and help each other get better at managing them.

“It doesn’t matter whether I’m first or I’m last, I treat everyone the exact same. There’s no negotiating that. That’s just a fundamental piece of who I want to be and who I know I’m capable of being.”

In This Episode:

  • What allowed her to so successful on the world stage… specifically at the Olympic Games?
  • Why practicing imagery and visualization were key to her preparation process
  • What was the core driver for her? Joy
  • The reason she loved swimming so much … it was therapeutic for her
  • Why she’s an avid supporter of letting kids play all sports and explore early on
  • The most rewarding thing for her: the feeling that there was nothing else she could have done to be better
  • Why the Rio Olympics were the biggest failure of her life
  • How she prepares mentally to be the same person in failure as she is in victory
  • Her quest to be her best rather than worry about how others compare around her
  • Where she learned to value sportsmanship
  • Experiencing depression leading up to and after the Rio Games and what it taught her about herself
  • Realizing being authentic was the key to overcoming challenging times
  • The most important mental skills for her… goal setting + self-talk
  • What she hopes the next generation gets right
  • Her definition of mastery


Listen via: Apple Podcasts | Android | SpotifyStitcher | Pocket Casts |  RSS



“I drew a picture of myself on top of a podium at the Olympics, winning a gold medal when I was 5. To think that 12 years later that actually happened, it was just so surreal. It was something I had dreamt of and worked for literally my entire life.”

“I never want to be done challenging myself. I never want to be finished trying to be my best. I refuse to ever stop growing, ever stop trying to see what I’m capable of.”


Related Episodes:

  • Finding Mastery 193: Apollo Ohno, 8x Winter Olympics Medalist, on Competition, Olympic Greatness, and Transitions
  • Finding Mastery 175: Abby Wambach, 2x Summer Olympics Medalist and FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion, on Motivation, Transitions, and Equality
  • Finding Mastery 110: Bob Bowman, ASU Swimming Head Coach, on What It Takes to Succeed at the Olympic Games


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Retired Swimmer

Missy Franklin is an American former competition swimmer and five-time Olympic gold medalist. She formerly held the world record in the 200-meter backstroke. As a member of the U.S. national swim team, she also held the world records in the 4×100-meter medley relay.