Alison Schwartz
July 31, 2012 10:55 AM

When it comes to making a splash in London Aquatics Centre’s 160-foot pool, veteran U.S. swimmers – ahem, Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps – soak up much attention, between their all-time record aspirations and gold medal-worthy accessories.

But there’s a fresher face emerging as a 2012 Summer Olympics breakthrough star (with her stars-and-stripes nail art, no less): 17-year-old Missy Franklin.

Already toting gold and bronze medals, Franklin goes by the nickname Missy the Missile. But before she hits the pool again Tuesday for the 200 M freestyle final (and another shot at striking gold), here’s five things to know about America’s Olympian sweetheart.

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1. She Was Made to Swim
Standing tall at 6-foot-1, she launches herself into the water with size 13-feet and a 6-foot-4-inch wingspan, reports ABC News. Her hands are 8-and-½ inches measured from her wrist to her longest fingertip – or the size of Frisbees.

My “physique is definitely so helpful,” she told the Washington Post earlier this year. “My feet – my parents always say – are like my built-in flippers I definitely don’t think I would be where I am in swimming without the body that I have. I am so blessed.”

2. Justin Bieber’s Cheering Her On
He be-liebs in her, too. The pop star joined the swimmer’s already-solid fan base following her golden triumph in the 100 M backstroke. And the feeling is mutual. “heard @FranklinMissy is a fan of mine. now im a fan of hers too. CONGRATS on winning GOLD! #muchlove,” he Tweeted.

Besides, they have something in common: Both added their star power to video sing-alongs of Carly Rae Jepsen’s summer anthem, “Call Me Maybe.”

3. Michael Phelps Is Also a Fan
From one Olympian to another: “I can’t believe you just did that!” Phelps told Franklin after she scored gold within 15 minutes of qualifying for Tuesday’s freestyle final. (The least amount of time he’s had between Olympic swims was 30 minutes, he told her, according to the Denver Post.)

Phelps, 27, who has 17 medals to his name, previously called her “a stud,” praising her for “always swimming fast.”

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4. She Has Ties to Colorado
Before she headed to London, Franklin expressed her sorrow over the tragedy that unfolded in Aurora, Colo., where she attends high school, when 12 people were fatally shot at a midnight screening of the latest Batman movie.

“Praying for everyone hurt and affected by the theater shooting in Aurora,” she Tweeted after news broke July 20. “I’m in total disbelief and shock. Things happen so quickly. #pray.”

5. She’ll Stick to Swimming
She may know her away around the pool – but don’t hand Franklin a paintbrush, or a guitar.

“I’m a terrible artist. I can draw stick figures and a good flower, but that’s probably about it,” she said in a interview with NBC. “And I have no musical talent whatsoever.” For the record: She sang along to the U.S. national anthem just fine on the medals stand!

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