"It took me a long time to say the words, 'I am retiring,' " Franklin told ESPN

By Jason Duaine Hahn
December 19, 2018 02:20 PM
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Two-time FINA World Swimmer of the Year and Olympic medalist Missy Franklin — who captivated the country during her amazing run at the 2012 games in London, where she captured four of her five gold medals — is retiring from swimming at just 23 years old.

Franklin announced the decision in a blog post on ESPN W, saying the lingering pain in her shoulder, and her upcoming wedding, all weighed heavily into her decision to leave the sport.

“It took me a long time to say the words, ‘I am retiring,’ ” Franklin told the outlet. “A long, long time. But now I’m ready. I’m ready to not be in pain every day. I’m ready to become a wife, one day a mother.”

She continued: “I’m ready to continue growing each and every day to be the best person and role model I can be. I’m ready for the rest of my life.”

Portraits - 2018 Laureus World Sports Awards - Monaco
Credit: Simon Hofmann/Getty

Franklin got engaged to former swimmer Hayes Johnson in September and has excitedly shared her wedding plans on social media ever since — including when the couple moved in together in August.

Red Carpet - 2018 Laureus World Sports Awards - Monaco
Missy Franklin and Hayes Johnson
| Credit: Christian Alminana/Getty Images

“I asked him to pinch me TWICE to make sure I wasn’t dreaming,” Franklin, from Pasadena, California, wrote on Instagram about her big moment with Hayes. “Loving our new home beyond words and loving my new roomie even more.”

After Franklin broke the news of her decision, Speedo USA President John Graham spoke out about the legacy she is leaving behind.

“Missy Franklin has left an indelible mark on the sport of swimming that goes far beyond her competitive accomplishments,” Graham said in a statement.

“Since taking the global stage as a teenager, she has inspired us all with her passion for the water, indomitable spirit and contagious smile. We are proud to have been a part of Missy’s journey from the start, and will undoubtedly continue to support her endeavors as she takes on this new chapter.”

Rio Olympics Swimming, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 08 Aug 2016
Missy Franklin at the 2016 Summer Olympics
| Credit: Michael Sohn/AP/REX/Shutterstock

While she won’t be competing, Franklin assured fans that she won’t be far from the pool anytime soon.

“This is by no means the end. Rather, I choose to look at this as a new beginning. Swimming has been, and always will be, a big part of my life and I absolutely plan to stay involved in what I believe is the best sport in the world, just in a different way,” she wrote.

“I hope to continue to inspire others to be their best, both in and out of the pool, and I’m truly excited about this next chapter and how my relationship with the sport will continue to change and grow.”