KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Missy Franklin is so excited about everything that comes with being an Olympian she was even thrilled to have her blood drawn.
The 17-year-old is at her first training camp as an Olympian, and the only drawback for the teen swimming in seven events at the London Games is being separated from her parents. That made Thursday a special day when her father, Dick, arrived in time for dinner and a trip to the movies to watch "Finding Nemo."
Franklin said not seeing her parents every day has been hard even with Skype, phone calls and constant texts.
Her favorite word to describe her experience seems to be awesome. Franklin is enjoying herself so much that she can't pick out just one favorite part of being at the Olympic training camp.
"Everything," Franklin said with a laugh. "It has been so much fun just being able to lie in bed at night and realize 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."
No wonder Franklin will be swimming in seven different events in London. There is no reason for her to be forced to pick and choose when at 6-foot-1, the teen with size 13 feet swims so very well in so many.
Her youthful exuberance is something veteran teammate Natalie Coughlin thinks will help Franklin once the Colorado teen arrives in London where a thousand reporters, a variety of different languages and translators await on a stage that is very different from the world championships.
Coughlin said the world championships are very big and Franklin swam in Shanghai last year. But Coughlin added that nothing compares to the Olympics and being young can be a big help at the games.
"There is just a wonder, freshness and naiveté that helps manage all the expectations and all the pressures," said Coughlin, who swam at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. "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 sounds ready to do just that, even as she prepares to swim in seven events, including both the 100 and 200 freestyle, 100 and 200 backstroke, 400 freestyle relay and 800 freestyle relay. Her biggest challenge as the U.S. Olympic team spends this week training at the University of Tennessee has been conserving her energy. She got a test trying to manage that during the Olympic trials when Franklin said she literally was bouncing off the walls.
During this weeklong camp, the Olympians are swimming so hard that Franklin said she doesn't have as much energy as she will. The team will be heading for another camp in France where the teen will have to perform in a skit as an Olympic rookie. Then the team will arrive in London.
"I need to make sure I'm doing what's best for me, and that's making sure I'm ready to explode once I get to the Olympics," Franklin said.
The lone open practice during the weeklong session Thursday brought out an estimated 2,000 fans, even though only 1,200 could get inside to watch Olympians practicing in two pools. Those turned away swarmed around the outdoor pool even in a light rain, and Michael Phelps noted he had plenty of tweets from fans alerting him they got in line a couple hours early just to get the chance to see the team.
"Everywhere we go we're getting 'Good lucks' and 'congratulations' from everyone we meet when we're walking down the street," Franklin said. "To have the whole town kind of here and behind us is the best."
If Franklin needs any advice from someone who's competed in several events at the Olympics, she can always turn to Coughlin, a team co-captain. The 11-time medalist is headed to her third Olympics and is willing to answer any questions. Coughlin said the key with multiple events is taking one race at a time, which she expects Franklin to do.
Franklin also doesn't have to worry about sponsors because her parents want her to attend college after her senior year of high school near Denver.
"She ... has an incredible maturity for someone her age, and I think that's because she has great parents and a really great coach that has helped navigate the waters of the Olympic craziness," Coughlin said.
Franklin calls her parents her best friends, and she said she handles all the pressure knowing that family and friends already are proud of her.
"It brings a whole new comfort level to it and just makes me relax so much more," Franklin said. "No matter what happens, I know I get to go home to them."