Olympic Gold Medalist Missy Franklin Returns To The Pool

So, I got an email the other night from the Senior Writer here in Denver for Maxpreps.  It was information that US Olympic Gold Medalist, and Senior at Regis Jesuit High School, Missy Franklin was going to be swimming in the meet Tuesday evening against Highlands Ranch.  Regis Jesuit is in Aurora, about 30 plus miles away from me.  The email was sent to all the Denver area photographers, and there are a number of the shooters, ok, all of the other shooters were much closer to Regis Jesuit than I was.  I had shot Missy and other Olympians at a Colorado Rapids soccer game late last year, and while I would love to shoot her in the pool, I was willing to let someone else take this meet.  But no one jumped on it.  I am thinking, this is a 4 time gold medalist from last summer’s Olympic games in London, and no one wants to shoot her?  I will do it!.

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin and a teammate relive the Justin Bieber concert from the night before during the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin and a teammate relive the Justin Bieber concert from the night before during the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

I emailed the media contact at Regis Jesuit.  With Missy swimming, they were limiting the amount of media to 4.  I heard nothing back from the Regis Jesuit, so Tuesday morning I emailed again and got a response back that they were full up, but I could get in the following week.  Well, that was disappointing.  I was all set, but that was that.  I sent an email back thanking them, and to let me know before 2pm if they had any cancelations and a spot open up.

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin shakes her arms out prior to the start of one of her 4 heats during the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin shakes her arms out prior to the start of one of her 4 heats during the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

About ten minutes later I got an email from Regis Jesuit saying that there was a cancelation and I had a spot.  So, I packed up my gear, and headed out to Regis Jesuit High School.  Not being there before, I was kind of turned around, but my GPS got me there with no issues about an hour before the meet started.  I walked into the pool and my heart just sank.  The Regis Jesuit pool looked like it may had originally been an outdoor pool and at some point when they added the locker rooms, they did an inflatable building for the pool.

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin doing a butterfly stroke in one of her 4 heats during the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin doing a butterfly stroke in one of her 4 heats during the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

It was lit by 8 metal halide lights pointing up.  It was dark.  ISO 2500 on my 7D, which I had a 70-200 2.8 on.  I thought about my 85 1.8 for my 1D, but it was going to be too short.  Unfortunately, with Missy swimming, and Regis Jesuit expecting a large crowd, media was located over by the scorers table, and once the meet started, thats where we had to be.  Period.  So, no head on shots of Missy doing the butterfly, or breast strokes.  Bummer.

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin doing a butterfly stroke in one of her 4 heats during the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin doing a butterfly stroke in one of her 4 heats during the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

I secured my location, and the Regis Jesuit team came in.  It was funny.  I knew Missy was tall, but when she is surrounded by a bunch of high school girls, she is about a head taller than all of them.  The girls did stretching before getting into the pool.  Missy walked by and we said hi.  I was giving her space.  I was the only shooter there so far, and I could have had unrestricted access to pictures of her, but she was chatting with teammates and coaches, and there was going to be enough going on for her, I gave her space while she was getting ready.  It gave me time to think of what kind of shots I was going to be able to get from the location I was given.

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin doing a butterfly stroke in one of her 4 heats during the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin doing a butterfly stroke in one of her 4 heats during the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

I have shot swimming once before, and I remember not liking it at all.  So, here I was, shooting a sport I did not like shooting.  But, I guess my experience in the past was in the past, because, even with how bad the lighting was in the pool, I was excited.  I was really struggling with the lighting and the cycling lights, but I was going to deal with it.

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin doing a back stroke in one of her 4 heats during the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin doing a back stroke in one of her 4 heats during the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

Other photographers started to show up, and we were getting closer to the start of the race.  Looking at the pool, I suddenly realized this is not an Olympic sized pool.  I soon discovered it was a 25 yard pool.  What gave it away was, while Missy was warming up, she would come off the block, go under water, and when she was ready to come up for her first stroke, she could get one or two in before it was time to turn.

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin doing a back stroke in one of her 4 heats during the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin doing a back stroke in one of her 4 heats during the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

When the races started, everyone would dive in at the start, and most everyone had come up for their first few strokes of whatever discipline they were swimming, by the time Missy would come up for her first stroke, but she would have about a quarter of a pool lead on the rest of the swimmers.  It reminded me of when I photographed Kelly Cobb in Alaska.  How she was just that good, and it was like she was toying with everyone.  Any race Missy was in was truly a race for second place.

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin doing a breast stroke in one of her 4 heats during the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin doing a breast stroke in one of her 4 heats during the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

When Missy swam the 500 yard freestyle, which was 20 lengths of the pool, she finished the race and the next closest swimmer was 5 lengths of the pool behind her.  But as good as she was, you could tell just by watching her, she is still just a high school student.  She went to the Justin Bieber concert the night before, and it was obvious that between races, she and some of her teammates were reliving that concert.  There were a lot of hugs, smiles, waves, and laughter coming from Missy.

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin congratulates a Highlands Ranch swimmer after one of her 4 heats during the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin congratulates a Highlands Ranch swimmer after one of her 4 heats during the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

And she pushes her other teammates, after she finished her races she would go side to side in her lane, cheering her teammates on.  She would hug her teammates weather they placed well, or fell short.  She is as big a cheerleader for this team as she is a competitor.

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin cheers a teammate on in one of her 4 heats during the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin cheers a teammate on in one of her 4 heats during the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

It will be exciting to see what Missy does the rest of this season and how she handles the change to the NCAA next year swimming for Cal.  I am sure she will still dominate the competition, but I am sure there will be college swimmers that will give her a run now and then.

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin cheers a teammate on from the deck in the last of her 4 heats during the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin cheers a teammate on from the deck in the last of her 4 heats during the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

The one thing that really struck me funny, and I have never seen this in any sport I had shot before.  But swimmers from Highlands Ranch were coming over to Missy after the meet was over and getting pictures with her.  I started thinking about it, and it has got to be a lot of pressure for someone this young, to not only be a competitor to these girls, someone they want to beat, oh so bad, but also she is their idol, someone they watched and cheered for this past summer as she swam to 4 gold medals in London.  And honestly, I would hate to be a high school swimmer, get on my block, look over next to me and see that tattoo of the Olympic Rings on the leg of the swimmer next to me.  My stomach would probably turn inside out.

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin poses for a photo with members of the Highlands Ranch after the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

January 8th, 2013: Regis Jesuit High School swimmer and Olympic Gold medalist Missy Franklin poses for a photo with members of the Highlands Ranch after the dual meet between Regis Jesuit and Highlands Ranch on Tuesday evening in Aurora, Colorado

One thing I forgot.  I went in with the understanding that strobes and flash was not ok for swimming, but then they told us we could not use flash for the start, but for the rest of the race, we were good, so I was able to throw my 120-300 lens onto my 1D Mk II and I bounced my flash off the ceiling, and got some ok shots despite the metal halide lights.  I kept the 70-200 on my 7D and shot that at ISO 2500, but with the flash, I was able to shoot the 1D at ISO 800, and the images look nice.

Oh, and the 4 races Missy was in?  200 yard IM, 500 yard Freestyle, 200 yard Freestyle Relay, and the 400 yard Freestyle Relay….she won them all…

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