TODAY's Matt Lauer chats with swimmer Missy Franklin, 17, who trains in Aurora, Colo., and said that as her "thoughts and prayers are constantly with the victims," she will concentrate on winning to make the people of her home state proud.
Olympic swimmer Missy "The Missile" Franklin was training in France on July 20 when she spent several tense hours waiting to hear from everyone back home after news broke of the deadly shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.
Franklin's hometown is Centennial, Colo., but the 17-year-old goes to school and trains in nearby Aurora. With the biggest competition of her life looming, she has much of her mind on her local community.
“My thoughts and prayers are constantly with the victims of Aurora, and anyone else affected,” Franklin told TODAY’s Matt Lauer in London on Wednesday. "Hearing that news was so hard because even a lot of people at home hadn’t heard it yet. Because we were in France, the time zone was so far ahead, and waiting to hear from all my friends and family to make sure they were OK was just miserable.”
Franklin is hoping that swimming well in London can be a bright spot for a devastated community.
"(I'm going to put) my focus here and hopefully do the best that I can to shine some light on Colorado and make them proud,'' she said.
During an emotional week, Franklin will get a boost on Thursday when her parents arrive in London.
“I think they’re going to be so excited,” she said. “I’ve been Skyping with them every day. They miss me so much and I miss them so much, and it’s terrible being apart from them.”
On the lighter side, Franklin also is making some comical adjustments to living in the Olympic Village. On Wednesday morning, just before her appearance on TODAY, she blew a fuse in her apartment.
“We were straightening our hair to come on the TODAY Show, and I just plugged my converter in and I heard a little pop,'' Franklin said. "Then our fans started turning off, and everyone was like, ‘Why is nothing working?’”
When the Olympic Village is dark and has no functioning air conditioning, look to Franklin for an explanation.
Expectations are high for Franklin, who swimming experts believe will be a breakout star in London. Before hitting the water she has already made history, becoming the first American woman to qualify for seven events at the Olympics.
While the pressure can be overwhelming, she is grateful for the support.
"The only expectations I think about are my own and the people that I really care about - my coach, my family,'' Franklin said. "Those expectations are just to have fun, and I know that’s what you guys want me to do, too.”
As one of the youngest members of the team, Franklin has been seeking advice from Olympic veterans.
"The best piece of advice I’ve gotten is to take in every moment that we have here and enjoy every second,'' she said.