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Olympic gold medalist swimmer reveals post-Rio depression: 'The best is yet to come'

Missy Franklin, who won four swimming gold medals at the 2012 Olympics, spoke about dealing with depression after a disappointing 2016 Rio Olympics performance.
/ Source: TODAY

Missy Franklin became a star at the 2012 Summer Olympics when she took home four gold medals at the age of 17, and charmed the world with her bubbly personality.

Since her time in London, the swimming prodigy has experienced the highs of winning world and NCAA titles, and the lows of failing to reach the finals in two events at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Now she is eager for a fresh start.

Franklin, 22, has transferred from the University of California, Berkeley to the University of Georgia, where the junior swimmer will train under her former national team coach, Jack Bauerle, with an eye on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

She is looking to rebound after the disappointment in Rio that followed after she failed to reach the finals in the 200-meter freestyle and backstroke.

"Every year of your life isn't going to be the next best year," she told NBC Atlanta affiliate WXIA. "Some aspects are, but there are also going to be some incredible challenges. Sometimes those times of challenge last a lot longer than we would like them to, but that only helps you come out that much stronger at the end."

Franklin was diagnosed with depression and anxiety ahead of the Rio Olympics, which she kept to herself.

"I cherish the highest highs more than I can say,'' she said. "Those times in those memories, just reflecting on them, brings me some indescribable joy and happiness and gratitude.

"But the lowest lows, as hard as they are to look back on again, it gives me this hope and strength in myself that I was able to make it through something I never thought I was ever going to have to go through, let alone make it out of."

Franklin has extended family and good friends in Georgia and a boyfriend who lives in Nashville, Tennessee, so the move has brought her a certain comfort level. She will not be swimming on the collegiate level, and instead is preparing herself for a run at a spot on the Olympic team in two years.

She is also hoping her struggles can help others dealing with similar issues.

"I would go through what I went through 100 times over, knowing that it gave me this knowledge and wisdom, however small it might be, to help people who are experiencing something similar,'' she said.

Training with the coach who worked with her when she was 13, and being fully healthy after surgery on both shoulders following the 2016 Olympics, Franklin is looking to regain the love of the sport that made her a household name as a teen.

"God has given me so much perspective through all of this,'' she said. "The best is yet to come, and that could mean a million different things to me right now."

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.