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Profiles in Speed: Missy Franklin has body built for speed

By Bryan Flaherty

The second chapter in Amy Shipley’s “Profiles in Speed” series features world champion swimmer Missy Franklin and takes a detailed look at the physical advantages that make swimmers, like Franklin, so perfectly suited for swimming fast.

Franklin, 16, turned heads at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai when she took home five medals, three of them gold. Later, in 2011, Frankin became the first woman to break an individual world record since the high tech bodysuit ban began in 2010, setting the short-course world record in the 200-meter backstroke at the FINA World Cup in Berlin.

Graphic: If you were to build a swimmer from scratch, you’d start with Missy Franklin’s physique

Excerpt from Chapter 2: Physiology – Built for Speed:

“Promising young stars raise hopes in every four-year Olympic cycle, but rarely does one come along quite like Franklin. In an age in which ever-advancing training methods, equipment, nutrition and medical care have pushed speed records to almost incomprehensible levels, athletes such as Phelps and Franklin enjoy certain natural advantages. Both seem more suited for the sea than land.

Each possesses an unteachable comfort underwater and a long, flexible body. Franklin stands 6 feet 1, wears size 13 shoes and sports a 6-4 wingspan. When such physically gifted swimmers perform at their peak, keeping pace with them is virtually impossible.”

Story: Missy Franklin is a natural-born swimmer

Gallery: Missy Franklin

Profiles in Speed: The series

In Profiles in Speed, Amy Shipley examines what makes an athlete fast: Technology, Physiology, Strategy, Age, Psychology, and Chemistry. Each month she will feature an athlete preparing for the 2012 London Olympics. Check back in May as we feature 5-time Olympian, Dara Torres, as she continues her unprecedented run at a sixth Olympics appearance at age 45, competing against swimmer half her age.

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