ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — It was more of the same for Olympic star Missy Franklin while swimming in her first meet since concluding her high school career.
The four-time gold medalist at last year's London Summer Olympics easily won her second event in two nights at the Arena Grand Prix on Friday.
Not long after she won the 100-meter backstroke finals in 59.34 seconds, posting the best time in the event this year to easily beat runner-up Olivia Smoliga, Franklin sat sprawling on the trainer's table, getting a massage while signing autographs and doing an interview.
Yet the star high schooler says she hasn't changed — aside from a few small details.
"The only thing that's changed is being able to go to all these amazing events on the weekends," Franklin said. "On the weekends, I feel like Hannah Montana sometimes, just to be a normal high school student during the week but then go to the Golden Globes or meet Justin Bieber on the weekend. It's just been a dream come true."
So was leading Regis Jesuit High School in Colorado to its second state title in three years last week.
It has all been part of the challenge for Franklin to balance the demands of celebrity with her desire to maintain her competitive edge. Mission accomplished, according to her coach, Todd Schmitz.
"Unbelievable," Schmitz said. "She doesn't let any of it go to her head."
Schmitz was happy to get Franklin's focus off of high school swimming and back on national and international competition, where she will follow this week's events with the Western Region Sectionals in Washington in March.
"I'm glad she did it; she did it for the right reasons," Schmitz said of Franklin's decision to finish out her prep career, which prompted some debate in the media. "But everyone's plate is so full and you can't continually add things. We don't have to worry about high school anymore."
Franklin's plate right now includes working with special needs kids at local elementary schools before jetting to the Bahamas to shoot a documentary about adaptive skiing. Still, she maintains she's the same old Franklin.
"No, I definitely don't consider myself a celebrity," Franklin said. "Every weekend has been something new, but it's been a blast — I'm really, really enjoying it."
Also on Friday night, fellow gold medalist Tyler Clary took his second event in two nights with a victory in the 200 butterfly, and Ryan Lochte placed third in the 100 backstroke behind Ryan Murphy and Robert Hurley.
Other Olympians taking home victories included Anthony Ervin (50 free) and Ryan Cochrane (400 free). The meet ends Saturday.