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Olympian visits paradise for a purpose

12:36 PM, May 6, 2013   |    comments
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(KUSA)- There are only a few classes left for the seniors at Regis Jesuit High School. Prom was Saturday. Soon finals will be behind them as well.

Spring Break seems like it was long ago. It wasn't.

Dawn revealed the best of Bimini. It is a slice of serenity that is 53 miles east of Miami, but it feels infinitely further from anywhere.

"Look at this place. It's paradise. I love it," Missy Franklin said.

It is everything you see on a postcard from the Bahamas. Except maybe for the golf cart with the missing windshield, bumping down a partially paved road.

Franklin laughed as she held on tightly.

"This is the start of Spring Break right here," she said.

There is no one around in the island village before 5 a.m. one April morning. Isolated is a growing improbability for this 17-year-old after the fame of five Olympic Medals.

Her dad, Dick Franklin, was at the wheel of the golf cart as another one passed them.

"You are like the mom in the mini-van," Franklin teased.

They were surrounded by water and searching for a pool.

"Right now we are heading to swim workout and that will be about 2 hours," Franklin said.

It is the kind of quiet you cannot find in a city - until Franklin dives in.

"Holy crap!" she squealed. "This water is freezing."

The pool looked out on the ocean as the sail boats mosey by. But, this trip isn't about the scenery or time way.

Bimini is the sound stage for a movie called The Current. It is a documentary that Boulder filmmaker Kurt Miller is making through his nonprofit

It is a documentary about people with physical challenges who learning to scuba dive.

The ocean is the great equalizer. There are no limits or comparisons as the water carries them.

Franklin is the able bodied athlete ambassador for the film. She dives with NCAA Wrestling champion Anthony Robles, who was born without a right leg, and Mallory Weggamann, a gold medal Para Olympic swimmer. She was paralyzed from the waist down after a medical mistake.

"Scuba diving with them is incredible. How can you ever complain or have any negative thoughts when you have these two people next to you," Franklin said. "They are proof that you just can't limit yourself, no matter the situation."

"The fact that they are making a documentary about it is going to be very inspirational to anyone who can watch it," she said.

It is a time of purpose in paradise. Between takes, there is other work to do.

Every morning started with a two hour practice. It required every bit of AP math she took her high school senior year. Franklin showed 9NEWS a handwritten workout sheet with her calculations.

"I have six 33's and twelve 66's. The distances are really funky because the pool is an awkward length."

Dick Franklin watched from a lawn chair pool side. "You still cold, honey?" he asked.

"Oh yes!" she answered.

"Then you are not swimming fast enough," her dad smiled.

Her dad watched her do lap after lap. It has been a favorite Franklin family formula for the last 13 years.

It was a rare, quiet, slow moment. It seemed to magnify how fast it's all gone.

Dick Franklin looked at the rising sun.

"I'll be coming over the building soon," he said.

Every stroke in the water brings the next destination closer: college in California and moving away from home.

"I feel like we really needed his trip there has been so much going on this year. The time with my mom and has been so special," Franklin said.


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