When it comes to making a splash in London Aquatics Centre's 160-foot pool, veteran U.S. swimmers – ahem, Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps – soak up much attention, between their all-time record aspirations and gold medal-worthy accessories
But there's a fresher face emerging as a 2012 Summer Olympics
breakthrough star (with her stars-and-stripes nail art
, no less): 17-year-old Missy Franklin.
Already toting gold and bronze medals, Franklin goes by the nickname Missy the Missile. But before she hits the pool again Tuesday for the 200 M freestyle final (and another shot at striking gold), here's five things to know about America's Olympian sweetheart.
1. She Was Made to Swim
Standing tall at 6-foot-1, she launches herself into the water with size 13-feet and a 6-foot-4-inch wingspan, reports ABC News
. Her hands are 8-and-½ inches measured from her wrist to her longest fingertip – or the size of Frisbees.
My "physique is definitely so helpful," she told the Washington Post
earlier this year. "My feet – my parents always say – are like my built-in flippers … I definitely don't think I would be where I am in swimming without the body that I have. I am so blessed."
2. Justin Bieber's Cheering Her On
in her, too. The pop star
joined the swimmer's already-solid fan base following her golden triumph in the 100 M backstroke. And the feeling is mutual. "heard @FranklinMissy is a fan of mine. now im a fan of hers too. CONGRATS on winning GOLD! #muchlove," he Tweeted
Besides, they have something in common: Both added
their star power to video sing-alongs
of Carly Rae Jepsen's summer anthem, "Call Me Maybe."
3. Michael Phelps Is Also a Fan
From one Olympian to another: "I can't believe you just did that!" Phelps told Franklin after she scored gold within 15 minutes of qualifying for Tuesday's freestyle final. (The least amount of time he's had between Olympic swims was 30 minutes, he told her, according to the Denver Post
Phelps, 27, who has 17 medals to his name, previously called her
"a stud," praising her for "always swimming fast."
4. She Has Ties to Colorado
Before she headed to London, Franklin expressed her sorrow over the tragedy
that unfolded in Aurora, Colo., where she attends high school, when 12 people
were fatally shot
at a midnight screening of the latest Batman
"Praying for everyone hurt and affected by the theater shooting in Aurora," she Tweeted
after news broke July 20. "I'm in total disbelief and shock. Things happen so quickly. #pray."
5. She'll Stick to Swimming
She may know her away around the pool – but don't hand Franklin a paintbrush, or a guitar.
"I'm a terrible artist. I can draw stick figures and a good flower, but that's probably about it," she said in a interview with NBC
. "And I have no musical talent whatsoever." For the record: She sang along to the U.S. national anthem just fine on the medals stand!