US Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin isn't just swimming to try to win the gold. She's swimming to try to lift the spirits of those from her hometown Aurora, Colorado after a dozen people were killed and 58 were injured in the deadly shooting at a movie theater on July 20.
The 17-year old swimmer is from Centennial, Colorado, but she attends school and trains in Aurora, where the deadly shooting took place. Franklin, who is the first US woman to swim seven events at one Olympics, was not in town at the time as she was at a training camp preparing for the Olympics in Vichy, France. However, she is still deeply affected by the tragedy.
"It's definitely been hard. I first learned from Twitter. I was going through the news feed and I saw CNN tweeted it out and clicked on the link and read about it and was absolutely horrified," Franklin told a press conference at the Games last week.
When Franklin heard about the news, she contacted her family. "I texted my mum right away and even though it was 3:00 am there and I told her, she immediately got on the news and was sending me constant updates."
Due to a time difference, Franklin has to wait several hours to hear from her friends to find out if any of them were at the Century 16 Theater when the shooting occurred. Franklin and her family did not know any of the victims. Franklin has never been to that theater herself.
"But Aurora and Colorado in general is such a close state that when something like that happens we're all affected by it, no matter who it is," she said, "It's hitting very close to home."
Now, as she competes in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, Franklin has Aurora in her heart and mind. She hopes to do well to lift the spirits of those affected by the tragedy back home.
"Every single race I'm going to have that Colorado incident back on my mind," Franklin told the Associated Press. "It's such a terrible thing and I'm so shaken by it. They're in my thoughts this entire process."
"It was just so senseless and you have to wonder why these things happen in the world," she said.
"Unfortunately, there's nothing I can do about it, I wish there was, but right now all I have to do is what I can do here and swim my heart out. Hopefully, I can make my state proud and give a little bit of fun for this really tough summer that Colorado has had."
The young swimmer won five medals including three gold medals at the Shanghai world championships in 2011. She is among the Olympic favorites.
On July 20, suspect shooter James Holmes, 24, entered the Century 16 movie theater during the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. He opened fire, taking the lives of 12 people and injuring dozens of others.