Meet seven Colorado athletes whose superhuman training programs and otherworldly self-control over their diets allow them to push their bodies to extremes—all for a shot at being the very best.

August 2013

Missy Franklin
Olympian & Collegiate Swimmer
Age: 18
Height: 6 feet 1.5 inches
Weight: 170 pounds
Average weekly training hours: 12–18 (pool), 3 (dry land)
Hometown in Colorado: Centennial

Meet Olympic champion Missy Franklin and there are a few things you’ll notice immediately: She’s tall and lean and, in her swimsuit, she cuts the muscular stature you’d expect of a world champion. ◗ It’s easy to dismiss her as a genetic jackpot winner. But Franklin has also worked nearly every day since middle school to become a four-time Olympic gold medalist and one of the most celebrated—and adored—athletes in the United States. “I had this huge body, but I didn’t know how to use it,” says Franklin, who graduated from Regis Jesuit High School this past spring and will start at the University of California, Berkeley this month. “I train so hard because I want to get better. I’m just so happy I get to do this every day.” ◗ That passion is what motivates her to get through her strenuous workout sessions. Each week, Franklin swims thousands of meters (up to 12,000 during double practice days) at metro Denver pools and then lifts dumbbells and powers through 180-pound trap bar squats, among other exercises, at least three times a week with Colorado training guru Loren Landow. All of that effort can burn 5,000 to 6,000 calories a day, so Franklin’s mother oversees her carefully constructed diet. Among her favorite dishes is a Greek salad with fresh bread (hold the butter), olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. ◗ Beloved by her fans for her girl-next-door persona, Franklin says living a normal life outside the spotlight is just as important as her training. Proof: After her senior prom in May, Franklin and some girlfriends got home around 1 a.m. The Olympian was up and on the road by 5 a.m. to train in a pool 30 minutes away—but she arrived back at her house in time to cook raspberry-chocolate-chip pancakes with warm maple syrup for everyone for breakfast.
—Robert Sanchez