A few weeks ago, I listened to Michael Gervais’s Finding Mastery podcast interview with Missy Franklin. With a wave of nostalgia over my own competitive swimming past, I picked up the Relentless Spirit audiobook from the library.

I wanted to hear about Missy’s Olympic swimming experience not so much as inspiration, but more to remind me of the years I spent in the pool, chasing the black line.

About the Book

Missy Franklin doesn’t narrate her own audiobook, but both of her parents make an appearance. This book takes Missy’s swimming career from the angle of how her relationships, primarily with her parents, shaped her success in the water. She even makes the point early on that plenty of other sources have covered her achievements, which included four gold medals at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Relentless Spirit

Once I started listening to this book, the familiarity just continued to grow. Turns out that Missy grew up in Colorado and went to high school at an all-girls high school in the Denver area.

While listening to Relentless Spirit, the conversational style made it seem like I was overhearing Missy’s parents tell stories about their daughter. They included a lot of their perspective on what it was like to see their young daughter dominate in the pool. When they described their London experience, I was in tears. Even though I’ve never been at a meet at that level, their story still hit close to home.


  • The storytelling in this book didn’t strike me as inspirational; I don’t think that was the intention. The goal seemed to be to explain how Missy grew up and how her supportive family environment opened the door to a high level of performance.
  • I thought a lot about my own competitive swimming “career.” I never came close to this level, but Missy’s story reminded me of how much time I spent swimming. And how much time my parents spent at swim meets, as well as driving me to two practices every day.
  • Beyond Missy’s amazing relationship with her parents, the thing that stood out most to me in this book was Missy’s ability to put aside anything that was happening outside of swimming so that she could focus on competing.
  • As there was a shift in her swimming at the Rio Olympics, there is also a shift in the book’s tone at this point in the story. It becomes almost defensive. The strong, self-assured athlete disappears and is replaced by someone who sounds defeated. Toward the end of her career, swimming sounds like a grind — a job.
  • Even though you can do everything right as far as training, eating well, stretching, and getting in the gym time, you still must maintain some degree of lightheartedness and fun.

Favorite Quotes

“Croggling” – when you cry into your goggles. “I croggled my eyes out.”

The mind-body connection is a muscle that can be strengthened.

Swimming makes me happy.