Cheryl Preheim, USA TODAY Sports
CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Five-time Olympic medalist Missy Franklin has made her decision. She will swim for the California Golden Bears.
"I instantly felt at home there," Franklin told 9NEWS on Saturday. "The team dynamic is incredible."
Colorado's Rocky Mountains have been the backdrop for Franklin's childhood. After she finishes her senior year at Regis Jesuit High School, she will move to the college campus perched on the edge of the San Francisco Bay.
Franklin, 17, opted to keep her amateur status after the London Games so she could be eligible to swim in college. That meant turning down a long list of endorsement offers.
Swimming has never been about the money for Franklin. It has been about the love of the sport and her desire to be part of a team.
"The friends I swim with in college will be the bridesmaids at my wedding," she said. "You can't put a price on friendship. You can't put a price on being part of a team."
At this point, Franklin says she plans to swim in college for two years before turning professional. She tells 9NEWS she intends to continue to train with the Cal team and finish her education.
After returning from London with four gold medals and a bronze, she narrowed her list to four colleges: Georgia, Texas, Southern Cal, and Cal Berkeley. She says she has great respect for each of the programs and enjoyed meeting the swimmers and coaching staffs. Ultimately, Cal was the place she felt was the best fit.
Franklin will swim for a coach she already knows well. Teri McKeever, in her 21st year at Cal, was also the head coach of the U.S. Olympic women's team.
"She had such a way to motivate us and to bring the team together." Franklin said. There was a mix of rookies and veterans on the Olympic team in London. "She encouraged the veterans to share their experiences with us.
"It helped us so much and made our Olympic team so close."
McKeever was the first female Olympic head coach and the first female coach to win an NCAA swimming title.
Cal has been home to many Olympic swimmers, including Dana Vollmer who was on the gold medal medley relay alongside Franklin. Rachel Bootsma, who competed in London, swims for Cal. Natalie Coughlin also swam for McKeever.
Oral commitments are non-binding. The first day swimming recruits can sign a national letter of intent is Nov. 14.
Preheim also writes for KUSA-Denver.