BERKELEY -- Olympic swim star Missy Franklin made it official Wednesday when faxing her letter of intent to Cal to give the Golden Bears one of the highest-profile recruits in school history.

That was a relief for women's coach Teri McKeever, who recalled Wednesday how Franklin "tricked her" into thinking she was going to another school.

"My heart sank for about 30 seconds until she cleared it up," McKeever said.

Franklin, 17, decided to come to the Bay Area instead of turning professional after winning four gold medals and a bronze at the London Games. Analysts estimated she gave up $1 million in endorsements to become the centerpiece of another strong recruiting class at Cal that included six swimmers and a diver.

Franklin, of Centennial, Colo., plans to swim collegiately for two years and then turn pro while continuing to work toward a degree. She is expected to be America's featured swimmer for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"I can't wait to be challenged," Franklin said in a statement. "Academics have always been really, really important for me. Regardless of my amateur or professional status, I know I'm going to end with a degree from Cal."

Franklin, a senior at Regis Jesuit High in suburban Denver, considered swimming collegiately for four years, but her parents advised against it.

"This can pay for your future family," Franklin told The Associated Press last weekend. "This can pay for your kids' school, things that I really have to think about. So that's been the hard part."

McKeever, the U.S. Olympic coach, has created a vibrant postgraduate training environment where some of America's best women swimmers have thrived. Cal senior Caitlin Leverenz, a bronze medalist in London, is expected to join Olympians Natalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer in training after she graduates.

McKeever expects Franklin to fit in perfectly on a team that has won consecutive national titles.

"I've had the opportunity from afar to watch her mature into the young lady she is now, seeing her interact with her teammates and coaches," McKeever said. "The first question I asked her (was), 'You're giving up a lot. What do you want this to look like?' The things she communicated she wanted, those are the same values that are important to me."

Franklin will be joined next school year by top-15 recruits Celina Li of Pleasanton, Kristen Vredeveld and Egypt Olympian Farida Osman.

Franklin won gold medals in the 100- and 200-meter backstrokes and the 400 medley and 800 freestyle relays. She will expand her repertoire in Berkeley, where McKeever hopes the swimmer can improve in the butterfly and breaststroke.

But McKeever and Franklin also plan to develop the person.

"If she earns a degree and broadens her 17-year-old person, she's going to be more marketable and make a bigger difference in the world," McKeever said.

"When taking on someone of this caliber I understand you are taking on more than her day-to-day training."

In the past three months Franklin has appeared on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno, filmed cameos in the upcoming movie "The Internship" and TV drama "Pretty Little Liars."

Franklin said working with McKeever on numerous national teams helped her decision to go to Cal.

"I worked with so many amazing college coaches," Franklin said. "But I always felt a really, really special draw to Teri."

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