"I watched the replay twice," she says. "I've never watched it since. I didn't want to see it."
A curious thing happened, though, with the second-place finish. She became a star. Not a star throughout the world, perhaps, but a German star. A unified German star. Adding another silver and another bronze in relay races, she came home with Tour medals and discovered that her life had changed forever.
This was the first German Summer Olympics team since reunification, and national divisions still existed. Athletes were Ossis or Wessis, Hast or West, their former colors still attached to their present deeds. She was neither. She was too young for past allegiances. She simply was "Franzi," German, everyone's favorite swimmer.
"It was a lucky time for her," her manager. Werner Köster, says. "One fact that was very important was that she came from Berlin. The Berlin accent, East or West, is no different. If she had come from some other part of the East, from Dresden or Leipzig, she would have been recognizable through her accent, and who knows what would have happened. Here? She was just German."
"I was from the East," Franzi says, "and I had a big mouth. People liked that."
She spoke her mind. She made people laugh. She was young and fashion-magazine beautiful. Franzi! Germany had been waiting for her, or at least for someone like her. She was part of the healing.
"So Boris Becker told me I could get my driver's license, no problem, in the U.S.," Franzi says. "In Germany you have to be 18, but in the U.S., it is 16. Boris got his license in the U.S. So I went for the test in Florida and there is one thing Boris forgot to tell me...it's all in English! My English was not very good. The written part, I just guessed answers. I flunked. The driving part, I flunked also. I he instructor would give me directions in English. I didn't know what he was talking about. I went through a stop sign."
"I met an old man one day on the street in Berlin," she says. "He said I looked an awful lot like Franzi. I told him other people had told me that, but, no, I was not Franzi. We talked for a while about Franzi. He said he liked Franzi. I said I liked her too."