Franziska van Almsick's swimming potential was discovered when she was five years old. However, it was not until she was fourteen years old, that van Almsick earned four medals at the 1992 Olympics, gaining silvers in the 200m freestyle, which she lost by only 15 centimetres, and in the medley relay, and bronze medals in the 100m freestyle and in the 4x100m freestyle relay. She also competed in the 100m butterfly and the 50m freestyle.
At the 1994 world championships, van Almsick broke the 8-year-old world record in the 200 free with a time of 1:56.78 that would last until she herself bettered it in 2002.
In the 1996 Olympic final, van Almsick finished second to Claudia Poll of Costa Rica. Four days later, van Almsick swam the leadoff leg for Germany in the 4x200m relay. In Atlanta, she picked up another silver medal in that relay, as well as a bronze in the 4x100m relay, and she finished fifth in the 100m freestyle and sixth in the medley relay.
At the 2000 Sydney Games, van Almsick swan the third leg in the 4x100m relay as Germany missed the medal podium by only 1/100 of a second. After contesting the 200 free and the 200m butterfly, she swam the leadoff leg in the 4x200m relay, earning yet another bronze medal. Finally, she swam the butterfly leg in the medley relay, as Germany placed fourth, only 17 hundredths of a second short of the bronze medal position.
Van Almsick's, career medal total stands at four silver and four bronze. At the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, she added two medals to her tally: a bronze in the 4x200m freestyle relay and another bronze in the 4x100m medley relay. She also finished 4th in the 4x100m freestyle and 5th in the 200m freestyle.