London’s Calling: Dana Vollmer and Caitlin Leverenz

TEMPE, Arizona, July 20. UNIVERSITY of California Berkeley head women's coach Teri McKeever should be proud of the incredible athletes that continue to come out of her program. Today, in Swimming World's newest installment of London's Calling, we take a look at two Cal swimmers who will represent Team USA in London.

Oh, yeah, it's also officially a week out from the Olympics! Feel free to express your enthusiasm as you see fit.

Dana Vollmer:

Due to NBC rights holder restrictions, the following video interview is only viewable until 7/27/2012:

24-year-old Dana Vollmer was half her current age when she made her first USA Olympic Trials appearance in 2000. Twelve years, and an Olympic Gold later, Vollmer is set to make her mark in the London Olympics.

At her first Olympics in 2004, Vollmer was younger than the 17-year-old World Record her 4×200 freestyle relay team broke when they won Gold. Unfortunately, she failed to qualify for the following Olympics in 2008.

“In 2008 I was such a nervous wreck,” Vollmer told the media at Trials. “I got to enjoy [Trials] a lot more this time around. ”

It must have been enjoyable, considering she won the 100 butterfly and placed third in the 200 freestyle, behind Allison Schmitt and Missy Franklin, earning a spot on the women's 4×200 freestyle relay in London.

Vollmer started her swimming career under Ron Forest at the Fort Worth Area Swim Team (FAST). She originally attended the University of Florida before transferring to UC Berkeley with Teri McKeever. While with the Golden Bears, she was the 2009 NCAA and PAC-10 Swimmer of the Year, winning four national titles and helping Cal to its first NCAA Championship.

2009 was a big year for Vollmer, as she also set her first American Record in the 200 freestyle, a mark previously held by Natalie Coughlin.

With American Records already to her name, could a World Record be next for Vollmer? In the semifinals of the 100 butterfly, she lowered her own American Record by a couple hundredths and was less than half a second off the current World Record. At the 50, she was ahead of World Record pace.

In post-race interviews, a woman with Australian media told Vollmer “…you're scaring us with that time,” in reference to competition she will bring to the Olympics for the Australian women.

“First and foremost, I just wanted to get my hand on the wall and get on the [Olympic] team.” Vollmer said. “Especially after not making the team in 2008… Yes, a world record is definitely in mind.”

The current World Record is held by Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom at a 56.06. Vollmer said she hopes to post a 55. If she does, it may mean becoming the fastest female 100 butterflier in history.

Caitlin Leverenz:

Due to NBC rights holder restrictions, the following video interview is only viewable until 7/27/2012:

In 2008, Caitlin Leverenz barely missed the Olympic team when she placed third in the 200 breaststroke. In 2012, she certainly made sure it didn't happen again.

Although Elizabeth Beisel took first in the 400IM, Leverenz captured second by a remarkable margin, leaving open water for the third-place finisher, who touched over four seconds behind.

“I was ready to do this and ready to go,” Leverenz said post-race. “I remember in 2008, I was in the lane next to Elizabeth and was telling her congratulations [for making the Olympics]…. This year we were both telling each other congratulations.”

Following her Trials silver in the 400IM, Leverenz added another event to her Olympic line-up by finishing first in the 200IM.

When asked about the way she handles meets with multiple events, Leverenz responded that she is “…used to swimming those college meets where you swim multiple events a day.”

After the Olympics, Leverenz will have another year to swim collegiately. She'll be headed into her senior year at Cal, under head women's coach Teri McKeever.

Already Leverenz has been wildly successful at the collegiate level. At the 2011 NCAA Championships, she helped set a new American and NCAA record as part of the winning 200 medley relay. She also won bronze individually in the 200 breaststroke.

The following year, in 2012, she upped the ante by taking home four NCAA titles, in the 200IM, 200 breaststroke, and 200 and 400 medley relays. In the 400IM, she placed second. Perhaps for good measure, she also won the NCAA Swimmer of the Meet.

In London, Leverenz has her best shot at gold in the 200IM. The current World Record in this event is held by teammate Ariana Kukors, who placed second in the 200IM to Leverenz at Trials.

Read the rest of the “London's Calling” Series by clicking on the link below:
London's Calling: Swimming World's Countdown to the Opening Ceremonies

Written and posted by Shoshanna Rutemiller

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