PHOENIX, Arizona, April 13. WORLD champion Dana Vollmer joins today's edition of The Morning Swim Show to discuss her recent training trip to Australia.
Vollmer talks about the goal of working with Milt Nelms in Australia and how swimming in the tall waves off the Australian coast could help her butterfly and freestyle. She also talks about the health issues that plagued her as a teenager, as well as the food allergies she discovered. And as a newlywed, she talks about how her husband, Andy Grant, has helped put her life in perspective. Be sure to visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.
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Peter Busch: This is the Morning Swim Show for Friday, April 13, 2012. I am your host Peter Busch. In the FINIS Monitor today we talk to Dana Vollmer. She is the reigning world champ in the 100 butterfly and Dana joins us right now in the FINIS Monitor from Richmond California. Dana welcome back to the Morning Swim Show, how you have been?
Dana Vollmer: Great, great, thanks. Thanks for having me.
Peter Busch: It is a pleasure to have you back, so you just returned from Australia I hear?
Dana Vollmer: I did. I was down in Tasmania training for a month.
Peter Busch: Training working on what?
Dana Vollmer: I have a training in ocean mainly working in the waves and we did a lot of sprint stuff a lot of technique stuff. I was down there working with Milt Nelms, he has worked with Ian Thorpe just really working on my connection with the water and my speed and just really trying to figure out any ways that I can get faster right now.
Peter Busch: Now, why training in the ocean?
Dana Vollmer: I feel like it is such a different environment than being in the pool. It is like, you have waves crashing on you from all sides. I do a lot of — if you catch a wave and you have to have so much body energy to catch a wave in the first place because there were about like 8-foot waves sometimes that we were catching and then staying in that wave and then working on my butterfly, not only do not fall out of the wave but actually learn how to use that energy in the water and going from being able to work out my butterfly in an environment like that that the pool just seems so calm.
Peter Busch: This is certainly out of the box thinking.
Dana Vollmer: Yeah, Teri McKeever has had us working in the ocean ever since I came to Cal and we take a lot of team trips to the ocean and I just I think it is really, really powerful for learning how to work with the water, learning how to get the most speed that you can. I think it has really helped my underwaters and my turns. And she introduced me to Milt Nelms and this is my third time to go over to Australia to train with him.
Peter Busch: Wow. Well it is certainly working.
Dana Vollmer: Yeah.
Peter Busch: I mean, you went 56.4 last summer.
Dana Vollmer: Yeah, my butterfly feels completely different. I think before it was– I was thinking more about power and it is not about rhythm but more about how much I could get out of my legs and how I can make my arms better and through working the wave. I figured out how to use the buoyancy of my body how to be more efficient with all the movements that I do and so when I am swimming my race kind of everything I am thinking about is every effort that I am putting for us should be making me going forward and I think being in the ocean, you can really feel if you do something that hurts your momentum going forward because you will be out of the waves so fast and so really learning how to do that I think has made my butterfly a lot easier, and has really helped the back half of my races.
Peter Busch: Does it help with freestyle as well?
Dana Vollmer: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I mean there are so many parts of freestyle where you know you could be losing hold on the water or not getting much out of it as you could, and so the same thing that I described with catching the wave in doing butterfly you can do the same thing with freestyle as well.
Peter Busch: Hmm.Well Sarah Sj?str?m is probably watching this interview thinking where can I find an ocean.
Dana Vollmer: Better not steal my tricks.
Peter Busch: Speaking of Sarah, she is swimming pretty well lately too. It is looking more and more like it is going to be a fun 100 fly race this summer.
Dana Vollmer: Yeah, I definitely was watching her swims and she is having a lot of good races and she is someone that I enjoy being around. I definitely want to beat her. You know first and foremost I have got to get myself on the team, preparing the best that I can going to Trials and then hopefully it will be a great race between the two of us.
Peter Busch: Okay let's talk about health a little bit. We heard that you had some food allergies last year or you discovered what they were last year and they may have been affecting your training?
Dana Vollmer: Yeah, I have had stomach aches forever and I just did always taking a back seat to injuries that I have had. I have had you know a bad back injury and shoulder tendonitis and different things and so I never really wanted to complain about “Oh I have a stomachache,” and once we got all my injuries healed that really became the biggest thing that I could take care of and discovering that I am really sensitive to gluten and really sensitive to eggs and taking them out of my diet. I had before I had felt like I would do a hard workout and I could have a great workout on like Monday and Tuesday coming of off a weekend of rest and my body just wasn't recovering. I would go into my next workout on Wednesday feeling like I have just gotten finished with my Tuesday workout and taking out the gluten, I feel like I have so much more energy. I don't have headaches anymore. My body feels like it really actually uses the food that I put into it. There are so many times where I would eat a big meal because I know I needed fuel and then I will –just my stomach would just hurt so bad afterwards and it was hard for me growing up because you know you are trying to be healthy, and so in the morning I would eat scrambled eggs and you snack on crackers and different things throughout the day and back in the day when carbo-loading was such a big thing before meets I would always go and have a huge bowl of spaghetti, and to find out that those things were hurting me so much and taking them out of my diet I recover. My body feels better. I have more energy going into all my races.
Peter Busch: Is that– it is one thing when you are at home when you can prepare your meals, but when you go on trips especially when you are like with a team and everybody is kind of eating the same food how do you make sure that you get the diet that you need?
Dana Vollmer: I definitely bring a lot of food with me. I pack my own bars. I bring — for worlds this summer U.S.A. Swimming was fantastic and they were able to ship boxes food that I cooked here myself and so I had my gluten free oatmeal and different things ready for me at Shanghai so that I could have that and not have to worry about accidentally eating foods that are going to upset my stomach to traveling foods has definitely helped but it is pretty easy to get rice and chicken and vegetables and most of the time USA Swimming asks for things to be kind of plain so they don't have the sauces and different things like that or at least it is on the side. And so when we travel around it hasn't been as bad when I am on national team trips and if it is just me going with the Cal team, then I will make sure and bring a lot of my own food.
Peter Busch: How is your heart?
Dana Vollmer: The heart. The heart has been great. I haven't had any problems with it. I love getting to do speaking events for the American Heart Association and get to share my story that way and actually on April 20th there is a Go Red for Women event in San Francisco that I get to be the keynote speaker and they flew with my mom out and so this will be the first time and my mom gets to be there and speak with me as well.
Peter Busch: Well that is nice one of the over dramatic but I mean if some people maybe didn't know you are supposed to have a defibrillator pool side when you swim just in case. Is that still true?
Dana Vollmer: Not anymore.
Peter Busch: Okay, not anymore.
Dana Vollmer: When I'm 14 yeah they said I had patterns of lung QT so my heart could just not beat again and resulting in sudden death and so they told us I had to have a defibrillator with me at all times whenever I was working out and you know I was a liability when I first went to school and had to have a lot more test done that I could compete for college. Had to have a defibrillator with me all the time, and luckily when I came to Cal we did a couple more 24-hour monitors, saw a couple of different cardiologists and they completely cleared me, so I no longer have to worry about it or carry a defibrillator around with me.
Peter Busch: Well that is good. Well speaking of when you were younger in 2000 you're 12 years old, you are the youngest swimmer at the Olympic trials, right?
Dana Vollmer: Yes.
Peter Busch: My question is can you look back and say that being there definitively helped you going forward because it kind of goes to the bigger question, the debate about trials. Are there too many people who are allowed to come to Olympic trials and which makes you have to wait until, you know, heat 15 to swim.
Dana Vollmer: Yeah. You know I think in 2012 I think it helps me being there going into 2004 just because I kind of knew what to expect but I also feel like I could have gone into 2004 with the excitement of Trials and how well that meet is wrong and what if it had just as good of a meet. It is hard to know that going into this year's trials there is like 2,000 people there and while I think it is a great experience for swimmers and I think it is a great goal that people have really wanting to go to the Olympic trials. The issue comes up for me with warm down space, warm up space, pool deck space, seating for the athletes. It just gets so crowded that you know we still want our top athletes and whoever happens to make the team to be able to get the warm up that they need and prepare for how they need and if we have so many people there, that is hard to do.
Peter Busch: Yeah I think they are going to tighten up the standards for 2016. I think they are going to make it a little more difficult to make the meet. In 2004 you did make the team. You were young and you were just 16 at that time. I ask this question with Missy Franklin in mind: what was it like you are the teenager you are on the team and they are naturally some big name college coaches also on the Olympic staff. Do you imagine Missy is going to, is this going to be kind of a recruiting trip if she makes the team going to London?
Dana Vollmer: I think it is a great opportunity for her to just really get to feel different coaches, coaching styles being able to work with Teri or to work with Jack in Shanghai and just really get to be around the coaches. I think that that is an opportunity for her that a lot of athletes don't have. A lot of athletes just get to go on a recruiting trip or interact with the coaches on phone calls, but I think it will be a good time for her to really feel out different people's coaching styles and she is such an amazing athlete and I am so glad that she wants to go to go to school because I just think it is an experience that you can't replace. It is being a part of a team — it changes how I view national team relays. Those are my favorite part of meets are being a part of those relays and having the pride of representing your school and standing up there and having to race in multiple dual meets throughout the year and having to be fast even when you feel horrible and so I'm really, really glad that she wants to go to school and not turn professional yet and, you know. But I think it is a good opportunity for her just to really get to feel out where she wants to go.
Peter Busch: Well, and this summer she is certainly helping your chances of having a gold medal from a re-layer too and to your arenal, right?
Dana Vollmer: Yeah, definitely. I mean she is such a power house and you know but looking ahead to tTials I am doing the most that I can to get my hand on the wall before hers. It is fine that she is on a relay with me but you know there is only two spots and so everyone is fighting for them.
Peter Busch: Hey you wouldn't be a great swimmer if you didn't think that way, Dana. You will go toe-to-toe with her in a couple of events that is for sure. Hey, how is married life? We haven't spoken to you since you and Andy tied the knot.
Dana Vollmer: Yeah, it is amazing I absolutely love it. He is back swimming again as well so he gets up every morning and we have been traveling around. He actually came to Australia with me for the month and having him there it was the first time that he had ever trained in the ocean and I really like having different people's views in the ocean as well, because he had never done it and it was a bonding experience for us. He, you know, didn't have to go to work and so we just really got to be together and I wanted him to share with me in that part of my life and going to my trips to Australia and we just got an English bulldog puppy as well. She is 8 months now and her name is Mali and it is just it is an amazing feeling to be able to know that no matter how I swim, I have the love of my life standing next to me all the time and he doesn't care if I win or if I get last and it just it has really been on good way of taking pressure off of myself and looking forward to life after I am done swimming and it is just it is — yeah I am so happy.
Peter Busch: I was going to say it seems like you are in a good spot right now in your life. We are happy for you.
Dana Vollmer: Thank you.
Peter Busch: Well Dana thank, you so much for joining us I have a feeling we will be talking more about you in the next few months.
Dana Vollmer: Hopefully.
Peter Busch: Good luck this summer.
Dana Vollmer: Thank you.
Peter Busch: That is Dana Vollmer joining us in the FINIS Monitor today from her home in California and that is it for today's show I am Peter Busch reminding you to keep your head down at the finish.
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