Dana Vollmer Preparing for a New Baby Boy and Tokyo 2020

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Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

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By David Rieder.

Dana Vollmer climbed out of the pool, lifting herself into a sitting position instead of onto her knees or feet. Walking off the deck, she wasn’t sure what her time was. She had just swam the 50 free in prelims at the Arena Pro Swim Series in Mesa, but unlike almost every other race she’d ever done, the time was of little importance.

When asked what the time meant to her, Vollmer replied simply, “I have no idea.”

“I had no idea what I’d go,” she said. “But time didn’t matter, and place didn’t matter. I’ve loved being here. I’ve loved seeing all my teammates, all the people from Rio. The nerves of doing my modified pre-race routine and warm-up. The race felt great.”

Indeed, the race was her first since the Olympic Games, since she joined three swimmers eight to nine years her junior to capture Olympic gold in the 400 medley relay.

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Photo Courtesy: USA TODAY Sports

When the Olympics were over, she and husband Andy Grant decided to add to their family of three, which already includes two-year-old Arlen. Even so, she couldn’t stop the urge to get back in the racing pool, announcing at the end of March that she was headed to Mesa for a quick one-lapper.

Vollmer kept the sex of her new baby a secret until she swam her prelims race in Mesa. She had announced she would make the revelation based on what color racing suit she wore—pink for a girl and green for a boy. She wore green.

“Having a boy!” she said. “We’re excited. Arlen will have a baby brother. Andy has a big brother, and they’re super close. I have a big brother. We were kind of hoping for a girl, but maybe we’ll have three.”

Hang on a second. Did Vollmer really put on a skin-tight kneeskin designed for compression while six months pregnant? Well, yes, she did—but only after taking some extra precautions.

She typically races in a size 26 suit, but TYR gave her suits sized 28, 30 and 32 to try on for her Mesa race. To be safe, Vollmer chose the 32.

“I never thought that I would put a tech suit on when I was pregnant,” she said. “Honestly, it feels fine. It kind of holds everything in. We had to go up a few sizes to fit the belly, so the top of this is pretty big. But it’s not like the race is coming down to hundredths of anything. I just wanted a suit that was comfortable and fit my belly. It’s working.”

Once she got the suit on, she had to race down the pool. She entered a seed time of 26.00, nowhere close to the 24.69 she swam to finish second in the event at the same meet last year.

As it turned out, Vollmer could not quite keep up with her heat, finishing in 27.59 to place 55th overall. And for the first time in her life, she explained, a 50-meter race felt long.

“I’ve just been super out-of-breath,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever done a 50 where I’ve taken four or five breaths. But it felt good.”

Her training, she explained, had been far from the norm. She had yet to swim all-out for anything more than a short burst, although she had kept up a modified version of her usual strength training routine.

Quite the opposite from her first pregnancy. At that point in her life, Vollmer believed she was done with the sport altogether. It was not until she spent several weeks on bedrest that she felt motivated to get back in the water for the first time in almost two years.

After Arlen was born, though, Vollmer soon found herself back with Teri McKeever’s training group at Cal, and that comeback culminated with three Olympic medals in Rio, one of each color.

But this time, Vollmer has no intention of retirement. She has set a goal of resuming her full event program as soon as Winter Nationals this coming December, even if she’s not all the way back to top form, and she hopes to be back wearing an American flag cap in the summer of 2018 at the Pan Pacific Championships.

Vollmer has already swum at three Olympics (2004, 2012 and 2016), and she has every intention of making Tokyo her fourth. Unlike four years ago, when she retired after the World Championships in Barcelona, she sees no reason to stop.

“I think I found a better balance in life,” she said. “Swimming became my balance, my escape. It became my ‘me-time,’ a chance for me to be with my teammates again and listen to whatever music I wanted to in the car. The pressure was taken off it. Just really, really loving it again.

“People have said, ‘You have accomplished everything can in the sport. Why aren’t you retiring?’ It’s not about medals. It’s not about world records. It’s the fact that I love the pool, I love my schedule, and I love being with my teammates. Everyone tries to fit working out into their daily life. If I can fit it in when it works for my family and stay at this level, why would I not try to do that?”

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13 comments

  1. avatar
    Leander

    Going to take her son a long time to set another PR in the 50.

  2. Sara Stacy

    Elizabeth Taylor read this she is now 6 months pregnant

    • Sara Stacy

      Lol i might have done a 37.5

    • Elizabeth Taylor

      Would have had to have had an early race so you could go home to bed

    • Sara Stacy

      Yeh. None of this 10pm business

    • Kirsten Nota

      Haha craziness!!! She had to go up to a 32… I wish!!!

  3. Nicole Bel Puma

    Jonna Waller those are impressive times considering she’s got a little Klingon. Amazing!!

    • Jonna Waller

      It’s “Mamma on a Mission”!

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