Thank you, Dana Vollmer: Your Legacy is Just Beginning

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Dana Vollmer swam her final race this week at nationals. Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

Dana Vollmer’s last race at the 2019 Phillips 66 U.S. National Championships will always be one to remember. 

This weekend was the last time we would see her execute her pre-race routine, chat with her coach Teri McKeever before heading to the starting blocks, and dive into the water for her last 100 fly. 

As a swimmer at the University of California, Berkeley, I have had the honor to train as a teammate alongside three-time Olympian, Dana Vollmer.

I remember seeing Dana on television several times from my living room growing up. When I was 12 years old, I remember being a basket carrier in the same heats Dana Vollmer swam in at the 2010 U.S. Long Course Nationals in Irvine, California. At that meet, she qualified for the 2010 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships held in Irvine the following week where she won gold in the 100 fly. 

These moments stood out to me the most because Irvine is where I grew up swimming until my time at Cal. Seeing Olympians like Dana and members of the U.S. national team walk on the same pool deck and swim in the same pool as me was so inspiring.

Wearing the same Cal swim cap on my head and having the opportunity to swim in the same pool as Dana was something I never imagined I would be doing.

On July 29, Dana publicly announced her retirement. It was emotional. Before practice started, she told us she had to get out at 8 a.m. to post her retirement letter; she would then get back into the pool and finish the rest of the practice with us. 

Read Dana Vollmer’s retirement letter here.

My teammates and I could always count on Dana to bring light-hearted, positive energy to practice everyday. She knows just what to say when we are having a tough day and her smile is contagious. 

I loved the days when Dana would bring her dog to morning practice. It would make everyone’s day a little brighter to not only see Dana’s smile, but to also be greeted by her dog, Mallie, when we entered the locker room.

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Photo Courtesy: Instagram @dana.vollmer

Dana is the type of person we can always turn to. She gives us new perspectives and things to think about when we swim. Sometimes Dana can explain things in a different way than coach Teri which might help us understand a certain sensation she feels in the water when she swims. I always found it fascinating to watch her experiment with new body movements and positions on land and in the water. Dana focuses a lot on her quality of movement and making sure everything she does to build strength will also keep her body healthy.

In an interview with Swimming World following her final swim, Dana stated: “I want my legacy to be that everything that gets thrown at you — you have the ability to get past it, to succeed.”

This is exactly what I see from Dana. Her resiliency in and out of the water is what makes her so special.

I could talk about Dana’s success in the pool for days, but there’s so much more to her than just her swimming. 

When we hear Dana Vollmer’s name we can’t help but think wow — a mom with a gold medal. Just let that sink in. 

She has proven to be one of the strongest mother’s I know and is raising two beautiful sons: Arlen and Ryker. 

I remember one day when she brought Arlen to practice and he was strapped in his stroller at the end of her lane. He cried when his mom dove into the water. My teammates and I comforted him and soon enough he grew fascinated as he watched his mom swim gracefully lap after lap. 

I look up to Dana beyond just her swimming. I consider her a role model within the swimming community, for other athletes, and for young women and mothers across the world. 

Thank you, Dana.

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