EXCLUSIVE: U.S. Swimmer Dana Vollmer Breaks Olympic Record, Wins Gold After Battling Heart Condition
U.S. Olympic swimmer Dana Vollmer was so focused on winning gold and breaking the world record in the 100-meter butterfly that she actually lost her cap in the pool. “I’m just so excited right now. I felt good during the first 50... actually lost a swim cap in the pool,” an ecstatic Vollmer told NBC. “It’s in there somewhere. It’s just so exciting about the whole thing.” Vollmer came in at 55.98, becoming the first woman ever to break the 56-second barrier.
When Vollmer touched the wall, there was no doubt that she had won gold, but as she turned to the scoreboard, she was just as eager to make the world record. "It takes me a little bit to able to see the clock, get my goggles unfogged," Vollmer told USA Today. "And it was just absolutely incredible to be there in front of that crowd with my parents and my husband in the stands. It was everything I could have dreamed it would have been.”
Vollmer’s Olympic record is all the more impressive considering that she was diagnosed with a severe heart condition as a teenager — a health scare that led to surgery and required her to have a defibrillator with her at every competition and practice session. In our exclusive interview, Vollmer talks in detail about the symptoms that threatened her athletic career and her life. “It was definitely a really scary time for me and my family,” Vollmer said. “It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that they completely cleared me. They didn’t see any of those symptoms anymore. So now I don’t have to carry around that defibrillator, which is a huge relief. I can really just focus on performing and swimming and pushing my body to win, hopefully, gold medals.”
Vollmer has been trying out various alternative training forms. “It’s not just about getting in shape for swimming; it’s about being an overall athlete,” Vollmer says, revealing that her favorite is ocean training. “I’ve really loved ocean training. Just a different kind of being in the water, learning how to deal with currents and waves and outside stressors… and still being able to use the water and learn how to move my body through the water.”
Watch our exclusive interview with Vollmer to learn more about her health scare, her alternative training regimen, and her guilty food pleasure, which she is looking forward to “diving” (!) into after the Olympics.
Watch our exclusive video here:
For more on the London 2012 Olympics:
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