Dana Vollmer Video Interview, U.S. Olympic Swimmer
No other athlete got off to a hotter start at the London Olympics than U.S. swimmer Dana Vollmer. On just the second day of the Olympic events, Vollmer, 24, not only won a gold medal, but also set a world record with a time of 55.98, beating out the previous record of 56.98, which was held by Swedish swimmer Sarah Sjostrom.
Born in Syracuse, New York, and raised in Granbury, Texas, Vollmer may have always been athletically gifted, but what makes her so inspiring is her heart and desire to compete. Under coach Ron Forrest, Vollmer was able to find early success while competing for the Fort Worth Area Swim Team. At age 12, she competed for a spot at the 2000 Olympic trials, despite not making the team. In 2003, her swimming career was put on hold for a while, as Vollmer was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia, which produces a pulse rate of about 240 beats per minute. While recovering, Vollmer resumed her career, qualifying for the 2004 Summer Olympics, where she was a member of the 4x200 meter freestyle relay team that won the gold medal.
Since her heart surgery, Vollmer has stood on top of the swimming world. Her swimming resume includes many career highlights, such as winning a gold medal at the 2007 World Aquatics Championship in the 4x200 meter freestyle, being named the 2009 NCAA Swimmer of the Year, winning four National Titles and playing a big part in leading the University of California to its first NCAA championship. Vollmer also brought home a bronze and silver medal at the 2009 World Championship in Rome. Last summer, at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai, Vollmer brought back three medals — two gold and one silver.
Despite being so caught up in a record-breaking moment, all Vollmer could think about when it was over was her family. “I didn't know where my family was. I was kind of searching. I was thinking about all the work that so many people around me put in and the belief everyone had in me. “ Vollmer told the Star-Telegram.
“There have been so many moments in my career when I didn't know if I could keep going. Just knowing that my family was there for me, pushing me along, I know I wouldn't be here without them.”
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- Q: What were the challenges when you were diagnosed with a heart condition? - Uinterview User
- A: When I was 14, I had to have heart surgery. When I was training, my heart rate kept spiking to around 250 and it would take over five minutes to try to get it to come down. We would sit down, I wouldn’t be doing anything. Being an athlete, I know when I’m pushing my heart rate and when it’s higher than it should be. We went to multiple cardiologists and they determined that I had an extra electrical pathway. My dad always described it to me as kind of an extra sparkplug in an engine, it just makes it rev randomly. They told me it was a simple procedure, they would go in through my femoral artery and cauterize it and I would be fine. So we were like it’s a simple fix, but in the procedure, they determined I had random patterns of Long QT Syndrome, and it’s one of the causes of sudden death in athletes. They informed us that I wouldn’t be able to do any athletics ever again. We had to be concerned about nightmares, about someone scaring me. It was kind of, any adrenaline rush could send my heart into those patterns. But, luckily for me, there was a silver lining. They couldn’t determine that it was sports, when I was doing athletics, that were putting me into those rhythms. So they informed me that if I carried around a defibrillator to all my competitions, to all my practices, they would clear me and allow me to compete. So my mom really had to hold on to that defibrillator and come around and she stayed up multiple nights coming into my room and making sure I didn’t have nightmares and that I was still breathing. It was definitely a really scary time for me and for my family. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that they actually 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, and I can really just focus on performing and swimming and pushing my body to win, hopefully, gold medals.
- Q: What’s your workout regimen in preparation for the Olympics? - Uinterview User
- A: It’s definitely a lot of hours that go into what I’m trying to do in swimming. I train two hours in the morning and three-and-a-half hours in the afternoon. Right now I do doubles of the morning and the afternoon sessions on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and then we have a two-hour session on Saturday. What I’ve really liked about our schedule is that we do get Wednesday completely off and Sunday completely off. It really helps the end of my week be a lot stronger than if I just really pushed hard through the first couple days of the week. But we do a lot of alternative training. I’ve done a lot of my training in the ocean. We do kickboxing, we’ve done ballet, we’ve done step classes and spin classes. It’s not just about being or getting in shape for swimming, it’s about being an overall athlete. I still have to work on my wall, on starts, and that’s just being athletic. So our coach feels that any way we can increase our athletic ability is going to help me perform when I get into the pool. But I really loved ocean training, just a different kind of being in the water and learning how to deal with currents and waves and outside stressers and still being able to use the water and how to move my body through the water, and then, when I go from that into a pool, it’s so calm and seems like it’s full of potential.
- Q: What’s your diet regimen in preparation for the Olympics? - Uinterview User
- A: Diet wise, I actually just found out last year that I’m gluten intolerant and allergic to eggs, so having to take all of that out of my diet definitely took a lot of foods out. But I’ve found so many different foods that I love. Quinoa is one of them. There are so many different kinds of grains. I’ve fallen in love with Venice Bakery Pizza Crust. There’s just tons of different things that have gluten-free foods. I’ll definitely be packing some food with me. I always try to travel with it, and luckily whenever we go to sporting events, they tend to have pretty good array of food for us. But definitely lots of fruit and vegetables and rice and [I] just eat as healthy as I can. But after the games, I love dark chocolate, and I still eat some dark chocolate now. It just makes me happy and I have to. I feel like everything in moderation is fine. And so, after the games, I am looking forward to some dark chocolate. Maybe I’ll bake a dark chocolate raspberry cake or something like that. But definitely dive into some dark chocolate.
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