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Golden Nuggets: Dana Vollmer Puts 2008 Behind Her and Triumphs in the Pool

After suffering setback after setback and missing out on the chance to qualify for the U.S. team in 2008, Dana Vollmer was out for redemption when she hit the pool this week. With help from coach Teri McKeever, Vollmer put the past behind her and booked a trip to London.

The place was here, the CenturyLink Center, site of the 2008 Olympic Swim Trials that Vollmer turned into an exercise in self-destruction. A 2004 Olympian expected to have a big presence in Beijing in 2008, Vollmer instead whiffed. She finished fifth in the 100-meter butterfly, seventh in the 200 freestyle and didn’t even make the finals of the 50 and 100 free.

She even flinched on the starting block at the beginning of one race, a mistake normally made by nerve-addled rookies.

The feeling she had that miserable, pressurized week: "Doom."

So coming back to the pool that bedeviled her, Vollmer and her coach, California’s Teri McKeever, basically performed an exorcism on the place. They walked around it like they’d never been here before, getting introduced to it for the first time. When it was time to get in the water, Vollmer opted to "un-intensify the pool" by doing some off-the-wall stuff first: underwater swims, jumps, even some handstands in the warm-up pool with a teammate.

"I was realizing and telling myself I am in such a different place now, and when I think about myself and how I feel in the water, I was confident in what I could do," Vollmer said. "I just had to keep my mind off of how I felt in 2008 and just focus on where I am now."

Where she is now is booked for London. Tuesday night, Vollmer completed her Omaha exorcism with an emphatic victory in the 100 fly. After a confidence-building American record swim in the event in the semifinals Monday, Vollmer missed that mark by just .08 Tuesday in winning by the chasm of 1.07 seconds over Claire Donahue of Western Kentucky University.

Are you watching the NBA Draft tonight? Keep an eye out in the second round in case someone decides to draft Jorge (I'm talking to you, Greg Popovich). More delicious links after the jump.