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Rio 2016 Olympic Calympian: Dana Vollmer, Women's Swimming, USA

The 3rd time Olympian and 4x Olympic Gold medalist will seek her first Olympic medal since becoming a mother last year.

Cal alum Dana Vollmer will look to add to her Olympic medals haul at the Rio 2016 games.
Cal alum Dana Vollmer will look to add to her Olympic medals haul at the Rio 2016 games.
Mike Comer/Getty Images

Dana Vollmer

CGB Hall Of Fame

(California Golden Blogs Hall of Fame, Class of 2011 inductee)

Sport: Women's Swimming (100 Fly, 4x100 Free relay, 4x100 Medley relay)

Country: U.S.A.

Twitter: @danavollmer

Birthday: November 13, 1987 (age 28)

Hometown: Granbury, Texas (born in Syracuse, New York)

Cal affiliation: California Golden Bears alum (Anthropology '10)

Years at Cal: 2006 - 2009 (transferred after Freshman year at University of Florida)

Olympic appearances: 2004 Athens (Gold, 4x200 Free relay; 6th, 200 Free), 2012 London (Gold, 100 Fly; Gold, 4x200 Free relay; Gold, 4x100 Medley relay)

CGB 2012 London Olympic profile on Dana Vollmer

Cal Achievements:

Out of the long list of achievement in Dana Vollmer's Cal career, I think the most important one is easily leading the Cal Women's Swimming and Diving team to the program's 1st NCAA team national championship in 2009. The 2009 team National Championship was the first of three in a four year stretch for the Golden Bears. In that special senior season, Vollmer won the Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year, NCAA Swimmer of the Year (based on her success at the NCAA championships), and the Honda Sports Award for Swimming. She was even nominated for the 2009 ESPY for the Best Female Collegiate Athlete (that was won by UConn's women's basketball player, Maya Moore)!

Although she had success as a freshman at the University of Florida, Dana Vollmer did not feel like that was a good fit for her. She transferred to Cal afterward and achieved more in her three years of eligibility than most in four years.

Full list of Dana Vollmer's NCAA National Championships won at Cal:

  • 2007 - 400 Free relay: 3.12.13, Emily Silver, Erin Reilly, Jessica Hardy, Dana Vollmer
  • 2007 - 800 Free relay: 7:00.89, Dana Vollmer, Emily Silver, Blake Hayter, Erin Reilly
  • 2007 - 400 Medley relay: 3:30.18, Lauren Rogers, Jessica Hardy, Dana Vollmer, Emily Silver
  • 2007 - 100 Fly, 50.69
  • 2009 - 400 Free relay: 3:09.88, Hannah Wilson, Liv Jensen, Erica agg, Dana Vollmer
  • 2009 - 800 Free relay: 6:52.69, Sara Isakovic, Hannah Wilson, Liv Jensen, Dana Vollmer
  • 2009 - 100 Free 47.17
  • 2009 - 200 Free 1:42.01
  • 2009 - Team NCAA Championships

Of course, Dana also stayed in Berkeley after the end of her Cal career to train with the Cal post grad group.

International Achievements:

Dana Vollmer was competing in U.S. Olympic Swim Trials at a super young age of 12  in 2000. She was the youngest U.S. competitor at the the 2001 Goodwill Games (remember those? Ted Turner's Olympics games) and won her first medal.

Vollmer then had further International success from the 2003 Pan American games in the 200 Free, 800 Free relay, and 400 medley relay. Still quite young for her age, Vollmer won more races despite a health scare due to a heart condition (more on that below).

A 16 year old Vollmer won the 200 Free at the 2004 Olympic Trials. In the 2004 Athens Games, Vollmer won her first Gold in the record breaking 4x200 Free relay. She set the world record along side Carly Piper, Kaitlin Sandeno, and someone that I you may have heard of, Natalie Coughlin.

While she sustain her International successes between 2004 and 2008, the Olympic Trials in 2008 saw Vollmer just missing out on making the Team USA with a 5th place finish in 100 Fly and 7th in 200 Free (top 6 would make the team). Understandably, she had a tough time dealing with missing out on the Olympic at what was supposed to be the prime of her career. Fortunately, Cal women's head coach Teri McKeever (in a recurring theme for quite a few of the Calympian swimmers) was there to provide support for Dana and encouraged her to take a life changing trip to Fiji to recapture her love for swimming.

By the time that the 2012 London Olympics came around, Dana Vollmer was at the top of her craft. She had the following world record breaking swim in the 100 Fly with a time of 55.98.

Then she also won Gold in both the 4x200 Free relay and the 4x100 medley relay to give her 4 Olympic Gold on her career. The 4x100 medley relay with Calympian Missy Franklin as well as Rebecca Soni and Allison Schmitt was another world record.

Dana Vollmer won Bronze in the 100 Fly and the Gold in the 400 medley relay at the 2013 FINA World Championships in Barcelona. She then took a break (she apparently hated it when there were rumor of that "R" word) from competitive swimming.

More on Dana and her Rio outlook:

Not long after the 2012 London Olympics, Dana Vollmer decided to pause from her swimming lifestyle to pursue a more normal life. However, the 4x Olympic Gold medalist and Cal great could not stay away from the pool for long. Despite not racing for almost two years AND a mere 5 month after giving brith to her son, Arlen, Vollmer was back in the pool to compete in the 2015 Phillips 66 National Championships. Oh yeah, Dana came in 5th in the 100 Fly.

With fresh perspective on life since the birth of her son, Dana Vollmer compete in her 5th Olympic Swimming Trials last month and book a return trip (her 3rd) to the Olympics. Rio 2016 will be special as this is her first one as a mother.

Expect to see plenty of Arlen in the NBC coverage of the Rio games.

*****

Yes, Dana Vollmer's husband went to that school in the South Bay that shall not be named here, but check out the two of them telling the story of how they became a couple in an awkwardly adorable way. The video is from before the 2012 London games.

*****

Being a repeat Olympian and a quite successful one means that there have been a ton of interviews and articles on Dana Vollmer. Vollmer started swimming at a very young age, since her mother is a swim coach.

In her USA Swimming profile, Dana lists Berkeley as her favorite U.S. City.

One of the common story about Dana, and one that will again be repeated in this Olympic, is about her heart condition. Vollmer underwent heart surgery in 2003 to correct a condition called supraventricular tachycardia - basically an elevated heart pulse rate. This was when the doctors also thought that she might have Long QT syndrome where a surge of adrenaline (such as from racing) may stop her heart. Even though further testing didn't show much risk, in order for her doctors to allow her to compete in swimming, Dana's family purchased a portable defibrillator (since those things and the pool typically don't mix) and have that nearby during the competitions. In a related news, Dana Vollmer is an abassador for the American Heart Association. She actually did a TEDxSanJoseCA talk about her heart. It is a very nice and inspirational story.

Finally, one more reason why we love Dana Vollmer? She dressed up as Harley Quinn, in the classic jester costume from the Batman, the Animated Series, last Halloween before everybody does it in all of the comic cons this summer.

While a 2nd place finish in the Olympic Trials was disappointing by Dana Vollmer's standard, she earned the chance to defend her Gold from London in that event. Even if she somehow does not medal in the 100 Fly, expect her to add to her Olympic medal haul from the 4x200 Free relay and likely the 4x100 medley relay (although she might only get to swim the heat, which is still a medal, there).

Good luck to Dana in Rio and GO BEARS!