By Greg Echlin//Contributor | Saturday, August 3, 2019
Palo Alto, Cal. – Dana Vollmer's final race in the 100M butterfly at the Phillips 66 USA Swimming National Championships wasn't quite what she anticipated before retirement. But, despite being unable to advance to the evening swim, Vollmer leaves the sport satisfied with her effort.
"I think, getting out of the pool, I had a to take a moment, 'Wait, is this real?' said Vollmer, a seven time Olympic medalist, a few hours later, after her last race had sunk in.
Vollmer, 31, had family and friends who had traveled from nearby and her hometown of Granbury, Texas, with the knowledge that this was it, her final competitive race. But Vollmer's day was cut short after posting a 59.94 in her heat. Instead, before the evening's finals began, she went home to nearby Danville, Cal., to plunge full-time into her next phase of life.
"I put a lot of thought into this. I got to stand on those blocks and really take it all in," said Vollmer. "I will remember this last race for the rest of my life and the family that I had standing right above me in their little section."
Vollmer said she eased herself into training slowly after Ryker, her second son, was born two years ago. Then she mapped out her schedule that balanced swimming with family life.
"I tried to fit in all my training in the morning," she said. "I would get up before the kids were even awake. I did two hours in the pool and then I would go back and do an hour to two hours of strength training."
Vollmer's only stop on the TYR Pro Swim Series was in Knoxville, Tenn., last January where she made the finals in the 50 and 100M fly and finished sixth in both. Kelsi Dahlia won the 100 fly with Regan Smith, who had not turned 17 yet, finishing fifth. Vollmer was the oldest swimmer in each final.
Dahlia won the 100 fly final at the U.S. championships. Afterward she recalled the impact that Vollmer had on her career.
"She (Vollmer) showed me the way in Rio for my first Olympics," said Dahlia. "I'm really proud of her and what she's done for butterfly. I'm hoping to continue the trend with the U.S. fly next year."
Going into the U.S. nationals, Vollmer felt as ready as she could be. "Physically, I felt still felt strong," Vollmer said.
Mentally, she's in a better place now.