Dana Vollmer pulled off the remarkable in Rio, earning a medal of every color, 17 months after childbirth. The butterfly swimmer wants to have another baby and return to competition again, and she’s preparing differently this time.
Vollmer has talked with her swimsuit maker, Tyr, about designing a suit for whatever size belly she has if and when she is pregnant. The goal is sooner rather than later.
“I didn’t swim at all with [baby boy] Arlen, so I’m hoping to be able to train through more of the pregnancy, hopefully,” Vollmer said last month. “Last time I was on bedrest. Really hoping that doesn’t happen.”
The seven-time Olympic medalist could even see a scenario where she competes in the early stages of pregnancy. Perhaps in 2017.
In the last Olympic cycle, Vollmer competed in the season after the London Olympics. Then she took 23 months off from competition before returning 13 months before the Rio Games.
“This time, if we get pregnant soon, then I’ll have more time than I had leading up to Rio,” Vollmer said. “I do feel like that I kind of ran out of time. I could have been faster in Rio. It’s part of what motivates me to continue swimming right now. I still feel like I have a faster swim in me.”
Vollmer was plenty fast in 2016, regaining her form as the fastest American in the 100m butterfly and posting the top 100m freestyle time in the country for the year going into the Olympic Trials.
In Rio, she took bronze in the 100m butterfly, silver as part of the 4x100m freestyle relay and gold with the 4x100m medley relay.
The 100m fly is her signature event.
At the 2012 Olympics, Vollmer broke Sarah Sjöström‘s world record in the 100m fly final and won gold.
In Rio, Sjöström broke the world record in the 100m butterfly and won gold. Vollmer, beaten by a gaping 1.15 seconds, then joked to her Swedish rival.
“Next is my turn,” Vollmer said, hinting at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Vollmer laughed about that comment in an interview last month.
“I would have liked to be a little closer to her to give her a little more of a scare for the gold medal,” she said. “For her to go as fast as she did [a half-second better than Vollmer’s personal best] was insane.”
Vollmer will be 32 come 2020, which is older than any previous U.S. Olympic female swimmer save Dara Torres, who raced at Sydney 2000 at age 33 and Beijing 2008 at 41.
Vollmer has been touched by words from other moms at playdates in the park this fall. They say she inspired them to believe they can achieve a life balance of being a mom while also pursuing their own self-interests, particiularly in physical fitness.
It could be just the start, especially if a pregnant Vollmer suits up for meets in the next year or so.
“I don’t know what my ‘fly would look like, and I don’t know how slow it might be,” she said. “It would be more about getting in and having fun racing a 100 fly.”Follow @nzaccardi