Seven-time Olympic medalist Dana Vollmer lined up on the starting block 26 weeks pregnant at a USA Swimming meet in Mesa, Ariz., on Friday.
Vollmer raced the 50m freestyle and finished seventh out of seven swimmers in her heat, clocking 27.51 seconds. Her time was 55th out of 83 swimmers overall. Vollmer chose the 50m free as her only race of the meet because she didn’t have to make a flip turn.
“Time didn’t matter,” Vollmer told media in Mesa. “Places didn’t matter. I’ve loved being here. I loved seeing all my teammates, all the people from Rio.”
Vollmer hopes to train through as much of her pregnancy as possible, planning to come back after giving birth to her second boy for a run for her fourth Olympic team in 2020.
She isn’t the first U.S. Olympian to compete this deep into pregnancy. Most notably, 800m runner Alysia Montaño raced while 34 weeks pregnant at the 2014 U.S. Championships.
“Putting the health of the baby first doesn’t mean just sitting on the couch,” Vollmer said. “It’s better for the baby, and it’s better for me to stay active, to stay strong going into labor.”
NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app will stream Mesa finals sessions at 8 p.m. ET on Friday and Saturday. NBCSN will air coverage at 1 a.m. ET on Saturday.
Vollmer said last fall, before she announced her pregnancy, that she hoped to train and compete while pregnant with her second child in 2017.
Vollmer, who is due in July, took 23 months off from competition in 2013, 2014 and 2015, giving birth to baby boy Arlen on March 6, 2015. A year later, she won a medal of every color at the Rio Olympics.
Vollmer wants to spend far less time out of the pool in this pregnancy.
“I’m trying to go into this one staying way more active, staying as strong as I can,” she said. “Trying to go about it to where I’m in the best shape I can be going into labor, and then hopefully after that, it’ll definitely help. I feel like, if I took two years off and was able to come back and make Rio in a year, then I’m glad that I’ll have way more time this next time heading into Tokyo.”
Vollmer’s goal is to return to competition for the U.S. Winter Nationals in December.
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