Dana Vollmer to retire from swimming with five Olympic gold medals

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Dana Vollmer, who came back from childbirth to earn a swimming medal of every color at the Rio Olympics, will compete for the last time at this week’s U.S. Championships.

NBCSN and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA combine to air nightly finals coverage from Wednesday through Sunday in Palo Alto, Calif. Vollmer’s last race is expected to be her trademark 100m butterfly on Friday.

“Over the years, sport and life fully merged, and the dance between sport experience and life
experience enriched me in ways that I appreciate daily,” Vollmer wrote in a letter.” But days only have so many hours, and other parts of my life are asking for my time and attention. This week I am leaving elite level swimming. The 2019 National Championships will be my last swimming competition.”

Vollmer leaves the sport after a decorated 15-year career at the top international level.

After being the youngest swimmer at the 2000 Olympic trials at age 12, she made the 2004 Athens Olympics as a high school sophomore and finished sixth in the 200m freestyle, earning gold as part of the 4x200m free relay.

Vollmer failed to make the 2008 Olympic team but came back to win the 2012 Olympic 100m fly and break the world record in London.

Vollmer then took time off to have son Arlen in March 2015. She returned to make a third Olympics and took 100m fly bronze in Rio, along with another relay gold and silver. She expressed a desire to have another child and go for another Olympics in 2020.

Vollmer raced at 26 weeks pregnant in April 2017, then she and husband Andy Grant welcomed their second son, Ryker, on July 4 of that year. Vollmer returned to competition in November 2018 but has struggled with injury this year.

“There were times in my career when I struggled with body image, anxiety, depression, handling pressure, and navigating my own extreme expectations for myself,” Vollmer wrote. “I’ve torn my ACL, underwent heart surgery, had shoulder tendonitis, herniated a disc in my lower back, and sprained both my AC joints. There were plenty of times I could have walked away from the sport. I’m proud that I did not!”

MORE: Most experienced Olympian in history retires at 72

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