Dana Vollmer

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Dana Vollmer ‘at peace’ with final career swim at U.S. Championships

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Dana Vollmer wanted to dive in and enjoy the water at a swim meet one last time. The 2012 Olympic 100m butterfly champion retired following her first-round heat at the U.S. Championships in Palo Alto, Calif., on Friday.

Vollmer, who came back from childbirth to earn a medal of every color in Rio, announced on Monday that this week’s nationals would be her last meet at age 31. She clocked 59.94 seconds to place 32nd after missing training time this season with a shoulder injury.

“I’m at peace,” said Vollmer, who had her second son, Ryker, on July 4, 2017. “To walk up behind the blocks and remember the nerves in my stomach and how I shake out and getting on the blocks, just knowing it’s your last one, getting to absorb all of that, it’s a really special moment.”

Vollmer made a career of overcoming obstacles, from heart surgery before making her first Olympic team at age 16 to missing the 2008 Olympic team to becoming the first U.S. mom to earn an Olympic swimming gold medal in Rio.

“I’ve searched a lot of different areas, and I’m really satisfied with what I’ve done in the sport,” she said. “USA Swimming is so incredibly competitive to get on the team. I mean, you have to want it with your entire heart, and I kept finding that I wanted to be doing other things.”

MORE: U.S. Swimming Champs TV Schedule

In other events Friday, Maxime Rooney made waves in the morning heats by becoming the second-fastest 100m butterflier in the world this year.

His 50.68 would have earned silver behind world-record breaker Caeleb Dressel at last week’s world championships. Rooney went .41 slower in the evening final but still won by .61 over Olympian Jack Conger.

Dressel, originally entered in this meet after an exhausting, six-gold-medal worlds, scratched for a third straight day.

Olympian Kelsi Dahlia earned the women’s 100m fly title in 57.35, which was .24 slower than her sixth-place time from worlds.

Emma Weyant, 17, chopped 5.17 seconds off her personal best to win the 400m individual medley in 4:35.47, making her the world’s fifth-fastest woman and the fastest U.S. woman this year. The U.S. has an opening in the event after missing the medals at the last two worlds.

Bobby Finke overtook 17-year-old Carson Foster to earn the men’s 400m IM, two days after he won the 1500m freestyle. Finke, 19, clocked a personal-best 4:13.15, which would have placed fourth at worlds. The field lacked Olympic silver medalist Chase Kalisz and world silver medalist Jay Litherland.

MORE: Ryan Lochte, after rehab for alcohol addiction, says he’s a better man

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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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Dana Vollmer swims first final since having second baby

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Dana Vollmer finished fourth in her first final since the Rio Olympics and her second childbirth, swimming her trademark 100m butterfly at the winter nationals in Greensboro, N.C., on Friday night.

Vollmer, a 31-year-old, five-time Olympic champion, clocked 59.38 seconds to finish 1.58 seconds behind winner Amanda Kendall.

Vollmer returned from having son Arlen in March 2015 to make her third Olympic team in Rio. She’s now going for a fourth Olympics after welcoming her second son, Ryker, on July 4, 2017.

She raced at two other meets since Rio, swimming a 50m freestyle while 26 weeks pregnant last year and a 50m free and a 50m fly last January. We now know where she stands in the 100m butterfly, which she won at the 2012 Olympics.

Vollmer’s 59.38 ranks 24th in the U.S. this year. She has 18 months to improve until the Olympic Trials, where it will likely require a time in the low 57s to qualify for Tokyo. At this point in the last Olympic cycle, Vollmer was six months pregnant.

WINTER NATS: Full Results | TV Schedule

In other events Friday, Katie Ledecky topped fellow Olympic gold medalist and Stanford training partner Simone Manuel by 2.6 seconds in the 200m freestyle, clocking 1:55.32. While Ledecky is Olympic champion in the event, Manuel focuses on the 50m and 100m frees.

Ledecky hasn’t lost a 200m free to another American in nearly five years, but she took second at the 2017 Worlds and third at August’s Pan Pacific Championships. A showdown with Canadian Taylor Ruck and Japanese Rikako Ikee at July’s worlds will be much anticipated.

Ledecky and Manuel will match up again in the 100m free on Saturday, the final day of nationals, streaming on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app at 5 p.m. ET.

Olympians Jacob Pebley (200m free) Kylie Masse (100m back), Micah Sumrall (100m breaststroke) and Jay Litherland (400m individual medley) also won Friday.

MORE: U.S. breaststroke hope tasked with ending 28-year Olympic drought

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