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article imageChatting with Dana Vollmer: Olympic gold medalist swimmer Special

By Markos Papadatos     Jul 23, 2020 in Sports
Olympic gold medalist and retired competitive swimmer Dana Vollmer chatted with Digital Journal's Markos Papadatos while quarantined during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"My family is all healthy," she said about life during quarantine. "I am very thankful that we are all healthy," she said.
She won a total of seven Olympic medals for Team USA, five of which were gold. "It was absolutely incredible to stand on the highest podium, and have the U.S. flag be raised. The actual medal is the result of years of hard work and sacrifices, as well as highs and lows. You are there reflecting on all the obstacles that you were able to overcome and all the family commitments. I experienced all of those emotions while I was standing on the podium," she said.
Vollmer listed the butterfly as her personal favorite stroke in swimming. "To me, it's about grace, balance and physics (how you move). It's not just power as most people think about butterfly," she explained.
On her daily motivations (prior to her retirement as a competitive swimmer), she said, "Ultimately, I always believed that I could go faster. I knew there was a faster way to move. It was competitiveness for myself. I was looking for better ways to eat and healthier ways to recover and sleep. Also, body mechanics, and I was driven by everything that goes into elite level performance."
For young and aspiring swimmers, she encouraged them to do the following: "Find what you love about the sport and figure out how that drives you." "That's what is exciting," she admitted. "I know the sport is going to continue to get faster. Don't just copy what I do, figure out what works for you because the younger generation is going to go faster than I ever did."
Regarding the impact of technology on the sport of swimming, she said, "We are just learning so much more about how to move in the water and how to be efficient. We would use technology tools going into training, such as seeing the different elements of my stroke and which areas I needed to focus on before my next race. Video analysis and stroke analysis were helpful, and to really see the sport evolve is just fascinating. It is neat to see the technology coming about."
She had nothing but kind words about Josh Davis and being a part of his Breakout Swim Clinic. "I have done his swim clinics for almost two decades. Josh Davis came to my club team when I was 13 years old, and I loved racing him and tying him in that swim race. I love the fun and the excitement of swim clinics," she said.
"Josh Davis was one of my biggest inspirations in wanting to be a better speaker as well. The energy that he brings to a clinic and the way he tells his stories and the reflections that he has in his career is just really inspiring to see how motivational he is when he comes to a team," she added. "I am working on a new speech called 'Unraveling Superwoman'."
When asked about the commonalities that she sees among champions, she noted that "it's not about the medals." "Most Olympians that I have talked to are champions in any sport and it's not about the medal. That's part of it, obviously, but the love has to come from so much more," she said. "Nobody does this on their own, we all have amazing support systems, and you have to actively find that. Every champion I talk to has such an amazing story that it's never about everything going right. It's fascinating to hear each athlete's perspective and each athlete's story."
"I fully believe that a perfect race doesn't exist. There is always something to get better at," she added.
On the title of the current chapter of her life, Vollmer said, "Discovery." "I can say that for a lot of different chapters but that is so exciting," she said. "I am exploring public speaking, and I have really been diving into what my swimming career has meant to me and what my life lessons were and what truly shaped who I am, and why I was successful based on my own analysis. It's all about discovery right now."
In her personal life, she is a mother of two boys Arlen Jackson and Ryker Alexander, ages five and three respectively.
Vollmer shared that "success and fulfillment are both tied very closely to her." "Success is feeling fulfilled with the effort that you have put in, and the love and happiness and the sensation of feeling whole. Success is not just an object or something you achieve. You have to really embody the word success and feel successful as a person as you are chasing the goals and dreams that you have in life," she said.
For her fans and supporters, she said, "Thank you doesn't really begin to encompass everything. Thanks for coming along on this ride with me, and for embracing this new chapter of discovery in my life. I have been very lucky to have such a strong support system. I am very thankful of people's healthy perspectives."
To learn more about five-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Dana Vollmer, check out her official website and her Facebook page.
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