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Swimmer Dana Vollmer, A 7-Time Olympic Medalist, To Retire After Nationals

By Chrös McDougall | July 29, 2019, 3:37 p.m. (ET)

Dana Vollmer celebrates the two-year countdown to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on July 24, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.


Swimming fans should enjoy watching Dana Vollmer compete this week at the U.S. championships in California, because the competition will be her last one.

Vollmer, a three-time U.S. Olympian and seven-time medalist, will retire following the event in Stanford, California, which is part of the Team USA Champions Series, presented by Xfinity. Should she reach the final, her last race would be the 100-meter butterfly on Friday.

Vollmer, 31, announced her decision Monday in a letter written for espnW.

“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. “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 Granbury, Texas, native has been a fixture in international swimming for nearly two decades, having competed at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Swimming as a 12-year-old and made her first Olympic team in 2004, where she won a gold medal in the 4x200-meter freestyle as a 16-year-old in Athens.

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Though she missed qualifying for the Olympic Games Beijing 2008, Vollmer returned to the Olympics in 2012 in London, where she won three more gold medals and set a world record (since broken) in the 100-meter butterfly. Four years later in Rio, she added three more medals: one gold, one silver and one bronze.

In addition, Vollmer won 10 medals at the long course world championships, to go along with six from the short course worlds.

Between winning medals in the biggest championships, Vollmer gave birth to two sons — Arlen, in March 2015, and Ryker, who was born on July 4, 2017. Although Vollmer had said she planned to go for another Olympic Games next summer in Tokyo, she has struggled with injuries since returning to competition in November 2018, and her last competition was in May.

“This is not letting go of a dream, it’s having the ambition to start a new one!” she wrote in conclusion. “While it is sad to see this chapter of my life coming to a close, I do so with a full heart. Over the past 27 years, I have learned lessons that will continue to shape me in the future, and I can’t begin to express how thankful I am for every moment. I am in a fantastic place right now knowing my life is full of options! Now it’s time for me to focus on new goals and opportunities. I am incredibly grateful for many, many years of self-discovery, pushing the limits, breaking boundaries and being surrounded by women working to be the best that they can be! Thank you to everyone who has supported me as a fan and cheered me on during my journey. Now, I look forward to cheering on the next generation!”

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

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Dana Vollmer