MESA, Ariz. (AP) — Olympian Dana Vollmer isn’t taking it easy while awaiting the birth of her second child. The swimmer is competing with what she likens to having a bowling ball in her stomach.
Vollmer clocked a time of 27.59 seconds in the 50-meter freestyle at the Pro Swim Series meet in Mesa on Thursday night. She finished 55th a year after swimming the same event in 25.00.
“Time didn’t matter, place didn’t matter,” she said. “I’ve loved being here. I’ve loved seeing all my teammates, all the people from Rio. The race felt great.”
Vollmer is due with her second son in July. She had her first child two years ago and returned in time to compete at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. She won three medals, including bronze in the 100 butterfly.
“I don’t think I’ve ever done a 50 where I took four or five breaths,” she said of the sprint in which swimmers typically gulp one breath. “A 50 felt long for the first time in my life.”
Vollmer wore a size 32 high-tech suit, up from the size 26 she wore in Rio.
“It kind of holds everything in,” she said. “We had to go up a few sizes to hold the belly, so that the top of this is pretty big.”
Vollmer said she raced with approval from her doctor. Her dry-land training includes strength training.
“Putting the health of the baby first doesn’t just mean sitting on the couch,” she said.
The 29-year-old former world record holder is eyeing the 2020 Tokyo Games. She took two years off after the 2012 London Olympics and came back in time to earn a spot in Rio.
“I found a better balance in life,” she said. “My life had always just been swimming and training as hard as you can and all about measuring yourself by time. To kind of step away for the first time in my life and tell everybody I was done, my life just really changed.
“Swimming became my escape, my me time, a chance for me to be with my teammates again. The pressure was taken off of it and I’m just really, really loving it again.”