Granbury native Dana Vollmer's Olympic run powered by heart

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by CYNTHIA IZAGUIRRE

WFAA

Posted on September 14, 2012 at 10:55 PM

GRANBURY -- Raised in Granbury and proud of it, Olympic gold medalist Dana Vollmer invited News 8 to the home where she grew up Friday.

"Granbury has been my support system my entire career," she said. "Coming from a small town, everyone knows who you are, all your friends are involved. I've grown up with the same people since kindergarten, just feeling like the whole town is my family."

Swimming competitively since she was a little girl, Vollmer's success has not come without incredible perseverance and a lot of heart. In fact, Vollmer's perseverance and heart are tied together in more ways than one.

"When I was 14, I was diagnosed with a heart condition," Vollmer said.

At the age of 15, she underwent heart surgery. Doctors allowed Vollmer to continue with athletics, as long as she had a defibrillator constantly nearby.

Understanding what this meant, Vollmer was afraid to touch it.

"My mom carried the defibrillator everywhere," she said. "I didn't have to touch it. Now I've touched it, but at the time when I was 16, going into the Olympics, I refused to touch it."

Overcoming her health issues, Vollmer and the relay team went on to win gold in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. This past summer in London, she had one goal to accomplish.

"My whole goal was to get an individual gold," Vollmer said.

She chased the world record for the 100-meter butterfly.

"One thing that I've been working with my coach is kinda the idea of 'Get the water and use it,'" Vollmer said. "Instead of 'Be stronger, be stronger.' It was, 'Get the water, use it. Get the water, use it.'"

Not even one of her two caps popping off kept her from touching the wall in world-record time -- 55.98 seconds.

"Maybe I wasn't thinking about how bad the last 15 meters was hurting, because I was distracted with my cap," Vollmer said.

Gold is a color Vollmer seems to be getting used to, but to share it with others is a feeling like none other.

"It's one thing to get it and have it placed around my neck, but it's another completely different feeling when you place it around a little kid's neck," Vollmer said. "Just seeing how excited they are, it's just incredible."

E-mail cizaguirre@wfaa.com

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