Born in Syracuse, NY, the U.S. butterfly queen grew up swimming near Fort Worth, TX. Dana’s mother, Cathy, was a coach and heavily influenced her initial love for the sport. Under Ron Forrest at the Fort Worth Area Swim Team (FAST), Vollmer quickly distinguished herself as an elite swimmer. At age 12, she was the youngest swimmer at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials and competed in the 100m butterfly, an event that continues to be one of her greatest strong points. One year later, she was the youngest member of the 2001 Goodwill Games team.
Vollmer had heart surgery to correct a quickened heart rate in 2003, and also showed signs of life-threatening Long QT Syndrome. As a precaution, her mother brought a portable defibrillator to all of Vollmer’s swim meets. Although she later stopped showing symptoms of Long QT, living with a heart condition has motivated her to become an active ambassador for the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women campaign.
After graduating from Granbury High School in 2005, Vollmer enrolled at the University of Florida but soon transferred to University of California, Berkeley to swim for coach Teri McKeever with the Cal Golden Bears. Just a sophomore, Vollmer proved her value with NCAA wins in the 100yd butterfly, 400yd freestyle relay, 800yd freestyle relay and 400yd medley relay. She returned her junior year, more versatile than ever, finishing second in the 100yd butterfly and also swimming on all of Cal’s relays.
In her final year of eligibility, she became a three-time individual NCAA champion with wins in the 100yd and 200yd freestyles and helped Cal to relay victories (and NCAA, NCAA Championship, American and U.S. Open records) in the both the 400yd and 800yd freestyle relays. After leading Cal to its first NCAA team championship, she was named the NCAA Swimmer of the Year, Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year, and gained a nomination for a 2009 ESPY Award in the Best Female Collegiate Athlete category.
2001 Goodwill Games
Vollmer made her international debut at the 2001 Goodwill Games, where she was the youngest member of the U.S. team at age 13. She also competed in the 2003 Pan-American Games, winning gold in the 200m freestyle and setting a PanAm record in the 800m freestyle relay.
2004 Olympic Games
She made her Olympic Games debut in Athens in 2004. Vollmer placed sixth in the 200 freestyle and won gold as part of the world-record-breaking 800 freestyle relay. She won three medals (gold, 800 freestyle relay; silver, 400 freestyle relay; silver, 400 medley relay) at the 2007 World Championships. Vollmer also competed in 2009 and 2011, when she won the 100 butterfly and began to cement her place among butterfly royalty.
2007 World Championships
Vollmer claimed her first world title as a member of the 800 freestyle relay. She also earned silvers in the 400 freestyle relay and the 400 medley relay.
2008 & 2012 Olympic Games
After failing to make the Olympic team in 2008, Vollmer returned to the London Games in 2012 ready to make history. She won three gold medals, two for relays (the 800 freestyle and a world-record-setting 400 medley) and one in the 100 butterfly. She set the current world record in what is now her signature event with a time of 55.98. She was the first woman to swim the event under 56 seconds.
2013 World Championships
She returned to the international stage at 2013 Worlds, winning gold in the 400 medley relay and bronze in the 100 butterfly. She continues to train with Cal, under coach Teri McKeever.
2014 & 2015 – Becoming a Mother
Vollmer did not race for nearly two years after her performance at 2013 Barcelona World Championships.
In October of 2014 Vollmer announced she was expecting her first child.
March 6th, 2015, Vollmer and her husband, Andy Grant, had their first son, Arlen Jackson Grant.
“Lifestyle wise, I want to be extremely active with my son and in life in general. I’m loving it so far. I know how to get into shape and eat healthy and set that lifestyle my family. If that includes getting back in the pool… it has so far. It’s been really fun getting back in the water.”
2015 – Don’t Call it a Comeback
There was much speculation Vollmer had hung up her goggles, though she told Universal Sports Network she never left the sport.
“I hated when I saw the rumors that I actually did retire; I never did retire. I always wanted to leave it open for myself and I want to get back into shape. It’s one of those things that if I can get back into shape, maybe I’ll see what I can go in the pool.”
July 12th 2015 the world record holder returned to the pool at the LA Invite, swimming 1:00.05 in the 100 fly prelim.
2016- Road to Rio
In the run up to the Olympic Trials, Vollmer was looking better than ever at the Mesa Pro Series, hitting a best time in 50 freestyle and best ever in season time in the 100 butterfly.
2016 US Olympic Trial
Vollmer’s second place finish in the 100M Butterfly behind Kelsi Worrell, and her 6th place finish in the 100M Free, give Vollmer two events to swim in Rio! This will be her third Olympics, after making the team in 2004 and 2012.
2016 Rio Olympics
Just 17 months after giving birth to her son, Vollmer was part of the 4x100M Freestyle Relay that won silver behind Team Australia.
In the 100M Butterfly, Vollmer once again medaled, finishing third behind world record holder Sarah Sjostrom, and 16 year old phenom Penny Oleksiak.