Produced by Coleman Hodges.
Reported by Jared Anderson.
It’s been a stellar career resurgence for California Aquatics Olympian Dana Vollmer.
It’s easy to forget that just 10 months ago, Vollmer wasn’t even competing. A two-year break after the 2013 World Championships left Vollmer appearing as a long shot for the U.S. Olympic roster even in the 100 fly, an event in which she won Olympic gold in London with a new world record.
Since her first swim of the comeback tour – which came last July – Vollmer has risen extraordinarily fast. And while she’s set herself up as a frontrunner for a 100 fly spot, her performances at the Arena Pro Swim Series at Charlotte suggest that she could once again be a multi-event Olympian.
Vollmer went 53.59 in the 100 freestyle in Charlotte – her best swim in that race since 2009 and easily her best of the textile era.
Previously, Vollmer had only been 54.44 during her career comeback run, a time that wouldn’t have been a factor on Team USA’s 4×100 free relay.
But Vollmer’s swim last weekend jumped her to the top of the American rankings for 2015-2016, and it also put her in the driver’s seat for a key leg on the U.S. relay come Rio. Here’s a look at what the projected relay (based on the top 4 Americans this season) looked like before and after Vollmer’s big swim:
|Katie Ledecky||53.75||Dana Vollmer||53.59|
|Abbey Weitzeil||53.77||Katie Ledecky||53.75|
|Simone Manuel||53.80||Abbey Weitzeil||53.77|
|Lia Neal||54.01||Simone Manuel||53.80|
Vollmer’s time also puts her #9 in the world for this season. Though catching Australia may be out of the question for any relay in Rio, the Americans now have at least four big talents with a shot to challenge for 52-second splits – proving that all the fan hand-wringing about the state of American sprinting may be a bit premature.