RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - With her son’s name Arlen written on her foot, Dana Vollmer dove into Rio De Janeiro’s Olympic Aquatics Stadium pool on Sunday and less than a minute later she became the second American woman to win an Olympic swimming medal after having a baby.
Vollmer clinched bronze in the 100 meters butterfly, surrendering her London 2012 title to an impressive Sarah Sjostrom, who clocked a world record of 55.48 seconds.
Canadian teenager Penny Oleksiak took the silver, leaving the American a well-beaten but happy third behind the Swede.
“She kind of kicked my butt,” smiled Vollmer, who joins Dara Torres as the only American women to reach the swimming podium after having a child.
“To make a comeback like this I had to dream big and you can’t get bigger than saying you want to race Sarah.
“When it came down to it I wanted to dive into the pool and give it everything I had and had no regrets.
“I wrote Arlen on my foot for this race, I missed him a lot today.
“I can either spend energy being sad or I can use that energy to make him really proud whenever he watches this one day.
“I want him to be proud of mommy.”
It was her son, who was watching at home on Sunday with her husband, that provided a major motivation for her to be at the Rio Games.
She wanted to show the world you could be a mother and Olympian, which challenged her to work herself back into shape after taking a break following the 2013 world championships.
“This is a personal gold for me, I am really happy with that,” said Vollmer, who could be back in the pool as part of the 4x100 medley relay team.
“This has been one of those comebacks of just appreciating every little moment and not knowing how far I get to go or if I was going to run out of time in this comeback.
“To stand up there and be in the finals and be with Sarah again then to make it onto the podium it is everything I wanted.”
Writing by Steve Keating; Editing by Greg Stutchbury