Olympic Swimmer Dana Vollmer Says Her Baby Motivated Her to Bring Home Gold

Dana Vollmer

As moms, we're usually bursting with pride about our kids. So, when an opportunity comes along to make our kids proud of us, we embrace it full force. Olympic swimmer Dana Vollmer, who just added three medals -- including one gold -- to her collection, says having her 1-year-old son, Arlen, in the forefront of her mind motivated her to compete like never before in Rio.  

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It was with Arlen's name written on her foot that the 28-year-old from Texas emerged as only the second American woman to ever win an Olympic swimming medal after giving birth.

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"Competing now as a mom took the pressure off in a way," Dana  shared with CafeMom, on just how different it was to return to the Olympic games after giving birth.

"It's added a love and a want to make my son proud in what he sees," she says. "I missed him so much while I was in Rio, but I thought about one day when he learns about me being an Olympian and watches me race, he'll be able to see a mom that missed him so much and that he made me so much better and so much stronger."

While fans caught a glimpse of teammate Michael Phelps's adorable baby, Boomer, in the stands, Vollmer and her husband, Andy Grant, made the difficult decision that he and Arlen would remain in the states. With Zika virus warnings in the news, Vollmer shares that, initially, she was concerned about potential health issues for her growing family, which influenced their choice.

"As more research was done, I felt confident that I could participate without fear," she says, adding that she never even saw a mosquito while she was in Rio.

"Zika was a factor in my husband staying home since our family plan is to try to have our second child soon and the virus stays in males a lot longer," she explained.

Fortunately, thanks to FaceTime, the family was able to "see" each other. Still, as any mom knows, missing your little one is never easy.

"It was really hard to be away from them, but we felt like it was the best decision for our family," she says. "Arlen is a handful, a very fun handful, and does not like to be still for very long -- he's at that stage where he no longer wants to hold your hand and just wants to run!"

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Speaking of her toddler's notorious sprinting, when CafeMom spoke to Vollmer in the spring, the athlete credited Arlen with helping her train "smarter."

With her little guy on the move at all times, Vollmer shares how chasing after a tot can actually get you ready to chase the gold medal.

"Before I had Arlen, I would work out six hours total every day," she recalls. "When I went back to training for these Olympics I went down to three to four hours and thought that I couldn't exactly cut that time in half and get where I wanted to be -– but realized that you do a lot running around as a mom so that makes up for it!"

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Vollmer's amazing comeback, which included breastfeeding while training, is beyond inspiring. When asked if she has any advice for new moms who are setting goals, she says her best advice is to just take it day by day.

"Even the goal to get back in shape seemed like a really lofty goal to me, but when you step back and take it a day at a time you can be happy with your progress as you take steps toward that larger goal," she explains.

The gold medalist notes that the journey to Rio, and all she achieved there, has made her even more confident going forward.

"I know now, that as a family, we can take on any challenge," she says. "It's not always pretty and it's definitely not always easy, but we can make a flexible plan that moves towards any goal!" 

As for her inspiration, it looks like Arlen earned a gold medal (for cuteness, perhaps?) all on his own.

Congratulations to this truly amazing mom who has made both her son and her country proud. 



Image via Dana Vollmer

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