Dana Vollmer is no stranger to Olympic achievement, from taking gold with the U.S. women's swimming team during the 4×200m freestyle relay in Athens in 2004, to getting three gold medals at the London games in 2012, to her accomplishments now in Rio de Janiero -- gold in the 4×100m medley relay, silver in the freestyle relay, and bronze in the 100m butterfly. Still, the 28-year-old swimmer had to give it up to the U.S. women's gymnastics team, which Vollmer said she was most excited to watch.
Vollmer took some time during the Rio Games to rave about getting to know the incredible U.S. women's gymnastics team before their dominant 2016 run, the surprisingly great environment in Olympic Village, and what she looks forward to NOT eating when she goes back home:
ET: Which athlete were you most excited to meet during the Olympics?
Dana Vollmer: We have a tradition where the men’s basketball team will come to watch one of our finals and I got to sit next to Draymond Green, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson from the Golden State Warriors. Being from the Bay Area I was so excited to meet them and get a picture!
Which event, outside your sport, were you most excited to watch?
Gymnastics. I did gymnastics as a young kid and I’m just so amazed by what they’re able to make their bodies do. It’s even better that I got to know Aly [Raisman] and Gabby [Douglas] in London, and now Simone [Biles] through our relationship with P&G. They are absolutely killing it!
What’s life really like in the Olympic Village?
There was a lot being said, so we had low expectations going in, but it’s actually been amazing. It’s still a village, so it’s not necessarily a luxury hotel, but it’s beautiful – they have flowers and water structures. I was really pleased with how it turned out.
What’s your favorite thing about being in Rio so far?
Getting to see Copacabana Beach and being with my family. Since I was really busy with competition I didn’t really get to sightsee much, but being on the beach and seeing my family was really nice.
Who from back home do you hope was watching you compete and why?
Someone took a video of my old coach watching me before I raced and during my relay. He really set the foundation for my career and my love of the sport, and he’s been my biggest supporter over the years, so it was really cool to see how supportive he still is.
Readers love learning about what athletes eat. What’s your game-day meal?
Being gluten & egg-free I actually learned a recipe from Shane Wolf from Australia who taught me to do rice with peanut butter and trail mix. With the dining hall in the Olympic Village, it’s a little hard to find what you want, but there is always rice, so that’s a pretty big staple. I’ll go and get my bowl of rice and add almonds, peanut butter, honey, milk – It keeps me from being hungry and gives me the energy I need.
What’s one thing you’re looking forward to eating (or treating yourself to) after the competition?
Not chicken and rice! I would love to go out for a really good steak dinner and just pile veggies on my plate when I get home. While we’re here, I try to be really safe and cautious, so I eat really plain, bland foods. I’m really excited to add a bit of variety!
How is P&G helping you compete at your very best?
P&G and Pampers are really celebrating moms. To not only have my mom here helping me to compete, but also to be a mom this time around is something really special. Watching the Thank You, Mom campaign leading up to the Olympics has been so great because I know how amazing it feels to have that medal around your neck and to get to hug your mom. You just want to do it over, and over again and that’s what keeps you going. I also feel like P&G and the Thank You, Mom campaign embrace the struggles that athletes go through. It’s not just about the medal ceremonies – it’s about the day-to-day grind it takes to get there.