LONDON — Dana Vollmer accomplished everything she wanted to Saturday: She got an Olympic record, an American record and the top seed for Sunday’s final when she hopes to break the world record.
The 100-meter butterfly is a race the Granbury product feels she owns. She hasn’t lost a final in the event in more than a year, going undefeated since winning the world championship last summer.
“I feel like I’ve been consistently in the low 56s now, so I know I’m not going to be higher than a low 56,” Vollmer said. “If Sarah [Sjostrom] can get down there, I’ll battle it.”
Vollmer’s 56.25 in the morning heats topped the rest of the field by almost a second and bested the 12-year-old Olympic record of 56.61 held by Inge de Bruijn of the Netherlands.
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“I’m really happy with that,” Vollmer said. “I’m always more nervous in the first race than the rest. To start off that fast is kind of a confidence-booster, that I do feel good, that I am ready to go.”
The scoreboard at the Aquatics Centre credited Vollmer with new Olympic and American records after her semifinal heat, too, but the operator failed to include her morning time, which was better. Vollmer touched in 56.36 in her semifinal.
“It’s still my second-best time ever,” Vollmer said. Australia’s Alicia Coutts had the second-fastest time (56.85) in the semifinals, with Denmark’s Jeanette Ottesen Gray third-fastest (57.25) and Sweden’s Sjostrom fourth-fastest (57.27).
The rest of the field should race for second Sunday night (1:30 p.m. CDT).
Vollmer has never won an individual Olympic medal. She was part of the gold-medal-winning 4x200m free relay as a 16-year-old in 2004, but she missed qualifying for the Beijing Games in 2008.
Now, she is the best in the world in the 100 fly.
She hopes to solidify that standing not only with a gold medal but with a world record. Vollmer was on world-record pace halfway through both races Saturday but the 56.06 that Sjostrom swam in 2009 remains just out of reach.
“I sure hope so,” Vollmer said of getting the world record. “Each time I dive in, I’m just trying to see how fast I can go. I’m hoping – really hoping – that that 55 is there.
“I’m just going to keep working on what I’ve been working on, having a tighter rhythm, hitting my walls, having the best underwater I can and just making sure I do all the little things. That’s how I’m going to get those extra tenths.”