When she touched, Dana Vollmer knew she had the gold medal. The only question was whether she also had the world record.
The smile on her face told the story: She got the icing on her cake.
Vollmer became the first 100-meter butterflier ever to break 56 seconds in winning her first individual Olympic gold medal.
“I didn’t know, honestly, with how my finish was,” Vollmer said. “I knew I was in the lead, but I didn’t know if I had gotten the world record like I wanted. It takes me a little bit to be able to see the clock, to get my goggles unfogged. But it was just absolutely incredible, and to be able to do it here in front of that crowd, with my husband and my parents in the stands, it was everything I could have dreamed it would have been.”
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The Granbury product won in 55.98, breaking the old mark of 56.06 set by Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom in 2009. It was only the second world record achieved by a female swimmer since the hi-tech suits were banned in 2010.
It came a day after the morning heats when she broke the 12-year-old Olympic record of 56.61 held by Inge de Bruijn of the Netherlands while lowering her American record with a 56.25.
“I’m just so excited to have gotten a world record and be the first female to be under 56,” Vollmer said. “But on the other hand, I also know I can have a better finish than that, so I know I can be faster as well.”
Vollmer 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. She now has solidified her spot as the best in the world in her event, having not lost a 100-meter fly race since before the world championships last summer.
China’s Ying Lu took silver in 56.57 and Australia’s Alicia Coutts was the bronze medalist in 56.87.