Dana Vollmer & Co. savor Olympic golden moments

Dana Vollmer takes away more than just three gold medals from London

08/04/2012 11:47 PM

08/06/2012 11:58 AM

LONDON -- After winning her third gold medal and setting her second world record, it took a while for Dana Vollmer to lose it.

Vollmer made it through the medal ceremony and through the national anthem on Saturday without shedding a tear. She finally broke down when she made eye contact with her mother, Cathy Vollmer, as Vollmer took a victory lap with her teammates.

"It's just been an incredible journey," Vollmer said.

The Granbury product is leaving London with a memory bank full of souvenirs. She has a Call Me Maybe video that she and her teammates made. She has a wall-full of inspirational quotes given to her by her coach, Teri McKeever. She has pictures with LeBron James, James Harden and Chris Paul. She has laughs she shared with roommate Rebecca Soni. And, oh yes, she has three gold medals, three bouquets of roses and three American flags.

The swimming team's party at the USA House likely went all night Saturday.

"I couldn't have imagined such an amazing meet," Vollmer said. "More than the medals, it was the team. Teri has always told me that when I'm older, I'm not going to remember the times or how many medals I got. It's going to be the relationships I made. This meet has just been full of them."

The eight-day Olympic Games ended for the swimmers Saturday night. The crowd of 12,000 waved goodbye to Michael Phelps, who gave them one last, great swim just for old times' sake.

Phelps swam the third leg -- the fly -- on the 4x100 medley relay as the U.S. won a race it has never lost. He finished his career with 22 medals, 18 of them gold.

"I've been able to do everything I've wanted," Phelps said. "I've been able to put my mind to the goals that I have wanted to achieve. [Coach] Bob [Bowman] and I have been able to somehow manage to do every single thing. If you can say that about your career,... it's time for other things."

This meet, though, Phelps had nothing on the U.S. women's team, which won 14 medals, including eight golds. (The men won 16 medals, including eight golds.)

Missy Franklin, Soni, Vollmer and Allison Schmitt stood on the podium after winning the 4x100 medley relay in world-record time (3:52.05). The four finished with 16 medals among them, including 12 golds.

As they gathered in a group hug, no one said anything. Their medals spoke volumes.

"I think just that hug said it all," Franklin said. "Just being together and being in each other's arms and knowing that it was done -- and our Olympic experience of 2012 was over -- we couldn't be more happy with how we finished it. We were all there together, taking in that moment of being world-record holders and gold medalists for our country."

Vollmer, 24, won a gold medal eight years ago as a part of the 4x200 free relay in Athens. She was a part of it then, but she wasn't a part of it.

This time, it was her time with her team.

She became the first 100-meter women's butterflier ever to break 56 seconds in winning her first individual Olympic gold medal a week ago, and she added gold medals in the 4x200 free relay and the 4x100 medley relay.

"I told you a year ago that it was going to happen, right?" McKeever said to Vollmer. "I said, 'I think this is possible; let's do it.' She's made the commitment in so many different ways and grown in so many different ways. I can't put it into words. It's just really been awesome."

Vollmer's tears of joy said everything.

Charean Williams, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @NFLCharean

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