07/21/2012 12:09 am ET

Olympic Swimming: Dana Vollmer Returns To Olympics After Missing 2008 Games

By Shoshanna Rutemiller, Swimming World

24-year-old Dana Vollmer was half her current age when she made her first USA Olympic Trials appearance in 2000. Twelve years, and an Olympic Gold later, Vollmer is set to make her mark in the London Olympics.

At her first Olympics in 2004, Vollmer was younger than the 17-year-old World Record her 4x200 freestyle relay team broke when they won Gold. Unfortunately, she failed to qualify for the following Olympics in 2008.

"In 2008 I was such a nervous wreck," Vollmer told the media at Trials. "I got to enjoy [Trials] a lot more this time around. "

It must have been enjoyable, considering she won the 100 butterfly and placed third in the 200 freestyle, behind Allison Schmitt and Missy Franklin, earning a spot on the women's 4x200 freestyle relay in London.

Vollmer started her swimming career under Ron Forest at the Fort Worth Area Swim Team (FAST). She originally attended the University of Florida before transferring to UC Berkeley with Teri McKeever. While with the Golden Bears, she was the 2009 NCAA and PAC-10 Swimmer of the Year, winning four national titles and helping Cal to its first NCAA Championship.

2009 was a big year for Vollmer, as she also set her first American Record in the 200 freestyle, a mark previously held by Natalie Coughlin.

With American Records already to her name, could a World Record be next for Vollmer? In the semifinals of the 100 butterfly, she lowered her own American Record by a couple hundredths and was less than half a second off the current World Record. At the 50, she was ahead of World Record pace.

In post-race interviews, a woman with Australian media told Vollmer "'re scaring us with that time," in reference to competition she will bring to the Olympics for the Australian women.

"First and foremost, I just wanted to get my hand on the wall and get on the [Olympic] team." Vollmer said. "Especially after not making the team in 2008... Yes, a world record is definitely in mind."

The current World Record is held by Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom at a 56.06. Vollmer said she hopes to post a 55. If she does, it may mean becoming the fastest female 100 butterflier in history.

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