I’ll be honest. I wasn’t feeling so hot the day I sat down with Olympic swimmer Dana Vollmer. It was one of those days where nothing seemed to go smoothly: the subway was delayed, my coffee spilled all over my sweater, and the gloomy weather had the best of me. Basically, my confidence wasn’t nearly where it should have been.
But spend 10 minutes with Dana, an incredible athlete who has four gold medals to her name and became the first woman to ever swim the 100-meter butterfly in under 56 seconds, and it’s hard not to feel empowered, inspired, and totally refreshed.
At least that’s how I felt after sitting down with Dana in celebration of P&G’s new Thank You Mom video for the 2016 Olympic games, "Strong," and to talk about health, wellness, off days, beauty faves, and, of course, confidence. Here’s a breakdown on our chat.
Her mom taught her a lot about confidence.
Given the theme of P&G’s new video and the proximately our interview was to Mother’s Day, I had to ask what Dana learned about courage and confidence from her mom.
“Over the years, it’s been a roller coaster of a journey — as every Olympian’s story is — so there’s definitely low moments where it’s nice to have someone who helps you look beyond the sport,” Dana tells me.
“She [her mother] was always really good at letting me see how much I’ve got to travel and being in school and the friends that I had — keeping me grounded and keeping things in perspective. All of that goes into when you’re standing behind the blocks, knowing this isn’t life or death. This is hopefully 55 seconds of my life. That goes by so fast and to really appreciate every moment of it. Is it going to hurt? Yeah, it always does. That’s part of it — to just really love every moment that you’re doing it,” she says.
Are you tearing up? Because I am.
The cure to an off day? Bubble baths.
Dana, you are all of us. When this athlete is feeling down, she tells me she enlists the power of a bubble bath. “I love a bubble bath and just laying there and trying to just detox — letting it go and bringing it back to knowing that it’s my perspective that’s usually making the situation hard,” she said.
This is on top of cooking herself a healthy meal and getting more sleep. Can you say #RoleModel?
Staying hydrated is everything.
Dana told me that her mom taught her the importance of staying hydrated.
“Hydration affects everything about your life,” she says. “I notice when I’m dehydrated how cracked my lips get and I tend to breakout more. When I’m not hydrated, I don’t have as much energy.”
Dana’s mom’s advice for the win — again.
She’s got to be strategic with her beauty routine.
You think applying beauty products wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but Dana needs to be very particular about when she applies her SPF.
She says she applies it about 45 minutes before she swims so it doesn’t make her cap and goggles slide around. Have you ever swam with water in your goggles? It’s not fun.
As for chlorine and her hair? “I’ve seen hair products that you can put in and then my cap does come off, so I do try to get my hair wet before I get in — let it soak up the clean water instead of soaking up the chlorinated water,” she says.
She has quite a few methods for recovering from tough workouts.
And we’re not just talking about using a roller.
“I like laying on the ground and putting a tennis ball between my shoulder blades. It’s kind of deeper than just a roller. But I love doing epsom salt baths. I will get a big bottle of water and get in an epsom salt bath and just sit in it for like 15 minutes. Those are my main go-to recovery [methods],” she says.
Dana’s advice for achieving your dreams? Tune out the negativity and go after what you want.
“I’ve always felt like you've got to not listen to people who want to say negative things about you. I know that’s incredibly hard, but the only person that matters in how you feel about yourself is yourself. Trying to stay in-tune to that but figuring out what makes you happy — what workouts make you happy,” she says.
“…There’s not one way to reach a dream. There are tons of people who are going to judge your process. It’s going to work for you if you love it — just filling your days with what make you happy. Then, I feel like you’re going to love the journey on the way to that dream and it’s going to make the dream even better.”