Saturday, 15 April 2017

Olympic swimmer races six months pregnant

With a little more than 1,000 days to go
until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics begin,
preparation - even at this stage - is key. Such is the case with American swimmer Dana
Vollmer, who claimed her seventh Olympic medal
in Rio last year. But she has had to adapt her preparation for
Tokyo to cater for, in her words, the "bowling
ball" in her stomach. In her first race since Rio on Thursday, Vollmer
was six months pregnant. The first obstacle was finding a swimming costume
that worked for her - up from the size 26 she wore
in Rio to a size 32 at Thursday's race in Mesa,
Arizona. "It kind of holds everything in," she said, in an
interview on the Team USA website. "We had to
go up a few sizes to hold the belly." Vollmer raced with her doctor's permission, and
has amended her training programme while
pregnant by doing more strength training. In an interview before the racewith ESPN , she said training was a welcome distraction. "As hard as people think this is, the race is only 30
seconds long as opposed to the entire day I spend
holding and chasing around a 35-pound two-
year-old," she said. "This will feel like a break." After winning gold in the 100m butterfly in the
2012 London Olympics, Vollmer took time off to
have her first child, son Arlen, and returned in
time to qualify for Rio. But this time around, she has made the decision to
continue training. Baby number two, a boy, is due
in July. "Putting the health of the baby first doesn't just
mean sitting on the couch," the 29-year-old said. Why it's OK to run when you are
pregnant Vollmer isn't the first woman to race while heavily
pregnant - in June 2014, Alysia Montano competed
in the 800m quarter finals of the US track and field
championships while eight months pregnant. Plenty of women have also taken part in the
Olympics while pregnant, though none did in Rio,
due to concerns over the effect of the Zika virus
on unborn children. The website of the US Swimming Masters, an
organisation helping promote the sport, advises
that women can carry on swimming even while
heavily pregnant, but that each case is different. Competing in the 50 metres freestyle only three
months before giving birth did present one
particular challenge for Vollmer. "I don't think I've ever done a 50 where I took
four or five breaths," she said. "A 50 felt long for
the first time in my life." In the end, Vollmer finished 55th in the preliminary
round in Mesa, with a time of 27.59 seconds (last
year, she swam the same race in 25 seconds). Not that her time was a problem. "Time didn't matter, place didn't matter," she said.
"I've loved being here. I've loved seeing all my
teammates, all the people from Rio. The race felt

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