41-year-old makes US Olympic swim team

Posted on July 6, 2008 
Filed Under Life

Time out for some sports news.

They say, after you turn 40, it’s downhill all the way. But not for some swimmers, apparently. Dara Torres, 41, competing with swimmers half her age, triumphed in the 100m freestyle Olympic trials qualifying her for the US team. And she’s not done yet. Dara hopes to qualify for the 50m event as well, in which she has the best times going in.

Michael Phelps, Aaron Peirsol and Natalie Coughlin are this year’s superstars but Dara Torres is the story.

According to DallasNews.com, this is Dara’s second comeback. She’s competed in four previous Olympics, her first in Los Angeles in 1984. In 2000, after a seven-year hiatus, she was the most decorated female athlete with five medals. Then came another seven-year retirement, in which she had a baby, Tessa, now two.
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“When this started, people were saying I was their inspiration,” she said. “But I think it’s done a complete 180-degree turn. I have so many people coming up to me and telling me about their stories. I feel like I’m getting inspiration.”

She calls age “just a number,” but while pointing out that her first Olympic trials was 24 years ago, she stopped and repeated the number, as if it couldn’t be real.

If she qualifies for Beijing, she will become the first American swimmer to compete in five Olympics, despite sitting out the 1996 and 2004 Games.

Her comeback is so improbable that she knew some would have suspicions, so she went to US Anti-Doping Agency officials and volunteered for extra-stringent testing.

“I said, ‘Look, I want to be an open book. Because I want people to know that I’m doing this right. That I am 41 years old and I’m clean and I want a clean sport. I swam against swimmers who were dirty my whole life.’ ”

Dara’s secret, apparently, besides her incredibly competitive spirit, is her stretching routines. Makes one hurt just watching her.

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