|Born:||April 15, 1967|
Beverly Hills, CA
|Hometown:||Los Angeles, CA|
|Olympics:||2000, 1992, 1988, 1984|
|Event(s):||50m free, 4x100m free relay|
An even dozen
Dara Torres won three silver medals in Beijing, bringing her career total to 12. That ties her for first with Jenny Thompson for the most for a U.S. female Olympian. Her meet started on the first day of finals, when she anchored the U.S. 4x100m free relay team, and ended on the last, when she anchored the 4x100 medley relay team. She also won a silver in the 50m free, losing the gold by just .01 of a second. Torres already was the oldest U.S. swimming gold medalist at 33 in in Sydney. At age 41, she's the oldest Olympic swimming medalist in history. She's also the only swimmer to win a medal in five Olympics
Heading into Olympic Trials, Torres was on the radar as a wild card. Torres had not competed much since a shoulder operation in November 2007, though she seemed to have a good chance to qualify for her fifth Olympics on a relay. But Torres had more than a relay in mind: she first won the 100m free, ahead of 25-year-old Natalie Coughlin, who holds the American record. A few nights later, Torres won the 50m free, lowering the American record in semifinals and again in the final. Torres later announced she wouldn't swim the 100m free in Beijing, ceding her spot in that event, but her win guarantees her a spot on the 4x100m free relay and 4x100m medley relay, giving her three more chances to earn an Olympic medal.
For the aged
Already the oldest swimming gold medalist, Torres could raise that record from 33 to 41 by winning gold again in Beijing. She is also the oldest American swimmer to qualify for the Olympics and the first to make five teams. Remarkably, Torres was the oldest member of the 2000 Olympic team, but she won't be in Beijing: 56-year-old shooter Libby Callahan has that distinction.
Back in '84
Torres made her debut in Los Angeles in 1984. She won gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay, her only event at those Games. But she returned in 1988, earning a silver and bronze, then decided to retire in 1989. But it wasn't long before she returned to the pool, fueled by a replay of her seventh-place finish in the 100m free. She began training again and competed in Barcelona in 1992, earning another gold in the 4x100m free relay. Torres then retired for a second time.
Comeback No. 2
Seven years later, a friend suggested she consider a return to the sport. Torres, then 32, admits she thought it was a "crazy idea," but after talking to coach Richard Quick, decided to move to Palo Alto to begin training. Though Torres said she wasn't thinking about swimming at all during her layoff, she maintained her physical fitness and was well-prepared for a comeback. Incredibly, the Sydney Games proved to be Torres' most successful; she won two more gold medals, both in relays, and earned her first individual Olympic medals: three bronzes medals in the 50m free, 100m free and 100m butterfly.
Back again ... again
Torres began swimming during her pregnancy in 2005 as a way to stay in shape. She swam three or four times a week, with no intentions of staging a comeback. But after giving birth to daughter Tessa in April 2006, Torres' first question was, "When can I start working out again?" She launched her Olympic campaign in August 2006, recruiting full-time trainers to help her return to form. Her team of assistants includes her coach, Michael Lohberg, as well as two stretchers, a strength coach, two massage therapists and a sprint coach.
Straight to the top
One year after beginning her comeback, Torres won the 50m free at Nationals, breaking her own American record in the event, which she had set seven years earlier at the Sydney Olympics. Perhaps more remarkable is that the title, her 15th career national title, came 25 years after her first, which was in 1982 at age 14. Torres held Tessa, who was 15 months old at the time, on the awards stand when collecting her medal.
From the Hills to the Gators
Born and raised in Beverly Hills, Calif., Torres grew up in a nine-bedroom mansion with a backyard pool, where she began to swim at age 7. Torres left home at age 16 to train in Mission Viejo before attending the University of Florida. Following a successful career with the Gators where she earned 28 All-America honors, she graduated in 1989 with a broadcasting degree. After using her four years of swimming eligibility, Torres played volleyball as an outside hitter during her senior year.
During college, Torres interned at CNN and NBC Sports. After graduation, she worked part-time for NBC for 10 months before deciding to stage a comeback in March of 1991. After her second retirement in 1992, Torres stayed busy with television and modeling. She was the first female athlete to appear in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in 1994. She did television commentary for ESPN, TNT, Fox News and Fox Sports and hosted a short-lived science and technology show on the Discovery Channel. She also became widely known as a spokeswoman for Tae-Bo workout tapes and infomercials and says that some younger swimmers know her more for Tae-Bo than for her swimming career. In 2004, Torres worked as a swimming commentator for NBC's broadcast from Athens.
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