Like all good red-blooded Americans, I love the Olympics. The Summer Olympics have always been my favorite, since the days when my friend Anne and I set up a gymnastics course for our Barbies and got in big trouble for cutting off one of the doll’s hair so that she’d look more like Kerri Strug. I also love the Summer Olympics because I used to be moderately hardcore swimmer, and I’m pretty pumped because the Olympics Trials for swimming take place this week in Omaha, Nebraska.
I swam year-round for about six years, and looking back a couple years later, I’m shocked at my dedication. I was never an earth-shatteringly good swimmer; I was more of a solid member of a good relay team, and the closest I ever got to the Olympics was watching them on TV. Still, swimming takes a lot of practice, even for swimmers of my level. Back in the day, my summers were filled with two-a-day practices, which included about two hours of swimming each, plus some form of dryland training. Now if I manage to stay on a treadmill for 30 minutes I pat myself on the back. Sad, isn’t it?
The point is, after a mere six years of pretty consistent hard work, I was more or less burnt out and done with the sport. Which is part of why I’m floored by the story of Dara Torres.
The 41-year-old Torres broke her first world record in the 50 freestyle when she was 14, in 1982, and has been competing at the Olympic level ever since. That makes for about a quarter-century of really freaking hard work (with a couple of fake retirements thrown in). According to the New York Times’ profile of Torres, if she makes the Olympic team this year, it will be her fifth time on the team, making her the first American to compete in five Olympics AND the oldest female swimmer in the history of the Games. She’ll be competing against people who were born after she set her first world record. I’ll be lucky if I’m still able to stay afloat in a pool at 41.
According to the article, Torres is crazy dedicated and super competitive, and it takes “a head coach, a sprint coach, a strength coach, two stretchers, two masseuses, a chiropractor and a nanny,” to keep her performing at an Olympic level. And did I mention she has a child? Just a few months after her daughter, Tessa Grace, was born in 2006, she raced at the Masters World Championships.
I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on Torres this week, along with her fellow old-timer, 33-year-old rebel Gary Hall, Jr. Both will be competing in the 50 freestyle, with the men’s finals on Saturday, July 5, and the women’s finals on Sunday the 6th.
Here’s a photo of Torres looking crazy in-shape with her daughter, Tessa:
And one of Gary Hall Jr.:
Good luck, you two crazy kids!
[Posted by Mallory]