One for the History BooksPosted July 5, 2008, 9:37 am in Sports
Credit Growing Bolder
Forget Rocky. This is the real deal. A comeback story for the ages. And the aged. What Dara Torres accomplished at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha, Nebraska borders on the unthinkable.
The 41-year-old mother set a new American record to win the 50-meter freestyle and wrap up one of the most amazing chapters in swimming history. Now she's off to Beijing to take on the world. "I can't lie and say, `Oh, I'm just glad I'm going,''' said Torres, whose 2-year-old daughter Tessa accompanied her to the award stand. ``I want a medal.''
Torres clinched a spot on her record fifth Olympic team earlier in the Trials by winning the 100m freestyle. She won her first Olympic gold medal the year before Michael Phelps was born. Few thought Torres had any chance of even making even one of the finals at the trials. No one thought she could win two events. No one but Torres.
Torres shocked the world, swimming her fastest times ever to win both the 100-meters and 50-meters, becoming the oldest U.S. Olympic Swimmer ever and the first 5-time Olympic swimmer. The finishes were so close that it took Torres a few moments to realize she had won. "I couldn't see the scoreboard," she said. "It was kind of blurry. They need to make the numbers bigger for people my age."
When Torres came out of a seven-year retirement last year and announced her intention of making the Olympic team, the sport of swimming chuckled. Maybe if everything went perfectly, Torres could finish in the top 6 and make the relay team. But that's not what happened. Torres stole the spotlight from Phelps, the greatest swimmer of all-time, who won 5 events and broke two world records. Phelps didn't seem to mind a bit. "I call her, my mom," he said. "She's 41 with a kid. It's extremely impressive."
Torres arrived at the trials realizing that if she preformed will many would wonder how someone her age could make the team without the help of illegal substances. In a brilliant pre-emptive strike, she volunteered for extra drug testing and was accepted into a new program that subjects athletes to constant testing using the latest technology. Since March, she's been tested at least a dozen times, with five vials of blood drawn from her body each time to look for any signs of illegal drugs. "Anyone who makes any accusations, I take it as a compliment," she said.
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