Age-defying Torres keeps dream alive

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 1, 2012 - 8:03 PM

The five-time Olympian recorded the third-fastest time in the 50-meter freestyle semifinals.

Dara Torres celebrated after a strong effort in the semifinals of the 50-meter freestyle Sunday. Torres, 45, is bidding to qualify for her sixth Olympics.

Photo: Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

OMAHA - With one more Olympic medal, swimmer Dara Torres would break her tie with Jenny Thompson as the most decorated American woman in her sport. But the hardware isn't what inspired Torres on Sunday, when she swam in the semifinals of the women's 50-meter freestyle at the U.S. Olympic trials.

Torres pulled off an astonishing feat in 2008, when she made her fifth Olympic team at age 41. She's upping the ante now at age 45. Already the oldest female swimmer ever to compete in the Games and the only American swimmer to compete in five Olympics, Torres still is driven to compete in London, 28 years after she made her first Olympic appearance in Los Angeles.

Her time of 24.80 seconds Sunday was the third-fastest of the semifinal heats at CenturyLink Center, where her age-defying performance made her a favorite of the crowd of 12,406. While she was happy with her time, Torres said there were only two numbers that mattered to her this week: one or two, where she must finish in Monday's finals to make the team.

At the other end of the age spectrum Sunday, Missy Franklin won the 200 backstroke to set up an ambitious agenda for London. Franklin, 17, finished in 2:06.12, the fastest time in the world this year. She also won the 100 back at the trials in American-record time, finished second in the 100 and 200 freestyles and qualified for all three relays; if she swims that entire program, she would be the first American woman to compete in seven Olympic events.

Also on Sunday, Anthony Ervin made the Olympic team in the 50 free, and Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte put their rivalry to rest until they meet in London.

Phelps prevailed in the 100 butterfly Sunday, shooting from sixth place at the turn to win in 51.14 seconds, while Lochte finished third behind Tyler McGill. Phelps won three of their four head-to-head races at the trials, but Lochte called it a "training meet'' and said he anticipated what he could do on full rest at the Olympics.

Torres said she has enjoyed watching their ongoing matchup in Omaha. Other swimmers have enjoyed watching her, inspired by her ability to remain among the fastest sprinters in America.

"It's a totally different approach than I had when I was 17, at my first Olympics,'' Torres said. "It's much tougher. People said I was middle-aged at 41, but I'm really, really middle-aged now.

"When I look back on all the medals I've won, that's not the great part about it. The great part about it is staying in for so long. My mindset, my mentality, has changed over the years. I appreciate it so much more now, what it takes to be an elite athlete.''

In Sunday morning's preliminaries, Torres swam the fifth-fastest time -- 25 seconds flat -- while conserving energy for the semifinals. At 45, she does not recover as quickly from those all-out swims, which she said is the biggest difference these days. The older she gets, the more carefully she must manage every detail of her training and racing to maximize her results.

After winning three silver medals at the 2008 Olympics, Torres had reconstructive knee surgery in 2009. She has found every aspect of her training more challenging than before, but that has only fueled her desire. She said she still had not given her ultimate effort.

Torres hopes that will happen Monday, when only first or second place will do. "I'm very excited to be in the final,'' she said. "I'm ecstatic.''


  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Chicago Cubs - J. Arrieta 11:35 AM
Cincinnati - D. Axelrod
NY Yankees - H. Kuroda 12:08 PM
Detroit - K. Lobstein
Colorado - J. Lyles 2:45 PM
San Francisco - Y. Petit
Tampa Bay - J. Hellickson 6:05 PM
Baltimore - B. Norris
Atlanta - M. Minor 6:10 PM
NY Mets - J. Niese
Cleveland - C. Carrasco 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - J. Danks
Minnesota - T. Milone 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Guthrie
Texas - N. Tepesch 7:10 PM
Houston - C. McHugh
Oakland - S. Gray 9:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Wilson
Atlanta 5:00 PM
Detroit 6:00 PM
Indianapolis 6:00 PM
Kansas City 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 6:00 PM
St. Louis 6:00 PM
Carolina 6:30 PM
New England 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 7:00 PM
Denver 7:00 PM
Minnesota 7:00 PM
San Francisco 7:00 PM
Arizona 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 9:00 PM
(21) Texas A&M 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 6:02 PM
Boise State 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 7:00 PM
Temple 8:15 PM
Rutgers 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM





question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers do in their football opener?

Weekly Question


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters