Dara Torres grew up in California and began swimming at an early age. By the time she was 14, she had competed in her first international swimming competition, and in 2012 at the age of 45, she attempted to set a record for the oldest Olympic swimmer to compete, but failed to make the team. She has won 12 Olympic medals and ties Jenny Thompson as the most decorated U.S. female swimmer.
Dara Torres was born on April 15, 1967, in Beverly Hills, California, and attended the Westlake School for Girls (now Harvard-Westlake School), swimming for the school’s swim team. She set her first national record at age 12 and entered her first international swimming competition two years later. Torres competed in her first Olympics in 1984, in Los Angeles, and was a member of the winning U.S. women's 4x100–meter relay team.
In 1986, Torres accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, where she swam for the Gators until 1989. While there, she earned 28 NCAA All-American swimming awards, the most possible, and was named NCAA Swimmer of the Year and Southeastern Conference's Athlete of the Year (both in 1988).
Olympic Returns and Medals
Torres competed in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, where she earned a bronze medal in the 4x100–meter freestyle relay and a silver for the freestyle leg of the 4x100–meter medley relay.
After leaving Gainesville, Dara Torres swam in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, picking up another gold medal; the 2000 Sydney Games, where she won five medals; and the 2008 Beijing Games, where she carried her medal tally to 12. The Beijing games were also notable for Torres because that year she became the oldest Olympic swimmer in history and set an American record by participating in her fifth Olympic Games, which was especially impressive considering that she sat out the 1996 and 2004 Games.
In 2007, at age 40, she won the 100-meter freestyle at the U.S. Nationals and three days later beat her own American 50-meter freestyle record, just 15 months after giving birth to her first child (and 26 years after she initially set the record).
In 2012, at the age of 45, Torres returned to the pool and attempted to set a record for the oldest Olympic swimmer to compete, but failed to make the 2012 Olympic team. With 12 Olympic medals, however, she remains tied with Jenny Thompson as the most decorated U.S. female swimmer.
Dara Torres has also appeared as a commentator on Fox News, ESPN and the Discovery Channel and was the first female athlete to be featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue (the magazine named her one of the Top Female Athletes of the decade in 2009).
Torres’ memoir, Age Is Just a Number: Achieve Your Dreams at Any Stage in Your Life, appeared in April 2009, and her second book, Gold Medal Fitness: A Revolutionary 5-Week Program, was published in May 2010.
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