Dara Torres

Dara Torres

Torres waves to the crowd after winning the silver medal in the 50-meter freestyle at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Personal information
Full name Dara Grace Torres
Nickname(s) "DT"
Nationality  United States
Born April 15, 1967 (1967-04-15) (age 44)
Beverly Hills, California, USA
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight 150 lb (68 kg)
Sport Swimming
Stroke(s) Butterfly, freestyle
Club Culver City
College team University of Florida

Dara Grace Torres (born April 15, 1967) is an American international swimmer and a twelve-time Olympic medalist. Torres was the first swimmer from the United States to compete in five Olympic Games (1984, 1988, 1992, 2000 and 2008), and, at age 41, the oldest swimmer ever to earn a place on the U.S. Olympic team. At the 2008 Summer Olympics, she competed in the 50-meter freestyle, 4x100-meter medley relay, and 4x100-meter freestyle relay, and won silver medals in all three events.[2]

Torres has won twelve Olympic medals (four gold, four silver, four bronze), five of which she won in the 2000 Summer Olympics, when at age 33, she was the oldest member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic Swim Team. She has also won at least one medal in each of the five Olympics in which she has competed, making her one of only a handful of Olympians to earn medals in five different Games.[3]

On August 1, 2007, at age 40 (just 15 months after giving birth to her first child), she won gold in the 100-meter freestyle at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, her 14th national championship. On August 4, she broke her own American record in the 50-meter freestyle, 26 years after she first set the American record at just 15 years old.


Early life and education

Torres was born in Beverly Hills, California, the daughter of Edward Torres and Marylu Kauder.[4] She grew up in Los Angeles, California, the fifth of six children and the older of two girls. At age 7, Torres started following her brothers to swim practice at the local Y.M.C.A. and later joined the Culver City swim team.

She attended the Westlake School for Girls (now Harvard-Westlake School), and swam for the Westlake swim team under coach Darlene Bible, where she set California Interscholastic Federation records that remain to this day. As a teenager in the 1980s, she swam for the Mission Viejo Nadadores, in Mission Viejo, California, under coach Mark Schubert, the 2008 Olympic swimming coach.

Torres received an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, where she swam for the Florida Gators swimming and diving team in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) competition under coach Randy Reese from 1985 to 1989. In her four years as a Gator swimmer, Torres won nine Southeastern Conference (SEC) championships and nine NCAA championships, including the 400-meter freestyle relay in 1986; the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle, 100-meter butterfly, 200-meter medley relay, 400-meter medley relay and 400-meter freestyle relay in 1988; and the 200-meter medley relay and 400-meter medley relay in 1989. At Florida, she was named the SEC Athlete of the Year in 1988, and earned twenty-eight All-American swimming honors—the maximum number possible during a college career.[5]

Torres graduated from Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications in 1990, and was inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame as a "Gator Great" in 1999.[6][7]

Olympic career

1984 Summer Olympics

At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California, Torres was a member of the winning U.S. women's 4x100-meter relay team, earning a gold medal for swimming in the first-round qualifying heat as well the event final. Her winning teammates in the final event included Nancy Hogshead, Jenna Johnson and Carrie Steinseifer; Jill Sterkel and Mary Wayte also swam in the event's second-round qualifying heat.

1988 Summer Olympics

For the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea, Torres qualified for the U.S. women's team in one individual event and two relay events. Torres earned a bronze medal for swimming for the third-place U.S. women's team in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay final together with Mitzi Kremer, Laura Walker and Mary Wayte; and won a silver medal for swimming the freestyle leg of the 4x100-meter medley relay in the third heat of the qualifying round for the second-place U.S. team. Torres also placed seventh in the final of the 100-meter freestyle event.

1992 Summer Olympics

Torres qualified for the U.S. Olympic women's team in a single event for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. She swam the second leg of the 4x100-meter freestyle relay for the winning U.S. team that included Nicole Haislett, Angel Martino and Jenny Thompson, and earned a gold medal for her efforts in the final event and first-round qualifying heat. Ashley Tappin and Chrissy Ahmann also swam for the team in the qualifying heats of the event.

2000 Summer Olympics

Torres won five medals at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, but, as usual, saved her best for two of the major relay events of the U.S. Olympic women's team. She swam the second leg for the winning U.S. women's team in final of the 4x100-meter freestyle team that included Amy Van Dyken, Courtney Shealy and Jenny Thompson, with Erin Phenix and Ashley Tappin also swimming in the qualifying rounds. Torres won a second gold medal for anchoring the winning U.S. team in the 4x100-meter medley relay, together with teammates B.J. Bedford, Megan Quann and Jenny Thompson in the final, and Courtney Shealy, Staciana Stitts, Ashley Tappin and Amy Van Dyken in the qualifying rounds. Torres also earned three individual bronze medals in each of the 50-meter freestyle, the 100-meter butterfly and the 100-meter freestyle—tying teammate Jenny Thompson for third place in the last event. At 33 years old, Torres was already the oldest member of the U.S. Olympic swim team, but won more medals (5) than any other team member.

2008 Summer Olympics

Torres at the Missouri Grand Prix (2008-02-16)

At age 41, Torres returned to the pool to obtain a spot in her fifth Olympic Games, unprecedented for an American female swimmer, especially given the fact that she sat out the 1996 and 2004 Olympic games. In fact, she is the first woman in history to swim in the Olympics past the age of 40.[citation needed] Her Olympic career spans twenty-four years.

On July 5, 2008, she qualified for the finals in the 50-meter freestyle that were held on July 6. In that semi-final, she broke the American record with a time of 24.38 seconds. On July 6, in the finals she broke that record for the ninth time, setting it at 24.25 seconds and winning the top American women's spot in the 50-meter freestyle. On July 7, Torres confirmed that she would be pulling out of 100-meter freestyle swim for her time at the Beijing Olympics to focus her efforts on the 50-meter freestyle. Lacey Nymeyer took over the position from Torres. On July 30, at the U.S. swim team's final training in Singapore, Torres, together with Amanda Beard and Natalie Coughlin were elected captains of the U.S. Olympic women's swimming team.[8]

In order to pre-empt any speculation that she might be taking performance-enhancing drugs, Torres volunteered for an enhanced drug-testing program. According to her, when people ask if she is on performance-enhancing drugs, she takes it as a compliment.[9] Torres uses resistance stretching with trainers Anne Tierney and Steve Sierra from Innovative Body Solutions and refers to this training as her "secret weapon" for continued success.[10]

Torres won silver on August 10, 2008, at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing as the anchor swimmer of the U.S. 4x100-meter freestyle relay. This was the fifth time in five tries she has earned an Olympic medal in that event.

On August 17, 2008, at the age of 41 years and 125 days, she won the silver medal in the women's 50-meter freestyle, finishing in a new American record time of 24.07, 0.01 of a second behind the winner, Britta Steffen. About thirty-five minutes later, she won another silver medal as part of the U.S. 4x100-meter medley relay team. Torres' split on the 4x100 medley relay (52.27) is the fastest 100-meter freestyle split in relay history. The American record for the women's 100-meter freestyle as an individual event was 53.39 seconds as of August 2008, making Torres' time a full second faster—fast even for a relay split.

Torres' twelve Olympic medals tie the all-time medal record for a female Olympic swimmer with fellow American Jenny Thompson. Eight of Thompson's medals were gold, compared with Torres' four. However, Torres has won twice as many individual medals (4) as Thompson (2), Thompson having won ten medals in relay team events.

2009 National and World Championships

At the U.S. National Championships, Torres won the 50-meter freestyle and placed in the 50-met butterfly to qualify to swim at the 2009 World Championships in Rome, Italy. This was the first time since 1986 that Torres competed in the World Championships; she placed eighth in the 50-meter freestyle and she did not advance beyond the qualifying heats in the 50-meter butterfly.

2012 Summer Olympics

Following reconstructive surgery of one of her knees, Torres stated in September 2010 that she had begun training with the goal of competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England.[11]

Personal life

Torres in the 2010 Heart Truth fashion show

Torres has worked in television as a reporter and announcer for American networks such as NBC, ESPN, TNT, OLN and Fox News Channel. She now hosts the golf show The Clubhouse, on the Resort Sports Network. She is also an occasional model, having appeared in the Sports Illustrated 1994 Swimsuit Issue. In 2005, she was elected to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.[12]

In the mid-1990s, she married and subsequently divorced sports producer Jeff Gowen. Her second marriage was also brief from June 2003 to December 2004, to Israeli-born surgeon Itzhak Shasha.[13] Prior to marrying Shasha, Torres officially converted to Judaism (her late father was Jewish) to formalise her status under Halacha.[4]

Torres is no longer dating her reproductive endocrinologist, David Hoffman, but the two remain close friends. Hoffman was the fertility doctor who treated Torres. When Torres and Shasha separated, Torres and Hoffman began dating. Torres and Hoffman are the parents of Tessa Grace Torres-Hoffman, born in April 2006.[14]

BP Products North America engaged Torres in 2009 to be part of its "Team Invigorate" advertising campaign to inspire others to live "younger for longer."[15] She is the author of the inspirational memoir, Age is Just a Number, published in April 2009, and Gold Medal Fitness, published in May 2010.

In December 2009, The New York Times reported that a sports medicine doctor, Anthony Galea, with whom Torres had previously consulted, was under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for allegedly distributing human growth hormone and the drug Actovegin to professional athletes. Torres said that Dr. Galea's work was limited to draining fluid from her knee and diagnosing a muscle tear.[16]

Torres is a veteran celebrity swimmer for Swim Across America, a charitable organization that raises funds for cancer research, in which she has participated for several years.[17]

See also


  1. ^ "ESPN Sydney Swimming". http://static.espn.go.com/oly/summer00/swimming/index.html. Retrieved March 13, 2009. 
  2. ^ "swimmer Torres washes away generation gap," Agence France-Presse (August 9, 2008). Retrieved July 14, 2010.
  3. ^ Bill Mallon, "Dara Torres and her Olympic bests," Sports-Reference.com (August 11, 2008). Retrieved July 14, 2010
  4. ^ a b "Dara Torres: Biography, TV Guide (undated). Retrieved July 14, 2010.
  5. ^ Elizabeth Weil, "A Swimmer of a Certain Age," The New York Times magazine (June 29, 2008). Retrieved July 14, 2010.
  6. ^ F Club, Hall of Fame, Gator Greats. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  7. ^ Dwight Collins, "UF inductees bask in glory," Ocala Star-Banner, p. 7D (September 11, 1999). Retrieved July 23, 2011.
  8. ^ "U.S. swim teams name captains for Beijing," Los Angeles Times (July 30, 200). Retrieved July 14, 2010.
  9. ^ "Torres: 'I Want To Show People I'm Clean'," WSMV-TV, Nashville, Tennessee (July 7, 2008). Retrieved July 14, 2010.
  10. ^ Karen Crouse, "Torres Is Getting Older, but Swimming Faster," New York Times (November 18, 2007). Retrieved July 13, 2010.
  11. ^ Melissa Rohlin, "43-year-old Dara Torres is training for 2012 Olympics," Los Angeles Times (September 10, 2010). Retrieved September 15, 2010.
  12. ^ International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Elected Members, Dara Torres. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
  13. ^ Jose Lambiet, "Swimmer's ex adds acid to the chlorine," Palm Beach Post (July 12, 2008). Retrieved July 13, 2010.
  14. ^ Sharon Robb, "Parkland Olympian Torres making a big splash," South Florida Sun-Sentinel (July 8, 2008). Retrieved July 13, 2010.
  15. ^ "BP Joins Forces With Five-Time Olympian Dara Torres," DaraTorres.com (February 17, 2009). Retrieved July 14, 2010.
  16. ^ Don Van Natta, Jr., Michael S. Schmidt & Ian Austen, "Sports Medicine Pioneer Subject of Doping Inquiry," The New York Times (December 15, 2009). Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  17. ^ Swim Across America, Olympians, Dara Torres. Retrieved July 13, 2010.


  • Torres, Dara, & Elizabeth Weil, Age is Just a Number: Achieve Your Dreams at Any Stage in Your Life, Broadway Books, New York, New York (2009). ISBN 978-0-7679-3190-8.
  • Torres, Dara, & Billie Fitzpatrick, Gold Medal Fitness: A Revolutionary 5-Week Program, Broadway Books, New York, New York (2010). ISBN 978-0-7679-3194-6.

External links

Preceded by

United States Jill Sterkel
Netherlands Annemarie Verstappen
Women's 50 metres freestyle
world record holder (long course)

January 29, 1983 – July 9, 1983
August 5, 1983 – July 16, 1986
Succeeded by

Netherlands Annemarie Verstappen
Romania Tamara Costache

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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