Dara Torres, for the time being, is proving that you are never too old for anything.
Torres was born on April 15, 1967. From young, she displayed an extremely competitive streak. Her mother recalled she would she would swim halfway across the pool and then stop and turn around so she could beat her teammates back to the wall!
In 1982, at the tender age of 14, she broke the world record in 50m freestyle. The Olympic journey for Torres began in year 1984, at the Los Angeles Games. A then 17 year old girl, she made splashing headlines by setting the then world record for 50m swimming.
Her remarkable college life included an amazing 28 NCAA All-American Swimming awards, the maximum possible for a college career.
She then retired from swimming but made a stunning comeback to win two relay Golds, and three Individual Bronzes in the 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle and 100m butterfly in Sydney 2000 Olympics. This was accomplished despite a seven year absence.
In 2005, she became pregnant with Tessa Grace. She recalled having terrible morning sickness, and in her own words, “I rather throw up in the pool gutters than next to the StairMaster”. That started her comeback journey.
In 2006, after Tessa Grace was born, Torres took up swimming to lose the weight she gained during pregnancy. What began as a weight loss program soon turned to something more and she found herself posting competitive times. She made the decision to compete and win a place in the 2008 Olympics.
It was not all always smooth sailing for Torres. She had to undergo two surgeries in the last eight months, on her shoulder and knee.
She also discovered the cruel effect of age on her recovery times. What used to be effortless 10-12 times a week training had to be scaled down to 5 times a week.
Many people were simply astounded by her performance. Kinder remarks claimed its impossible to achieve her feat. The evil versions pointed to her taking performance enhancing drugs.
Her record breaking feats last month brought up two questions among many. Other than the inevitable “Drugs” question, many people wanted to know her strategy for compete at such intensity despite her age.
Her answer? Resistance Training.
It was obvious she cannot train the same way as her younger teammates. Torres have a team of coaches, and therapist to aid in her training and her recovery. In addition to her head coach Michael Lohberg, she also hired a sprint coach, Chris Jackson, strength coach Andy O’Brien, and her self-proclaimed “secret weapon”, her personal stretchers Steve Sierra and Anne Tierney. She also have a masseuse, physical therapist and a chiropractor.
If I could sum up her strategy, it would be that Torres focused as much efforts on recovery as on training.
A Humiliating Experience From Darra Torres
Were you told that after giving birth you cannot perform as well as before? Well, quoting from “Pursuit Of Happiness” starring Will Smith, its time to tell yourself, “Do not let anyone tell you can or cannot again!”
Lindsay Davenport, ex world number 1 in Tennis, won a tennis tournament 3 months after giving birth. Paula Radcliffe, renowned female marathoner, won the New York City Marathon 10 months after giving birth. Now who says mums can’t play?
Some of us, including myself, ought to be ashamed of ourselves. At age 27 years old, a couple of years after graduation from college, I often gave myself excuses for not being to compete at the same intensity as before. I would tell myself that it is “okie” for me because I am now working and I am too “old” as compared to the under 20s that played the game.
Perhaps some of you are feeling the same way too. Or perhaps some of you have friends or family that despite their well intentions, placed labels that you are “too old for this”, “you are already a mother!”, or “its time for you to settle down and start a family”.
Reading about Torres, I know its time to tear away those labels, and start living life the way I want to.
Nothing beats the satisfaction of winning. Anyone who has played sports and won before will know what I am talking about.