Q and A With Olympic Swimmer Dara Torres
From a US swimming fan perspective, what a great swim meet. How fun was being a part of that?
Words can't even describe the emotions I felt being a part of the 2008 Olympic swim team. It really was such an amazing experience and such a great group of kids to have as teammates.
How much are you doing now compared to the lead-up to Beijing?
The swimming part has decreased a tad because I'm just training for the 50 free, but I'm still doing the same amount of dry land training.
What does your daughter Tessa think about your swimming and related training regimen - does she want to join in, give mom some help?
She actually helps with my stretching. She pulls up a chair and starts mashing me with her feet then she pushes me off the mat so she can get stretched and mashed too. She loves swimming; she grabs my swim caps and walks around the house with them on her head.
How crazy was it leading up to Beijing, and how does that compare to the lead-up to other Olympics? How are things these days? Do you fall into a semi-routine, is life a series of surprises at times, or something else?
The biggest difference between Beijing and previous Olympics was that I've never had so many eyes on me, so many people wanting me to perform well and prove that I could do this at my age. Things are crazy busy these days with motivational talks and getting ready for my book tour. I'm a very routine oriented person so I try to keep a routine especially with my daughter but because of all the appearances I've had to adjust.
What message do you want readers to take away from your new book, Age is Just a Number? What made you want to write a book now?
My goal has always been to communicate to people - both men and women - that age is not the defining factor in their lives. It is a contributing factor. With age comes wisdom and experience. I am a much better person, mother and athlete today than I was or would have been at 30. Also, I hope readers recognize that the only limitation to a better, happier and more fulfilling life is a lack of motivation to continually push your walls of complacency.
I was asked to write a book when I made my first comeback at age 33 but it just didn't feel right. I think at that time, I wasn't really communicating a message that was unique and different. It took me all of these years to find my "voice". Once that happened, and with the thousands of people who come up to me, e mail me or blog about my accomplishments, I just felt it was time to let the cat out of the bag a little bit. I am no more special than my neighbor with three children who works or a school teacher who is a mom and a devoted wife. Life is about overcoming challenges one at a time in the best way you can with the most credibility and dedication to those around you who have helped you directly or indirectly every day.
You have an extended high-level swimming career (awesome!). You are still racing, winning the 50 Free at the March 2009 Austin Grand Prix. What is it about swimming - or about you - that keeps you in the pool?
The fact that I love this sport and I'm still improving motivates me to keep going. Plus I love to race and compete.
What are your favorite pre and post swim foods or meals?
Before I swim I like to drink a Living Fuel shake. It provides me with a solid nutritional base that allows my body to work at its best day in and day out, and it gives me the energy I need to compete at the highest level. I also take Fitness Nutrition Amino Acids which help build and repair muscle tissue post-swimming.
Everyone these days (late 2008/early 2009) is talking about swim suits. I think most folks know that you held up an Olympic race to help another competitor when her suit malfunctioned. What's your take on the advances in "competitive swimming" apparel (I am trying to stay brand neutral here - you don't need to be).
In every sport there's going to be equipment advancement, that's just normal progression. The advancement wasn't as much of a surprise as the fact that they seemed to be three steps ahead and improved them probably five years earlier than what was expected.
How is your shoulder? Any other things that you have found to watch for/be careful with as you continue to mature?
My shoulder is great! After my second surgery, it's the best that it's felt in years. One thing I have to watch out for is arthritis in my knee. Outside of swimming, I also like to run and the pounding of my feet on the pavement puts incremental stress on my knees. Swimming really is the best because it's non-impact exercise.
You are a part of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) - cool. As your daughter moves through school (she is two+ years old now, so this is looking well down the road) how do you see yourself as a school mom?
I like to be as involved as possible in my daughter's life. My mom was president of the local PTA in Beverly Hills and I try to follow mom's footsteps, being a good role model. Even with a crazy schedule, I still keep in touch with Tessa's teachers and always am up-to-date with what's going on.
Dara, thank you for your time, congratulations on your successes, and all the best for your future.