Dara Torres life and biography

Dara Torres picture, image, poster

Dara Torres biography

Date of birth : 1967-04-15
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Nationality : American
Category : Sports
Last modified : 2010-06-18
Credited as : Olympic swimmer, ,

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Dara Torres born April 15, 1967 in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States is an American Olympic swimmer .

Swimmer Dara Torres stands to become the first American to compete in five Olympiads when the 2008 Summer Games convenes in Beijing, China. Torres at age 41 is the oldest American swimmer to qualify for the Olympics. She has won nine medals, including five in the 2000 Games in Sydney, Australia, dating to 1984, and has engineered several comebacks. "At an age when most swimmers are enjoying retirement, starting second careers, and having children--all of which Torres has done--the California native has gotten back into the pool," Rachel Blount wrote in Star Tribune of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Won First Gold in 1984

Torres was born in Beverly Hills, California, the fifth of six children of Edward and Marylu Torres. She followed her brothers to youth swimming practice and took to the sport. She broke the world record in the 50-meter freestyle at age 14. As a high school junior, she moved to Mission Viejo, California, to train for the 1984 Olympics. Despite first-time jitters, Torres helped the United States win gold in the 400-meter freestyle relay in the '84 Games in Los Angeles, California.

After earning 28 awards while swimming for the University of Florida--she graduated in 1990--Torres returned to the Olympics in 1988, winning medals only in relays. She took bronze in the 400 free and silver in the 400 medley. She struggled individually. Torres made her first retirement after her college career ended, but came back and helped her 400 free team win another gold in the 1992 Games in Barcelona, Spain.

Torres appeared in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in the 1990s, married and divorced Jeff Gowen, and kept fit through such activities as cycling and playing basketball. But with the 2000 Games in Sydney looming, Torres felt the urge to return. Rowdy Gaines, who qualified for the Olympics in 1996 at age 35 told Elizabeth Weil of the New York Times Magazine that Torres has "the perfect swimmer's body; really, it's the picture they'd draw in the dictionary." David Hoffman, Torres's partner and the father of their two-year-old daughter, Tessa, told Weil her personality is "not Type A. She's Type A + +."

"I'm So Freaking Competitive"

Torres won two more golds in Sydney with the 400 free and 400 medley relays, and individual bronze medals in the 50 and 100 freestyle, and 100 butterfly. After those Olympics, she married and divorced Israeli surgeon Itzhak Shasha and became the first woman to win the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach car race. "I'm so freaking competitive it's unbelievable," she told Weil. Torres, a communications major in college, has also worked on-air for ESPN, TNT, and Fox News.

After missing the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece, Torres gave birth a year later to Tessa. Swimming for fitness again became a competitive obsession. Torres, wrote Weil, would race "whoever the middle-aged guy happened to be in the next lane," even late into her pregnancy. Age requires Torres to take longer between workouts, but her regimen is quite elaborate. "Torres's retinue includes a head coach, a sprint coach, a strength coach, two stretchers, two masseuses, a chiropractor and a nanny, at the cost of at least $100,000 per year," Weil wrote.

Questions Linger about Doping

Realizing her accomplishments at her age expose her to doping accusations--especially in light of steroid scandals surrounding U.S. track star Marion Jones and baseball players Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens--Torres has volunteered for more extensive drug testing. In 2007, Torres agreed to participate in a program run by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. But according to the Los Angeles Times, she has admitted to media outlets she is allowed under a therapeutic use exemption to use formoterol and albuterol--otherwise banned for athletes. Both substances increase lung capacity.

Columnist Philip Hersh was skeptical. "Why don't I give Dara the benefit of the doubt? Marion Jones. Antonio Pettigrew. Both runners failed no tests and swore they were clean until the feds forced them to tell the truth. There are many more," Hersh wrote in the Los Angeles Times. Hersh also said that Torres-related publicity by NBC, which is televising the Beijing Games, is effectively concealing questions about doping. Pat McGann wrote in the News Herald of Panama City, Florida, wrote: "The Dara Torres story is so sweet, and the mere sight of the 41-year-old woman so compelling, that everything tugs at your insides to want it to be pure and simple." He added: "But this is what my brain tells my heart: world-class athletes in sports who compete against time don't get faster at age 41 than they were at 21 unless a syringe is involved."

Returns for Fifth Olympiad

In July of 2008, Torres, who lives in Parkland, Florida, won the 50- and 100-meter freestyle events at the Olympic trials in Omaha, Nebraska, and set a U.S. record in the 50 free. She later said she would only compete in the 50 in Beijing. The cheers from a crowd of 13,247 had her in tears as she exited the pool..

Her coach, Michael Lohberg, said Torres would be less pressured than her teammates. "What's the worst thing that can happen to her? She goes home to her daughter and her partner," Lohberg told Weil. "Her whole sense of self-worth doesn't come down to tenths and hundredths of seconds in a pool."


Southeastern Conference Athlete of the Year; International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

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