When Dara Torres takes the starting block at the Olympic Trials this month, all eyes will be on the 45-year-old swimmer as she vies for a spot on her sixth and final Olympic team. Despite the fact that most of her rivals are less than half her age, the 12-time medalist is out to prove the thesis of her book, Age Is Just a Number! As she prepares for London, Dara shares her secrets to a healthy and youthful life.
Spry: What do you hope to accomplish at the 2012 games?
Dara: I don’t feel like I have to prove anything to anyone but myself. I’m competing again because I love the sport, and also because my daughter, Tessa, is now 6 and can understand the importance of what is happening and how special it really is.
Spry: How do you stay competitive against swimmers who may be much younger?
Dara: Swimming is 80 percent mental, and staying positive and determined is key to being successful in and out of the water. These days I train smarter, not necessarily longer, and emphasize recovery much more so than I did when I was younger. This has made me a stronger athlete and much faster in the pool.
Spry: How do you think the U.S. swimming team will do in the London games?
Dara: I predict the team will be incredibly fast. We have some great up-and-coming swimmers like Amanda Weir, Madison Kennedy and Jessica Hardy. Either way, I try to focus on myself in the pool and no one else.
Spry: Describe your diet and exercise regimen.
Dara: As an athlete, I have to be very aware about what I put into my body to be able to perform at an optimal level. I make sure to incorporate the right amounts of lean proteins, healthy carbs and fats into every meal. I eat about six to seven small meals a day and consume natural supplements to keep my energy levels high. I have to eat enough to sustain me as I work out in the pool for hours each day and then hit the weight room. I’ve built a strong core that helps to carry me through the water easier and faster.
Spry: You’re known for saying age is just a number. What’s next for you after the Olympics?
Dara: I plan on spending more time with my daughter. Currently, I train around her schedule so I don’t miss a thing, but after the games, I’ll have the whole day to spend with her! I am also passionate about motivational speaking. My plan is to travel the world speaking to women and companies, connecting with people on how to improve their lives and pursue their dreams.
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Spry: What advice do you have for people who are starting to feel their age?
Dara: I tell other swimmers, “The water doesn’t know how old you are.” The same rule applies to the golf course, the tennis court, the office, and so on. For me, the water doesn’t know my age, so it doesn’t give me any breaks. As you get older, you might have to change how you do things, but nothing should prevent you from reaching your goals. Whatever your particular dream or goal is, my philosophy is: Age should never be a reason not to go for it. •