Update — Janet Evans is also mounting a comeback. From today’s NYT…
I read this article yesterday and am fascinated.
Early in the summer of 1984, my parents bought a new color television set. It had a remote control and didn’t have a visible antennae. I remember coming inside from playing in the summer heat. I’d rest my face on the rug of the living room. It was cool and left funny imprints on my cheeks, elbows and legs as I watched the Los Angeles Olympics.
By this time, Dara Torres was already a star. She is eight years older than I am and at age fifteen — 1981 — she set an American record in the 50 meter freestyle. In 1984, I had participated in a summer-only swim team and by the end of the summer, was able to complete a 50 meter freestyle. She was winning a gold medal. She has now won four gold, four silver and four bronze and medaled in five different Olympic Games. She is a contender for the Olympic trials this year — perhaps even the favorite.
I don’t remember Dara Torres from this era. I remember Rowdy Gaines, Steve Lunquist, Rick Carey, the amazing Matt Biondi, Mary T. Meagher, and my favorite, Pablo Morales. Notably, Gaines, Morales and Torres have all been hailed at one time or another as “oldest Olympic champion.” The thing is, Torres has had that distinction several times now.
There is so much to say about her career it is hard to know where to start. There is the obvious longevity as well as focus on mental discipline, scientific approach to training, competing clean — competing clean against Eastern bloc athletes who did not, being a role model, being a model. I really don’t know where to start. But, I’ll end with this thought:
After reading the Washington Post story, I hope that the breakthroughs she, her coaching staff and others like her have in the development of regenerative health go mainstream before I get too much older. The funny imprints left on my body by training are a lot different than when I’d flop down as a 10 year old. Today, the trade-offs are much more visible. Regular exercise is paramount for cardiovascular health and a stressor on my joints and connective tissues. Fitness gives me energy throughout the day and makes me want to collapse before my three year old is ready to put away books for the night. I don’t want to do what Dara Torres does, but I do look forward to benefiting from what she discovers along the way to the next stage of a remarkable career.