Shining the light on an incredible Olympian: Dara Torres

Perhaps Dara Torres would be getting a little more attention if Michael Phelps wasn’t so busy breaking records and racking up the gold medals. And I think Michael Phelps is great — don’t get me wrong. But he (and his incredible mom) and are everywhere on tv and in the newspaper. So let’s take a moment to honor another athlete, who is pretty amazing herself.

On Friday night, Dara Torres was getting ready to race in the semifinals of the 50-meter freestyle. The two NBC announcers, Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines, were in a tizzy because as the camera focused on Torres sitting by the pool and getting ready, she was talking to another swimmer!.

Rowdy Gaines was having a cow. “You just don’t do that!” he said several times. Well you know what, Rowdy, maybe when you’re 41 years old and have been to a few Olympics (this is her fifth Olympics, by the way), and the swimmer sitting next to you is 16, maybe you do talk to them. Because it’s the decent thing to do. Maybe women do that. I don’t know. I mean, obviously I’ve never competed in anything so competitive as this, but it really didn’t seem that outrageous to me. It actually seemed like it might help a person relax, and therefore swim better.

But then! Poor Rowdy. He was absolutely beside himself. The camera again followed Torres as she walked around the pool to talk to a judge, just moments before the race was to start. Rowdy was trying to figure out what was going on. Torres scooped some water from the pool and splashed it on her goggles and her face. Rowdy was sure it had something to do with this. But wait! Where was the swimmer from Sweden? Could it be that Torres was telling the judge something about the swimmer from Sweden? She’s helping one of the other swimmers?!

As we now know, Torres was indeed helping out Therese Alshammar of Sweden, whose swimsuit tore just before the race was to start. According to Torres, “Therese’s suit ripped when we were getting ready to walk out,” Torres said. “I tried to help her with it, tried to do it up, and it ripped again. So I walked out and was trying to get them to hold the race for her. I was saying, ‘Her suit’s ripped.’ And waving my arms around.”

By the way, Torres won that qualifying race, and then came in second overall for the silver medal. Not bad for a 41-year old mom.

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8 comments

  1. Torres didn’t get the attention because she’s not a “winner.” In the land of medal counts, only gold seems to count.

    And, let’s face it: a 41-year-old mom isn’t as marketable, in the minds of these folks, as a twenty-something studly guy.

    It’s all about the winning.

    Let’s talk about that thing she did on Saturday, where she delayed the start of a race so that one of the other swimmers could change into a new sharksuit after her other one tore. She said later that “in the pool, we’re competitors, but out of the pool, we’re friends.”

    No offense to Mr. Phelps, who seems like a fine young man, but THAT’S a winner to me.

    Sorry to ramble.

  2. Okay, I have no idea why I felt compelled to re-state what you said in your post, which I read thoroughly before I commented. Duh.

    Forgive me: I’m trying to kick coffee. Again. This week…

  3. What Torres did was very decent. *Applause for her*

    And applause for you too, SueJ, for an upbeat post to start the week. (I needed that.)

  4. Dara’s presence in the Olympics is inspirational in and of itself, but this sportsmanlike (if you’ll excuse the gender-biased expression) behavior takes her over the top. Thanks for highlighting it, SueJ.

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