Monday, August 18, 2008

Dara Torres: The Epitome of the Olympic Spirit

I wanted to hate Dara Torres from the moment I saw her incredibly toned body and steely abs. What other 41 year old woman looks like that? None that I know. So I tried to console myself with the idea that maybe all she does is eat, sleep and live training. That HAD to be the answer. Nope. She has a two year old daughter. No good mother exclusively eats, sleeps and lives anything if they have a child, and Dara seems like a good mother. Damn. Then maybe she's so super focused on her swimming that she ignores the other competitors. Nope. You can see her chatting it up and laughing with all the other women swimmers between her events, no matter where they come from or how old they are. Double damn.

But this is the episode that really clenched my fangirl attitude for Dara.

During the preliminaries for the 100 meter freestyle, Dara and the rest of the swimmers were to get on their blocks for their heat. Instead, Dara passed the other swimmers and went to speak to the official. She then returned to her block, talking to the other women as she went, and it was noted by the commentator that lane 8's swimmer wasn't out of the locker room. Within a minute, the straggler jogged out and everyone got on their blocks. The heat began and Dara qualified for the finals (or semifinals--I can't recall and it really doesn't matter). So what had Dara gone to the official about? The late swimmer, from Switzerland I believe, had torn her suit just before the heat was to begin. While she changed into a new one, Dara let the official and the other swimmers know what was happening, that the young woman was on her way, and that they would be holding the start of the heat until the last swimmer was out there. She told the official they would be waiting. Not asked. Told.

When the heat was over and the interviewer at pool-side caught up to Dara, she asked what had happened. Dara explained, then said, in effect, "We're competitors in the pool, but outside of it we're friends."

That is why you, Dara Torres, embody the Olympic Spirit. Dedication that has you capable of competing--and kicking ass--in your 5th Games. An openness and warmth that makes competitors friends. Good sportsmanship that extends beyond the pool or playing field.

Congratulations on your medals in these Games, Dara. I will never have your abs, but I can strive to achieve your attitude.



At 4:44 PM, Blogger Tracy Montoya said...

I didn't catch nearly half as much of the Olympics as I should have. Stupid summer work schedules--July and August are always a blur. But I love Dara Torres. And I hope to God we never find out she was doping. Marion Jones made me postal.

At 7:45 PM, Blogger Cathy in AK said...

We've been watching for the better part of the games. Even taking in events we wouldn't normally watch. Badmitton, anyone? How about fencing or speed walking or water polo? It's been fun, though.

And yes, Tracy, Marion Jones was a huge disappointment. Dara has been saying since the beginning that she's clean and would submit to any drug test out there. I have to assume she is because thinking she isn't is just too depressing.

At 6:31 AM, Blogger Writer and Cat said...

I watched exactly zero Olympics this year. Now if I can get through the fall and winter and say the same about football, I'll consider that a REAL accomplishment.


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