Dara Torres: Age is just a number

Back in January Manda lent me a copy of Dara Torres’ autobiography ‘Age is just a number’ for some post baby swimspiration. What with having a new baby and all I only just got round to reading it.

I didn’t know much about Dara before the reading the book but her tale is fascinating and it made me realise what an incredible sports woman she is. Dara has competed in five Olympic Games winning a whopping 12 medals. The last games Dara competed was in the 2008 Beijing when she was 41 years old and had a two year old daughter. The book covers the whole of Dara’s career but mainly focuses on her preparation for Beijing, the different strategy she needed as an older athlete and combining motherhood with being a top level athlete.

Dara competed in the Games in 1984 in Los Angeles, 1988 in Seoul and 1992 in Barcelona winning relay medals with Team USA but underperforming in her individual events. She made a come back in 2000 for the Sydney Games finally winning the converted individual medals Bronzes in the 50m and 100m free and 100m butterfly.

When Dara fell pregnant with her much longed for daughter, Tessa she started swimming again for fitness. She soon got the bug again and started planning a comeback after Tessa’s birth. It is really interesting to understand how Dara did things differently an older athlete. In short this meant less mileage, lighter weights and ‘mashing’ a form of resistance stretching. Dara put in her best individual Olympic performance winning silver in the 50m free missing out of Gold by just 0.01 – heartbreaking!

Reading this book has given me some faith that it is possible to get in back the water and even improve after having had a baby. The book took on another dimension for me as while I was reading it my mother passed away suddenly. Dara’s father passed away as she was preparing for the 2008 Games and I found reading about her experience a comfort.

I really enjoyed the book. It is a page turner for swimmers and non swimmers alike.

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