Dara Torres

Posted on December 18, 2009

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Dara Torres Beijing


This past weekend I went to listen to 5-time Olympian and fellow Gator swimmer alum Dara Torres.  She came to the Orlando Public Library on a book tour, and spoke to a nearly-packed house. Who knew we had so many Dara fans in Orlando!

I was excited to see her again and to hear what she had to say about swimming in her 40’s, her trek towards the 2008 games, training hard, and having a child just a year or so before the Olympic Games.  Overall impression: Her drive towards swimming, racing, and life are even a little more intense than what I remember from our college days at Florida.  Maybe it’s the age!  

Dara talked about getting back in the water when she was pregnant, racing the Masters swimmers (or the Masters swimmers racing her rather) and even vomiting as a result of the pregnancy but still continuing to train. She also talked of an ever-present problem for professional athletes of minor sports:  finding money to fund her trip back to the Olympic Games—by the way it helps to know the mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, who hooked her up! She also talked of the coach finally letting her train with his National Team…..geez!   She has been busy!

One thing I want to share with my swimmers is a key idea she shared that really stuck with me.  She said she hates to lose…..period!  She explained how when she was asking Michael Bloomberg for money, the first question out of his mouth was, “Aren’t you too old to do this?”  That really motivated her!  She really got focused then! 

As far I’m concerned, her performance was pretty studly; probably the most amazing thing I’ve seen in the Olympics games or for anyone at the age of 41! You do realize she missed the Gold medal by only .01 seconds!  24.06 compared to 24.07.  Not only that, she broke her own American Record! (Something no other American woman has done in twenty years!  That’s crazy!) 

So do you think that .01 has motivated her to try yet again?  Oh yea, she said she is still a little ticked off at getting Silver, so I bet she goes again.  All she is waiting on is her knee to recover from knee surgery and she will be back at it!  Hating to lose is a huge motivator!

So, swimmers, do you have that will, effort, desire and extreme WANT to get better and improve to your best ability?  Do you HATE to lose?  I certainly do!   

Don’t ever go with the flow; be a leader and you create your own history.  Dara always has! Be a leader and have a specific goal. Maybe it’s to break Dara’s records!  Dara would be the first one to tell you go for it. She has always been in charge of her own success.  Not following, but leading!  She has done that for as long as I’ve known her.  

Last tip: Surround yourself with other motivated swimmers, and people who believe and support your goals.  If someone is taking your focus away from your dreams, get away from that person!  Oh yeah, and learn to hate to lose…it might be the one time that HATE serves a good purpose!

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