Dara Torres Shows the Young How It's Done

Dara Torres made a splash at the Olympic swimming trials Thursday in Omaha, Neb., when she won the 100-meter freestyle event, qualifying for her fifth Olympic Games.

The 41-year-old finished first in 53.78 seconds, while U.S. record holder Natalie Coughlin was second at 53.83 seconds.

This will be Torres' second comeback since coming out of a seven-year retirement in 2007. Before her return to competitive swimming Torres was busy keeping up with her 2-year-old daughter, Tessa.

Torres said today she hadn't expected to do so well in the 100 meters. She said she'd thought she would come in between third and sixth.

"I was shocked when I touched the wall. I couldn't see the scoreboard," Torres said. "With my age — and I'm looking and I was like, 'What does that say' — then I heard the announcer. I didn't really know that I won at first. I'm shocked."

The song "American Woman" blared through the speakers as Torres climbed out of the pool. Trying to control her tears, Torres found her thoughts turning to her family, particularly her father.

"I was feeling like he was with me on that race and really feeling him at the end," Torres said. "I was also thinking about my daughter and my family that was in the stands. I was trying to hold a brave face while I was out there because I didn't want anyone to see me crying. I just had to take a moment and gather my emotions."

With her victory, Torres has become the oldest American swimmer to qualify for the Olympic Games. She began her Olympic career at age 17, when she qualified for the 1984 Olympics and won a relay gold at the games. She then went on to qualify again in 1988 and 1992.

Torres has won nine Olympic medals in her career, including the gold in 1984, a bronze and silver in 1988, a gold medal in 1992, and two gold medals and three bronze medals in 2000.

She was the first American swimmer to attend four Olympics and as of yesterday, could become the first to attend five.

Torres will be competing again on Sunday in the 50-meter freestyle event. If she qualifies there, she may withdraw from the 100m Olympic race.

"The 50 is more my event," she said.

For now though, Torres is ecstatic about qualifying and is concentrating on her event on Sunday.

"I'm just going to be smart [about] how I swim and not go for the American record in the morning and really try to go for it Sunday night," Torres said.

In August 2007, ABC profiled Torres in our "Person of the Week" segment.

At that time she was just beginning her comeback at the U.S. Nationals, only 15 months after having her daughter Tessa. Torres won the 50m freestyle and broke the American record she had set at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

"From the moment I decided I wanted to make this comeback, I've always thought positive about it," Torres told ABC in 2007. "I think I have a real good shot at making the Olympic team."

For Torres, that good shot has become a reality.

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