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Monday, March 9, 2009

Who is Angelena Dara Grace Torres?

Who is Angelena Dara Grace Torres? The world knows her as Dara Torres. Torres is an American swimmer who is the first swimmer from the United States to compete in five Olympics: 1984, 1988, 1992, 2000, and 2008. She competed in the 2008 Olympic Games in the 50 meter freestyle, 4×100 medley relay, and 4×100 freestyle relay and won[2] the silver medal in all three of these events.

Torres has won twelve Olympic medals (four gold, four silver, four bronze), five of which she won in the Sydney Olympics in 2000, a feat made all the more impressive by the fact that, at age 33, she was the oldest member of the US Olympic Swim Team. She has also won at least one medal in each of the five Olympics in which she has competed, making her one of only a handful of Olympians to earn medals in five different Games.[3]
On August 1, 2007, at the age of 40 (just 15 months after giving birth to her first child), she won gold in the 100 meter freestyle at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, her 14th win at these events. She then followed that up on August 4 by twice breaking her own American record in the 50 m freestyle, 26 years after she first set the American record at just 15 years old.

Torres grew up in Los Angeles and attended the Westlake School for Girls (now Harvard-Westlake School), and swam under coach Darlene Bible, where she set California Interscholastic Federation records that remain to this day.[4] As a teenager in the 1980s, she swam for the Mission Viejo Nadadores, in Mission Viejo, California, under Mark Shubert, the 2008 Olympic swimming coach.
Torres was one of the 2000 Olympics swimmers featured in the book Gold in the Water, by P. H. Mullen. It describes Torres's comeback for the 2000 Olympics under coaches Richard Quick and Dick Jochums. She broke the World Record in the Women's 50 Meter Freestyle race three times during the early 1980s.
She subsequently attended the University of Florida, where she received 28 All-American honors.
Torres uses resistance stretching with trainers Anne Tierney and Steve Sierra from Innovative Body Solutions and refers to this training as her "secret weapon" for continued success.[5]

Torres has worked in television as a reporter and announcer for American networks such as NBC, ESPN, TNT, OLN and Fox News Channel. She now hosts the golf show The Clubhouse, on the Resort Sports Network. She is also an occasional model, having appeared in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 1994. In 2005, she was elected to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. [6]


At age 41, Dara Torres returned to the pool to obtain a spot in her fifth Olympic games, unprecedented for an American female swimmer, especially given the fact that she sat out the 1996 and 2004 Olympic games. In fact, she is the first woman in history to swim in the Olympics past the age of 40.Her Olympic career spans 24 years. On July 5, she qualified for the finals in the 50 m freestyle that were held on July 6. In that semi-final, she broke the American record with a time of 24.38 seconds. On July 6 in the finals she broke that record for the 9th time, setting it at 24.25 seconds and winning the top American women's spot in the 50 m freestyle.[7] Torres' time of 24.25 is .28 seconds off the current world's best in the 50 m, set by Australian Libby Trickett at the Australian Olympic Trials in March.
On July 7, 2008, Torres confirmed that she would be pulling out of 100 m freestyle swim for her time at the Beijing Olympics to focus her efforts on the 50 m freestyle. Lacey Nymeyer took over the position from Torres.[8]
On July 30, 2008, at the U.S. swim team's final training in Singapore, Torres, together with Amanda Beard
and Natalie Coughlin were elected captains of the U.S. Olympic women’s swimming team.[9]
In order to pre-empt any speculation that she might be taking performance-enhancing drugs, Torres volunteered for an enhanced drug-testing program. She has not been accused of steroids-use.[10]
Torres won silver on August 10, 2008, at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing as the anchor position of the US 4×100 meters women's freestyle relay (the fifth time in five tries she has earned an Olympic medal in that event).
On August 17, 2008 at the age of 41 years and 125 days, she won silver in the women's 50 meter freestyle race finishing in American record time of 24.07, 0.01 seconds behind the winner, Britta Steffen.
About 35 minutes later, she won another silver medal as part of the American 4×100 m medley relay team. Her 12 Olympic medals tie the all-time medal record for a female Olympic swimmer with fellow American swimmer, Jenny Thompson. Eight of Thompson's medals were gold, compared with Torres' 4. However, Dara has twice as many individual medals (4) as Thompson (2). Torres' split on the 4×100 medley relay (52.27) is the fastest 100 freestyle split in relay history. The American record in that as a single event is 53.39 seconds as of August 2008.






2008 Summer Olympics Events
Medal count: 3 (0 gold, 3 silver, 0 bronze)
Date
Event
Final Time
Place
August 9
4×100 m Freestyle Relay
3:34.33
2nd
August 16
50 m Freestyle
24.07
2nd
August 16
4×100 m Medley Relay
3:53.30
2nd

Torres was born April 15, 1967 in Jupiter, Florida, the daughter of Edward Torres and Marylu Kauder.[11] She grew up in Los Angeles, California the fifth of six children and the older of two girls. At age 7, Torres started following her brothers to swim practice at the local Y.M.C.A. and later joined the Culver City swim team. During her junior year in high school, Torres moved to Mission Viejo, Calif., to train for the 1984 Olympics. Torres started attending the University of Florida in 1985. At Florida, Torres earned 28 N.C.A.A. all-American swimming awards, the maximum number possible during a college career.[12]
In the mid-1990s, she married and subsequently divorced sports producer Jeff Gowen. Her second husband was Israeli-born surgeon Itzhak Shasha, whom she later divorced.[13] Prior to marrying Shasha, Torres officially converted to Judaism[11] (her late father was Jewish).
Torres and her partner, David Hoffman, the father of her 2-year-old and also the fertility doctor who treated Shasha and Torres, have a daughter named Tessa Grace, born in April, 2006. [14].

Dara Torress keeps adding to her awards as she also won an ESPY for her performance in the 2008 Olympics.

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