Thursday, April 30, 2009

Author Appearance: Dara Torres

Dara Torres was one of a handful of athletes who had my full attention during the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. A lot of my focus stayed on Michael Phelps, but I found Dara Torres to be the most inspiring Olympic athlete. She’s won 12 Olympic medals, including four golds, in her five Olympic appearances. She’s set three world records. She was 41 years old at the Beijing Olympics and hasn’t ruled out the possibility of competing in the London Summer Olympics in 2012. I really hope she does.

Last night I attended her lecture at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum where she promoted her new book, Age Is Just a Number. Atlanta was the last stop on her book tour before she heads home for two months of intense training. She’s trying to make the USA team and compete at the World Championships in Rome later this summer.

Torres spoke briefly about how the writing of her book came about. She said she wanted to write about all aspects of her life, the good and bad, the ups and downs. She wanted to share what she’s learned from her life lessons.

Most of Torres’ time was spent answering questions from the audience. Of these, a large number of them were from little girls who already are or who want to be swimmers. She offered them advice and encouraged them to take swimming lessons, work hard, and be goal-oriented. One little girl asked Torres how she got rid of nervousness before a race. Her response was that she can’t. She was just as nervous at her most recent Olympics as she was at her first in 1984.

I recently read Michael Phelps’ book, No Limits: The Will to Succeed. One of the things that he hoped would come out of the 2008 Beijing Olympics was increased awareness and interest in swimming in the United States. I think that has happened. Though Phelps’ performance was unparalleled, I think that Torres is also greatly responsible for making swimming a better and more popular sport. I can’t wait to read the book.

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