At the age of 43, six-time Olympian Dara Torres is proud to break the “middle age stigma.” Set to compete in London as the oldest swimmer ever to earn a place on the U.S. Olympic team, Dara opened up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about balancing training with motherhood, her 4-year-old daughter Tessa and the challenges of competing with athletes half her age.
CBS: At the age of 41, you were the oldest swimmer ever to earn a place on the U.S. Olympic team. What does that mean to you?
DT: “I’ve always felt that age really is just a number (so much that it’s the title of my first book!). There is a stigma that’s attached to the term ‘middle age’ that is often attributed to being too old. I don’t believe in that. It was an honor to be the oldest swimmer to earn a place on the U.S. Olympic team, the main reason being that I broke a barrier and motivated so many to not get stuck in the ‘middle age’ stigma.”
CBS: Are you planning to return to the London Games in 2012? If so, please tell us about your training schedule.
DT: “I am planning to return to the London Games in 2012 for what will be my sixth Olympics. Being a mother and at my age, my training schedule is a little different than it has been in the past. I make sure to train and swim in the mornings while my daughter is at school to make sure I can spend time with her in the afternoon. I also value stretching and recovery time as I have to listen to my body and know my limits. Competing against kids half my age in the pool is great competition and keeps me feeling young! I’ve always been competitive and have a drive to leave no stone unturned.”
CBS: You recently became a mom. What’s been harder – motherhood or training for the Olympics?
DT: “I’m not sure that there’s a way to compare the two! They are both challenges that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Training for the Olympics before my daughter, I was focused on one thing – swimming. Being a mother has definitely taught me how to balance as Tessa is the number one priority in my life – my training now revolves around her.”
CBS: Tell us about your 4-year-old daughter Tessa Grace. What is she into?
DT: “She’s into just about everything right now! She loves to swim, but she’s also a girly-girl and loves to play dress up. She’s also been into gymnastics recently – she gets to be girly and sporty – she’s really enjoying it.”
CBS: Does Tessa love the water like mama? Do you hope she’ll be involved in competitive swimming?
DT: “Tessa does love the water. After her swimming lessons she always asks to stay for the next session – she can’t seem to get enough! I hope that she finds something that makes her happy, whether its swimming or not.
CBS: What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned through your Olympic training and experiences?
DT: “I’ve learned countless lessons throughout my training and experiences, the most important being hard work, sacrifice, and dedication.”
CBS: How do you use your Olympic experiences while teaching Tessa about life/discipline/values?
DT: “Tessa is still young so it’s an ongoing process, you have to instill it more than once. Over time I’ll be able instill those values using my experiences not only as an Olympic Athlete but my experience of being part of an Olympic team.”
CBS: If you are working on any projects or with any charities, please feel free to discuss.
DT: “I have started working with a new company called NXT Nutritional and their product SUSTA. It is an all natural sweetener – it’s terrific. Taste is great, I know I am putting something healthy in Tessa and my bodies and it has nutrients and pro biotics in it. I use SUSTA in my ice tea and cook with SUSTA Bowl.
I have always given back and support numerous charities associated with cancer, health issues, teen obesity and others. Love the PTA and many other groups I work with currently.”