Thursday, July 3, 2008

Gender *AND* Age Don't Matter Much

Again here I sit watching the Olympic swimming trials. I admit it, I am a sucker for swimming and every time I watch coverage I feel as if I should be back in the pool training. One of the events Agincourt and I just watched was the women's 100 freestyle semifinal. One of the competitors was Dara Torres. For those not familiar with her, please look at the wikipedia information on Dara.

I've been watching Dara since she first competed at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. I was twelve and just at the true start of my career. Here I am now watching Dara again compete for yet another Olympics as a 40 year old mother of a two year old. Are you kidding me? How unbelievably awesome is that?!

I wanted to find out more about what Dara is all about and found this excellent piece at Women's Health Magazine. Here is a glimpse of what she has pushed through in her life so far:
Having busted out of retirement again, Torres is vying for a spot on the 2008 team -- and has been outswimming athletes half her age in the process. As a mom who's battled bulimia, been divorced twice, and recovered from five knee surgeries, she might have superpowers for real.
Or how about this?
I think about the end goal. When I feel like my body is exhausted, I focus on making my fifth Olympic team so I can push through it. They may become harder to achieve, but your dreams can't stop because you've hit a certain age or you've had a child.
Bottom line, I love reading about strong women. I love even more reading about strong women in a sport that I also love.

I know, I know...I'm sappy. It must be all these relaxing vacation days I have been enjoying.


I am extremely excited to be able to provide this update. The women's 100 freestyle final at the US Olympic trials just finished. Not only did Dara Torres make the team, but she won the event right out from under the 25-year old second place finisher. She is the first American swimmer (note how I don't even have to include a gender disclaimer here) to ever compete in 5 (yes 5) Olympic teams. I can't even tell you all in words how excited I am about this. Woohoo!!! Way to go Dara!!!

(image via BBC Sport)


Habladora said...

I love introductions to amazing women. Thanks!

Agincourt said...

It is nice that the media have picked up on this so much. And to hear how everyone admires her strength, and her attitude I know I do!

It is interesting that it sounds like she will be choosing to withdraw from the 100 freestyle that she is also qualified for. I find myself wondering if any of the other younger swimmer/phenoms would have be willing to withdraw from a race they were not as likely to excel in, to 'protect' their opportunities to medal or even win an event they ARE expected to excel at.

It seems that at a younger age, burn out is less of a concern. I'm undecided (shocker!) here as to whether I think "Fortune favors the brave", or "Discretion is the better part of valor" I can see though that perhaps she'd rather have one gold medal in the 50 free, than two... say 4th place finishes in two events. At any rate, I wish her luck!

Mächtige Maus said...

Surprisingly, the qualify for an event then scratch it phenomenon happens quite a bit in swimming. I've been asked to do it before by coaches. Most of the time it has to do with the scoring aspect of a team competition. While swimming is an individual sport for the most part, there is the team aspect as far as relays and overall scoring. True, I am not sure how much this theory applies to the Olympics, but it is very true for club meets and high school/college meets.

I suppose Torres might be more inclined to scratch the 100 freestyle because, as she freely admits, it is taking her body longer to recover between preliminary races and finals. However, it is not strictly an age related phenomenon.