Dara Torres, Olympian at 41. Why You Should Pay Attention.

PJ EdelmanCorrespondent IJuly 31, 2008

If you looked at this picture from the abs to the waist, there is small chance that you could guess the sex of the swimmer.  But Dara Torres is a woman, and she is for real.

In case you have never heard of Torres, let me break her stats down for you.  She has nine Olympic medals, four of them gold.  She recently broke the 50m freestyle American record, touching up at 25.24 seconds.  She has participated in the Olympics in L.A. Seoul, Barcelona, and Sydney. 

And now, at the age of 41, she is taking on her fifth Summer Olympics this August in Beijing.  Most of the competitors Torres will be facing will either be about half, or less than half, her age.  Unfortunately for the rest of the world, Torres means business.  

A terrific New York Times Magazine article presents Torres' life―both past and present―to a wide audience.  It describes Torres' athletic accomplishments, her current life with her young daughter, and her amazing ambition to succeed in all facets of her life. It is this desire, this unequalled yearning that is the most intriguing factor in Torres' personality. 

As a participant in the 50m freestyle, Torres will be the first American swimmer ever to compete in five Olympics.  In order to become the paragon of fitness, Torres sacrifices time, money, and comfort. 

The price of all of her trainers (a cornucopia of stretchers, weight trainers, masseuses, and doctors) totals near $100,000.  She trains constantly, but at 41, is wise enough to realize that her body requires more warming-up and cooling-down. 

A special feature of the Torres' workout is resistance training.  She focuses on her core, legs, and any muscles that can help her gain speed in the water.  Big muscles are undesirable because they inhibit range of motion.  Instead, she works for lean muscles that require endurance.

Rooting for Torres this summer is a no-brainer.  Not only does she represent the United States, but persistence, determination, and greatness as well.  But perhaps most importantly, she represents age.  Almost all people, especially Americans, see their activity levels drop once the teenage years pass.  Getting out of shape is not only accepted, it's expected. 

But Torres' techniques prove that proper training can propel the human body into a strong, healthy machine.  Hopefully, as more information is discovered, ideas about how to stay in excellent shape into our 50s, 60s, and even 70s―can become widespread, and put into practice.

Now with the Opening Ceremony only days away, Torres must deal with her coach's recent diagnosis of aplastic anemia, another obstacle to the 41-year-old sprinter.  Our prayers are with Torres and Coach Michael Lohberg.  Maybe a fifth gold medal at Torres' fifth Olympics in the 50 freestyle will help uplift her coach's spirits.  And a nation's.      

Scroll down about a quarter of the page to see Torres workout regimen