Omaha, NE, United States (4E Sports) – It’s not only love where age doesn’t matter. For five-time Olympic swimmer Dara Torres, the age-old saying also applies in her passion to compete.
At age 45, Torres is trying to make it one more time in the quadrennial meet as she participates in the 50-meter qualifying against women half her age for spots in the US swimming team for the London Olympics.
Torres is scheduled to swim three races – two qualifying heats and the final – Sunday at the Olympic Trials in Omaha and if all goes in her way, she will become the first American swimmer to make six Olympic teams in a span of 24 years.
“At my age I have to conserve my energy,” she jokingly told AOL/Fanhouse.
During that span, Torres has won 12 Olympic medals for the US — four gold, four silver and four bronze medals – and five of which she won during the 2000 Summer Games. She has won at least one medal in each of the five Olympics in which she has competed.
In 2008, Torres became the oldest swimmer ever to earn a place on the US Olympic team when she saw action in Beijing where she won silver medals in the 50-meter freestyle, 4×100-meter medley relay and 4×100-meter freestyle relay.
But after her record-setting performance in Beijing, Torres underwent shoulder surgery to alleviate osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease in which the ends of bone were shaved and calcification removed. That was followed by radical knee surgery to reconstruct another joint and grow new cartilage.
It took Torres 18 months to recover but she proudly boasts that she is in the best shape of her life even compared to her 20′s.
“I’m middle age and I have middle age pains and aches like everyone. My hormones are dropping and it takes me longer to recover,” Torres said. “I envy the younger kids, the way they can bounce back from a hard training and eat anything and then train hard again. There are days when I need a nap, I’m so tired. But this is something I want to do it until my body tells me it absolutely can’t take anymore.”
To keep herself in Olympic-quality condition, Torres reportedly shells out $100,000 of her own money to form her own support staff, including trainers, massage therapists, a naturopathic doctor and a nutritionist who advises her on supplements and a cook.
She also spends two-hours in the pool, five days a weeks in a training facility in Coral Springs, Florida and regularly lifts heavy weights to keep herself in top form.
“People always want to know how I got this stomach. I train extremely hard, that’s how, and I’m always aware of involving my core,” Torres said. “I’ve become much smarter when it comes to training. I’m much more focused and know how to conserve my energy.”