Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Dara Torres' bid to be oldest woman on U.S. Olympic swim team comes up short

By Chelsea J. Carter, CNN
July 3, 2012 -- Updated 1401 GMT (2201 HKT)
After her fourth-place finish in the women's 50-meter freestyle final, Dara Torres, center, turns to winner Jessica Hardy on the last day of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team Trials in Omaha, Nebraska, on Monday. Kara Lynn Joyce, top, reacts to finishing second, which secures her slot to compete in London. After her fourth-place finish in the women's 50-meter freestyle final, Dara Torres, center, turns to winner Jessica Hardy on the last day of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team Trials in Omaha, Nebraska, on Monday. Kara Lynn Joyce, top, reacts to finishing second, which secures her slot to compete in London.
HIDE CAPTION
U.S. Gymnastics and Swimming Olympic trials
U.S. Gymnastics and Swimming Olympic trials
U.S. Gymnastics and Swimming Olympic trials
U.S. Gymnastics and Swimming Olympic trials
U.S. Gymnastics and Swimming Olympic trials
U.S. Gymnastics and Swimming Olympic trials
U.S. Gymnastics and Swimming Olympic trials
U.S. Gymnastics and Swimming Olympic trials
U.S. Gymnastics and Swimming Olympic trials
U.S. Gymnastics and Swimming Olympic trials
U.S. Gymnastics and Swimming Olympic trials
U.S. Gymnastics and Swimming Olympic trials
U.S. Gymnastics and Swimming Olympic trials
U.S. Gymnastics and Swimming Olympic trials
U.S. Gymnastics and Swimming Olympic trials
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dara Torres finished fourth in the 50-meter freestyle at the U.S. trials
  • The 12-time Olympic medalist finished with a time of 24.82 seconds
  • "This is it," Torres said, announcing the end of her career
  • Torres swam in the 1984, 1988, 1992, 2000 and 2008 Olympics

(CNN) -- Dara Torres' quest at the age of 45 to make her sixth U.S. Olympic team came down to a single, furious lap.

She came up short Monday, finishing fourth in the finals of the 50-meter women's freestyle at the Olympic trials in Omaha, Nebraska, behind a trio of women nearly 20 years her junior.

Torres took to the starting block both a serious contender and sentimental favorite. She's a 12-time medalist who at the 2008 Games earned the title of oldest American swimmer to win an Olympic medal.

By the time she touched the wall, 24.82 seconds later, Torres capped a storied Olympic career that began in 1984 at the Los Angeles Games with a gold medal in the 4x100-meter relay, her only event.

"This is it," she told reporters after she got out of the pool, indicating her long, career was finally over.

The top two finishers Monday secured spots on the U.S. team.

Olympic rings on London's Tower Bridge

Jessica Hardy, 25, won the race in 24.50 seconds, while 26-year-old Kara Lynn Joyce finished second with a time of 24.73. Christine Magnuson, 26, finished third with 24.78.

Olympic gold medal or best sex ever?
Dara Torres talks about recovery
Dara Torres: 45 with rock hard abs

In the pool, Torres appeared to pass the torch, as she hugged Hardy and Joyce, congratulating them on their one-two finish.

Later, asked what she would most remember about a career with so many milestones, Torres said: "Probably the fact that I've hung in there this long."

Runner drops out of Olympic runoff

Torres took her time getting out of the pool, looking up at the stands where for nearly three decades she has been cheered on her in Olympic bids.

She then picked up her 6-year-old daughter, Tessa, who buried her head in her mother's shoulder.

"I think she's taking it harder than I am. I told her I would take her to London," Torres said.

Last month, Torres told CNN's Piers Morgan that the road to the London Games for her would be a tough one.

Her age was catching up with her, in some ways.

Torres, whose sculpted body has inspired awe in middle-aged women, was battling aches and pains that come with age. She talked about hormone changes that every aging woman faces.

She had undergone a state-of-the-art knee surgery after it deteriorated following the 2008 Games and spent two years recovering.

Much was made about her knee and whether it would hinder the fast start needed off the blocks to be a contender in the race. Her finish in the semifinals of the 50-meter freestyle earned her a third place berth in the final.

More than once, Torres walked away from swimming. She retired briefly after the 1988 Seoul Games but returned for the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Heathrow on track for Olympics

She then took a seven-year break before returning for the 2000 Sydney Games, where she would win two gold relay medals and first individual Olympic medals: three bronzes medals in the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle and the 100-meter butterfly.

Torres took another break from swimming, missing the 2004 Olympics to focus on starting a family. She gave birth to her daughter in 2005.

She made her last comeback at the Beijing Games in 2008, where she earned a silver medal in the 50-meter freestyle and the title of the oldest American woman to swim for the U.S. team.

Torres' coach, Michael Lohberg, died last year from complication of aplastic anemia, a rare blood disease.

After his death, she decided to go it alone without a coach, though she did hire a trainer.

"I really wanted to finish the story that I started with him," she told reporters during a news conference following the race, according to transcripts.

But, she said, she knows he would have been proud of her performance.

Watch Piers Morgan Live weeknights 9 p.m. ET. For the latest from Piers Morgan click here.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 13, 2012 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
The moment that Team GB's Mo Farah won the 10,000 meters was a wonderful collision of electricity.
August 13, 2012 -- Updated 1534 GMT (2334 HKT)
His blistering pace and larger-than-life antics made him the king of the track in London, and bolstered his claims to be a "living legend."
August 14, 2012 -- Updated 0944 GMT (1744 HKT)
Disappointment for Nigeria's Muizat Ajoke Odumosu, who came last in the 400m hurdles final, London 2012 Olympics.
The Olympics are generally won and lost long before the opening ceremony cauldron is touched by fire.
August 12, 2012 -- Updated 0738 GMT (1538 HKT)
Fans of the home side, Team GB, wave Union Jack flags during the Olympic Games
CNN's Richard Quest believes the London Games will be regarded as having brought the Olympics concept home.
August 11, 2012 -- Updated 1633 GMT (0033 HKT)
Strategist Alastair Campbell says he never imagined London 2012 would be quite the triumph it turned out to be.
August 14, 2012 -- Updated 2057 GMT (0457 HKT)
Award-winning director Danny Boyle celebrates the best of British music in London 2012's Olympic Closing Ceremony.
January 31, 2013 -- Updated 1452 GMT (2252 HKT)
From Usain Bolt's record-setting achievements to an unexpected Ugandan gold, London 2012 has provided a wide array of highlights.
August 13, 2012 -- Updated 0305 GMT (1105 HKT)
CNN's Amanda Davies recaps the London 2012 Olympics from the opening ceremony on July 27 to the finale on day 16.
August 12, 2012 -- Updated 1702 GMT (0102 HKT)
Mo Farah and Usain Bolt celebrate their success at the London 2012 Olympic Games by copying each other's
It's been just over two weeks since the Queen parachuted into London's Olympic Stadium, her apricot dress flapping in the breeze.
August 15, 2012 -- Updated 1214 GMT (2014 HKT)
When the world's top marathon runners bid to win Olympic gold, they would do well to draw inspiration from one of the greatest athletes in the history of track and field.
August 11, 2012 -- Updated 1633 GMT (0033 HKT)
Team GB supporters with their faces painted in Union Jack designs at the Olympic Stadium in London.
Alastair Campbell always thought London 2012 would be a success, but never imagined it would be quite the triumph it has turned out to be.
August 10, 2012 -- Updated 1021 GMT (1821 HKT)
Adrien Niyonshuti is unlikely to win an Olympic medal, and he will do well to even finish his event, but his story is surely one of the most inspirational.
August 10, 2012 -- Updated 1605 GMT (0005 HKT)
The colors of the Olympic Rings at the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, August 2012.
Olympic fever has cheered up London and made it a more welcoming place, but will optimism be one of the legacies of the Games?
August 10, 2012 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Wojdan Shaherkani's Olympic debut was short, but sweet -- the Saudi judoka said competing at the Games was
London 2012 is the first Olympics to feature women in every national team, with Jacques Rogge hailing a "major boost for gender equality."
August 10, 2012 -- Updated 0040 GMT (0840 HKT)
An impoverished South Korean gymnast has not only struck Olympic gold, but also reaped a $444,000 donation in a veritable rags to riches tale.
August 9, 2012 -- Updated 0046 GMT (0846 HKT)
Britain's hero Jessica Ennis is set to cash in after winning heptathlon gold, but the poster girl of the 2012 Olympics says fame is not her motivation.
August 8, 2012 -- Updated 0746 GMT (1546 HKT)
China is rallying around fallen hurdler Liu Xiang after he failed to make it past the first-round heat for a second consecutive Olympics.
August 3, 2012 -- Updated 1930 GMT (0330 HKT)
The first woman to win Olympic gold almost died in a plane crash, but remarkably returned to run again for the U.S. in 1936.
August 7, 2012 -- Updated 1504 GMT (2304 HKT)
Don Paige could not bear to watch the race he knew he could win. The 1980 Moscow Olympics were the death of a dream for many athletes.
August 4, 2012 -- Updated 1421 GMT (2221 HKT)
Ricardo Blas Jr
While Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt grab the headlines, little-known athletes from around the world keep alive the original spirit of the Olympics.
Athletes spend years eating the right foods ... and then must resist the free fast food in the Olympic village. How do they do it?
ADVERTISEMENT