Torres, a five-time Olympian, fell shy of going to the London Games this month as a member of Team USA by nine-hundredths of a second, as she finished fourth in the 50-meter freestyle final at the U.S. Olympic team trials in swimming Monday night.
And then she retired.
"This is really over," the Associated Press reported the 45-year-old single mom as saying after the race. "That’s it, I’m going to enjoy some time with my daughter, have a nice summer and cheer on the U.S. team from afar."
Torres, who won her first Olympic medal at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, has won 12 medals at the Summer Games. Besides ’84, she competed and medaled in 1988, 1992, 2000 and 2009 — having skipped the 1996 and 2004 Games by choice.
“It’s disappointing but . . . there’s nothing else I could have done,” Torres told The Washington Post. “I think I learned more about mental toughness than I had at any other time in my life. . . . I was prepared either way. I’m OK.”
Torres set a goal to compete in London with her coach, Michael Lohberg , two years ago. That Lohberg, who died last year of a rare blood disorder, wasn’t there added to the emotion she felt.
"When I was putting my suit on with my trainer, Anne Tierney, we started crying because I started thinking about Michael,” Torres said. “In July of 2010, he had said to me, ’Let’s go for this.’ I really wanted to finish the story that I started with him. I didn’t make it but I know he would have been proud."
Torres clocked 24.82 seconds in placing fourth, behind Jessica Hardy (24.50), Kara Lynn Joyce (24.73) and Christine Magnuson (24.78). The top two finishers earned spots on the team.
“I love racing Dara,” Hardy said, according to the Post. “I wish her the best. I wish she could have made it this year. . . . Swimming with her the last couple of years has been a really awesome treat.”
Torres won a silver at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. But being a mom is a victory, too.
The “really, really middle-aged woman,” as Torres called herself, will be home to help Tessa get ready for 1st grade.
"Mentally it’s been so tough the past couple years with having more bad workouts than good workouts and going to meets and not being able to go faster at night than I did in the morning," she said. "I’m used to winning, but that wasn’t the goal here. The goal was to try to make it. I didn’t quite do it, but I’m really happy with how I did."
That’s why she was all smiles when it was over.
“Getting fourth at the Olympic trials against girls less than half my age, that’s OK,” Torres said. “That’s pretty good for a 45-year-old.”
— JOE GREENE, NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM