In case you missed the whole swimming competition of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, or need a reminder, let me recap how it went down: Michael Phelps ate a bunch of pizza and won a bunch of medals, and the highly accomplished and previously twice-retired Dara Torres inspired a nation of women that life after 40 isn’t just okay, it’s Olympic. At the Beijing Olympics (her fifth), as a 41-year-old mother with an insatiable drive to compete—and win, Dara took home three silver medals.
Ms. Torres recently joined forces with the Got Milk? campaign (see her rockin’ abs in the ad at left) and has written a book, Age is Just a Number: Achieve Your Dreams At Any Stage In Your Life, about her life. After reading her book, and reading about her countless hours in the pool and the gym and her dedication to reaching her dreams and inspiring others to do the same, I had what Oprah would call an “ah-ha moment.” I thought to myself, “We should honor one inspirational woman each year with the title of Fit Bottomed Girl of the Year.” And giving the very first one to Dara was an easy choice for Erin and me. Thankfully, Dara accepted (although very humbly—see below) and did an interview with us.
Although we’d love to give her the real crown adorned with jewels that her bad-ass self deserves, the FBG budget is a little lackluster (feel free to place an ad!), so we’re hoping she’ll feel equally honored by this specially designed high-performance tee (which features a crown!) that’s in the mail and on the way to her. Dara, you are truly the fittest of Fit Bottomed Girls. We bow to your greatness! Now read on to be inspired!
DT: First of all, it’s one of the coolest campaigns out there, and, second, I drink milk for recovery after I train, so it was a natural fit. I am at the age where my body needs calcium for my bones, and I have a 3-year-old who drinks milk every day, too.
FBG: When you’re competing or in a tough part of a workout, how did you push through what you think you can do? How do you differentiate between real pain and just mental fatigue?
DT: I just listen to my body. There are times it’s tough to push through pain, but I remember what my end goal is, and your body will let you know how much to do and not to do. You should be able to feel and know your pain threshold.
FBG: Many of our readers are inspired by you and your accomplishments. Who inspires you? Who are you in awe of?
DT: My parents have always been an inspiration to me, and a lot of my inspiration also comes from within. You can’t just try to work to have inspiration; either you have it or you don’t.
FBG: You didn’t participate in the 1996 and 2004 Olympics. At what point after that did you think, “I can do this…I can whoop these 20-year-old girls’ butts” and get back into training?
DT: People make such a big deal about my age, but I don’t compare myself to what they can do. I just do what I can.
FBG: How do your off-season workouts compare to your in-season workouts?
DT: I don’t have an off season.
FBG: Given the fact that you spend so much time training for swimming, what other key exercises do you practice to balance the swimming?
DT: I do a lot of stretching after I train for recovery. I also do weight-room exercises, which are not about what’s heavier; it’s more about being efficient. I also use a Swiss balance ball, exercise bands and do a lot of core exercises.
FBG: What about your diet? What is it like in the off season and in season? (Feel free to elaborate on your thoughts on Michael Phelps’ well-publicized eat-a-thons.)
DT: I think Michael’s diet was too well publicized; he doesn’t really eat 12,000 calories a day. I don’t have an off-season diet. I eat what I want to eat. I do choose organic foods, take amino acids to build muscle, drink milk for recovery, and I don’t deprive myself of foods.
FBG: When you’re not swimming, what do you do for fun (both in terms of exercise and just plain non-gym fun)?
DT: I love hanging out with my daughter and chasing her in the park.
FBG: Now that you’ve conquered swimming, what’s your next goal? Are you training for anything? Will we see you in the next Olympics?
DT: I am training for the World Championships in Rome in the beginning of June. Once those are over I will decide what I want to do next.
FBG: If you could give one piece of advice when it comes to getting and staying fit, what would it be?
DT: Stay with it! It’s the initial starting to exercise that is important, and when people start and see results, they stick with it. You have to be motivated enough to start.
FBG: We’re doing this new thing for our one-year birthday, and we’d like to offer you the title of “2009 Fit Bottomed Girl of the Year.” Would you accept? We have a special performance tee to give you…
DT: Have you seen my bottom? Ha, but yes, I will accept.
The woman has no off-season workout or diet! She’s sane, dedicated and freakin’ awesome. We can’t wait to see how our first FBG of the Year recipient does in Rome! Thank you, Dara! —Jenn
And, for those of you who want more Dara (who wouldn’t?!), we’re giving away a free copy of her book! If you live in the U.S., comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org by May 29 with why you’d like to win (put Dara in the subject line if you’re emailing, pretty please!). We’ll announce the winner on June 1 with the rest of the One-Year Celebration winners!
Want a shirt like Dara’s? Buy yours today in the FBG Wear store!