Dara Torres Swimming World cover
Courtesy of: Swimming World Magazine
PHOENIX, Arizona, May 20. WITH Triple Crown favorite California Chrome cleared to wear nasal strips at the Belmont Stakes on June 7, we were reminded of two swimming greats who used nasal strips in their quest for the sport's highest accomplishment.

Nasal strips are viewed as a way to open nasal passages to allow for more oxygen intake during high-level athletic performance and do not contain any chemicals to aid in oxygen flow. Nasal strips first came into prominence in 1993, and horse racing was just one sport to feature them. More than 20 years later, California Chrome is putting the product back into public consciousness.

The organizers of the Belmont Stakes did not view the nasal strips California Chrome wears as performance enhancing, and FINA did not have an issue with them back in in the 1990s and 2000s for swimmers. That was when Tom Dolan and Dara Torres became the major advocates for wearing nasal strips in swimming, though the trend did not completely catch on beyond those two.


Dolan was a strong candidate for using nasal strips. In addition to suffering from exercise-induced asthma, Dolan had a narrow windpipe that made air intake extra difficult. In a press release by the makers of the Breathe Right nasal strips, Dolan said "I noticed a difference immediately." Dolan's first photograph while wearing the nasal strips was on the October 1995 cover of Swimming World Magazine, where he celebrated after a win at the Pan Pacific championships. Dolan would go on to win the 400 IM at the 1996 Olympics and 2000 Olympics, though he would not wear a nasal strip in 2000.



Video of 400 IM at 1996 Olympics


Torres made her first comeback to the sport in time for the 2000 Olympics, and she was featured on the cover of the August 2000 Swimming World Magazine, which served as our Trials preview. Though she didn't speak publicly about using the nasal strip, it's obvious that it helped her greatly. Torres made the Olympic team in three individual events and would win five medals at the Sydney Games.



Dara Torres in 100 fly at 2000 Olympics


Though the nasal strips faded out of swimming after 2000, perhaps the California Chrome craze will spark a resurgence.