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Dara Debuts on the XFL -- February 3, 2001 Dara Torres just before the start.

By Phillip Whitten

February 3. WHEN the XFL--the "eXtreme Football League"--debuts tonight, there will be at least one world-class athlete down on the field: Dara Torres,who won five medals, including two gold, at the Sydney Games.

The WWF-inspired XFL, which promises to be a face-slapping, groin-kicking, cheerleader-pinching contrast with the NFL, may be populated, as some have charged, by third-rate NFL-rejects. But at least the league had the good sense to hire Torres, 33, as a roving reporter. "I'm really looking forward to being on the field and capturing the flavor of the game," Torres told swiminfo.

Torres' TV career has soared post-Sydney. Aside from her NBC gig with the XFL, Torres has been hired by ABC's "Good Morning America." During the inauguration of President George W. Bush, she did a piece with some of the incoming Administration's biggies, including Sec. of State Colin Powell. Last Tuesday she did a segment that featured her Olympic stretching routine.