Jenny and Dara: A Look at the Rivalry Between America’s Sprint Stars

SW May 2020 -Takeoff To Tokyo - Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres Rivalry

Takeoff To Tokyo Series:
The Rivalry Between Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres

By John Lohn

During the Olympic campaign of 2000, Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres—complete opposites out of the pool, but with few differences as competitors—were engaged in a friendly, but not-so-easy rivalry—one that brought out the best in both swimmers.

Like many rivalry stories, the tale of Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres is about opposites. Thompson was raised by a single mom where financial struggles were common. Torres was raised in Beverly Hills, money never an issue. Thompson is quiet and reserved, preferring to go unnoticed. Torres seeks out the spotlight, never one to pass up the chance to promote her brand. Thompson went into the medical profession after her swimming days. Torres’ post-pool endeavors included broadcasting and modeling.

But in the water, there were few differences. They both moved through the water with world-class speed. They raced the same events. They possessed high-intensity levels and aimed for lofty goals. And in the Olympic campaign of 2000, Thompson and Torres dueled in spectacular fashion—in and out of the water—and provided the sport with an all-time rivalry.

Torres fits the mold of one of those teenage sensations who frequently emerge in the swimming world. As a 14-year-old on April 9, 1982, Torres announced her presence in a major way by winning the national title in the 50 yard freestyle, a crown that required her to defeat Olympian Jill Sterkel. In a little more than 20 seconds, Torres made it known she would be a factor in the sprints. What couldn’t be predicted was the longevity she would eventually display.

Behind an equally efficient and powerful stroke, Torres punched her first Olympic ticket to a home Olympiad in Los Angeles in 1984. At those Games, where she was surrounded by veterans such as Mary T. Meagher, Rowdy Gaines and Tracy Caulkins, Torres garnered the first Olympic medal of her career, as the United States prevailed in the 400 meter freestyle relay.

Over the next four years, the success continued for Torres, who became an NCAA and Southeastern Conference champion for the University of Florida and earned her second Olympic nod for the 1988 Games in Seoul. At those Games, Torres won silver and bronze medals in relay action and finished seventh in the 100 free.

Just after Seoul, Thompson started to emerge as a future hope for the United States, an identity claimed through three medals at the 1989 edition of the Pan Pacific Championships. In Tokyo, Thompson won gold in the 50 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay, and took silver in the 100 freestyle to strengthen the American sprinting contingent.

It wasn’t until 1992, however, that Thompson and Torres competed at the same Olympics, albeit without crossing paths as competitors. While Thompson won the silver medal in the 100 free and was fifth in the 50, she joined Torres on the victorious 400 freestyle relay. But with Thompson recognized as one of the world’s rising stars as a 19-year-old, Torres was ready to retire at the age of 25, and any potential rivalry was impossible to foresee…

To read the full story of the rivalry between Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres,
the May 2020 issue is now available for download in the Vault!

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SW May 2020 Cover - Dave Durdan - Leader of Men

[PHOTO CREDIT: SPEEDO USA]

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Swimming World Magazine May 2020 Issue

FEATURES

016 TOSSED INTO TURMOIL
by Dan D’Addona
The spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has had a far-reaching impact not only on everyday life, but also on the sport of swimming across the globe.

018 TIMING IS EVERYTHING
by David Rieder
Everyone knows how important timing is—races can be won or lost by hundredths of a second. For swimmers competing at the NAIA and NJCAA Championships, the most important timing was measured in days. Both associations were able to complete their championship meets just before other major sports championships were being canceled due to the threat of coronavirus.

022 SILVER LINING COULD TURN TO GOLD
by Michael Randazzo
The Olympic postponement was hardly perceived as a positive, but it could lead to hope and opportunity for any men’s or women’s water polo team that aspires to Olympic competition—including the United States’ national teams.

024 MENTAL PREP: BEFORE THE BEEP WITH ASHLEY TWICHELL
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

026 IMPACTING LIVES THROUGH COACHING
by David Rieder
Dave Durden, University of California and U.S. national team coach, simply refers to himself as a swim coach. But he’s also a leader, an expert at maximizing performance, removing doubt, instilling confidence and navigating young men through demanding situations.

030 TAKEOFF TO TOKYO:  T ‘N’ T—A FRIENDLY RIVALRY FOR A DYNAMITE DUO
by John Lohn
During the Olympic campaign of 2000, Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres—complete opposites out of the pool, but with few differences as competitors—were engaged in a friendly, but not-so-easy rivalry—one that brought out the best in both swimmers.

034 ISHOF: A DUKE, A MERMAID, A WAR AND THE FLU
by Bruce Wigo
COVID-19 isn’t the first pandemic disease to have brought the world of competitive swimming to a halt, and the 2020 Olympic Games are not the first to be postponed or canceled. This is the story of the years between 1914 and 1918, when the world was suddenly and unexpectedly turned upside down by events not so different from what our sport is experiencing today.

COACHING

014 SWIMMING TECHNIQUE CONCEPTS: THE VALUE OF HAND FORCE ANALYSIS: PART II—BACKSTROKE
by Rod Havriluk
Synchronized video and hand force data is an essential tool for optimizing technique. A coach can use the force data to pinpoint limitations, refer to the corresponding video images to explain changes and monitor a swimmer’s progress in improving technique.

038 MOTIVATING SWIMMERS TO NEW HEIGHTS
by Michael J. Stott
Memorable are the sporting events where an athlete or team is “on fire.” Swimming World checks in with two high school and two age group coaches for insight into how that happens. Spoiler alert: the common denominator is “buy-in” from athletes who connect with a coach.

042 SPECIAL SETS:  CHANGE-OF-PACE FUN
by Michael J. Stott
USA Swimming master coach consultant Bob Steele provides some favorite change-of-pace exercises that are designed to insert spice and fun into in-season training.

046 Q&A WITH COACH DOUG FONDER
by Michael J. Stott

047 HOW THEY TRAIN OLIVIA BRAY
by Michael J. Stott

TRAINING

012 DRYSIDE TRAINING: STROKE STRENGTH SERIES—FREESTYLE
by J.R. Rosania

JUNIOR SWIMMER

049 UP & COMERS: FINN CONLEY
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COLUMNS

010 A VOICE FOR THE SPORT

011 BEYOND THE YARDS

036 DID YOU KNOW? 1920 U.S. WOMEN’S OLYMPIC TEAM

044 THE OFFICIAL WORD

050 GUTTERTALK

051 PARTING SHOT

NOTE: READ LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER ABOUT THIS DIGITAL ISSUE DURING THE CONVID-19 PANDEMIC

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