Olympics, Swimming: Britta Steffen Edges Dara Torres by .01 to Win 50 Free in Olympic Standard

By John Lohn

BEIJING, China, August 17. A fingertip. That's all that separated Dara Torres from the gold medal in the 50 freestyle, won by Germany's Britta Steffen to complete the sprint double. Still, Torres has made history this week, her silver-medal performance as a 41-year-old an accomplishment that is difficult to fathom.

Already the gold medalist in the 100 freestyle, Steffen charged into the wall and touched in the slimmest margin ahead of Torres. Steffen posted the second-fastest time ever in the event, a 24.06 clocking just edging the 24.07 of Torres. Winning her 11th career Olympic medal, Torres lowered her American record by .18 to continue her fairytale comeback to the sport.

A little more than two years ago, Torres was enjoying life away from the pool. Pregnant with her daughter, Tessa, she decided to hop in the pool as a way to keep in shape. Now, she's a five-time Olympian whose latest comeback added another medal to her impressive haul. As important, she has sent a message that age is merely a number and has inspired the forty-something realm that anything is possible.

Well behind off the start, Australian teenager Cate Campbell used much of the lap catching up to the field. She obviously did a good job of it as Campbell picked up the bronze medal in a time of 24.17, just ahead of the 24.25 posted by her countrywoman, Libby Trickett. The gold medalist in the 100 fly and silver medalist in the 100 free, Trickett holds the world record in the 50 free at 23.97.

The Netherlands' Marleen Veldhuis, the former world-record holder in the splash-and-dash, finished in fifth place in 24.26. American Kara Lynn Joyce touched in sixth (24.63) and the field was completed by the Netherlands' Hinkelien Schreuder (24.65) and Belarus' Aleksandra Gerasimenya (24.77).