The Lessons Of Dara Torres

By Swimming World correspondent G. John Mullen of Swimming Science and Center of Optimal Restoration , Creator of Swimmer's Shoulder System, Swimming Science Research Review

SANTA CLARA, California, August 7. AS Olympic Trials concluded many great careers come to an end. One of most storied and followed career is Dara Torres.

Let's take a quick look at her accomplishments:
● 12-time Olympic Medalist
● Five-time Olympian

Oh yeah, she is also a former American and World Record Holder and best selling author. As you can see, few can compare to her level of achievement.

She overcame the shadow of Dr. Anthony Galea, one of her doctors, who was under investigation for providing human growth hormone to professional athletes. We will leave that be as is.

For this article, we will look at the things Torres has taught us about swimming.

Dara Torres has a beautiful stroke. This common thought is held by the swimming and non-swimming community. Moreover, her immaculate stroke allows her to breathe at will, even in a 50 free! She often breathes every three effortlessly during the one event where non-breathing is beneficial.

In other events, preventing fatigue is mandatory. However, perfect biomechanics must accompany this breathing. This is why Sun Yang can double breathe, because he has a beautiful, unaltered stroke during his breath. Torres is one of the first to breathe frequently in sprint events due to her perfect technique.

Dr. Rushall said it nicely in his 'How Champions Do It' article: “Dara Torres is one of the top two female sprinters in the world at the age of 41 years (in 2008). Her performance is the result of an exceptionally powerful and efficient stroke. Her length of effective arm propulsion, streamlining, and body roll that enables muscles to be used fully to produce force, are worthy of emulation.”

Longevity in any realm is secondary to health. She performs more preventative work than anyone in the sport and it paid off! Preventative care is essential with growing importance as you age. Dara seems to have understood this as she employed a rehabilitative staff and trainer putting health as the first priority are essential. Moreover, she released a resisted stretching routine.

Unfortunately, many in the sport of swimming can't afford such individualized care, but it is important to learn as much as possible through free / cheap resources and make a proper implementation.

A strong psyche is essential to racing those half your age without being discouraged. Torres continually hopped on the blocks ready for every competition. Sure, during her later years she didn't compete in as many meets, but she made sure she was ready for each race, giving her best and competing at the top of the competition.

Torres said:
“Being older, I'm also able to leave everything in the pool after I compete. I bring my best so I can get out with no regrets. There's no room in my life for regrets. I'm able to work my hardest pre-race, do my best during the race, and leave everything behind once I'm done, knowing I did everything I could. That's a good feeling because it wasn't always like that!”

“I don't feel like I have to prove anything to anyone but myself. I'm competing again because I love the sport, and also because my daughter, Tessa, is now 6 and can understand the importance of what is happening and how special it really is.”

This strong psyche allowed her to maximize her racing potential.

Physiologically the sport of swimming has never seen an athlete like Dara Torres. A female sprinter more than 30-years old with a baby is physiologically mind-blowing. Maximal strength in women is suggested to plateau at age 30, but specifically, continuing to improve. This points to the argument that while technique and in-water strength are the main contributors to swimming success, out-of-water-training is useful if it complements but doesn't overtake the intensity of swimming training. suggesting out of water training must complement, not overtake swimming training.

In the past, I've questioned the truthfulness of Torres' training, due to her unprecedented accomplishments. However, upon her nearing retirement, it is essential to realize her contribution to the sport.

G. John Mullen is the owner of the Center of Optimal Restoration and creator of Swimming Science. He received his doctorate in Physical Therapy at the University of Southern California. G. John has been featured in Swimming World Magazine, Swimmer Magazine, and the International Society of Swim Coaches Journal.