By John Lohn
OMAHA, Nebraska, July 4. THERE might not be a better story in sports tonight than that of Dara Torres, the 41-year-old sensation defying age and, now, a five-time Olympian. Oh yeah, it’s a fairytale for sure. There’s no other way to say it.
Completing her second comeback after an eight-year layoff, Torres battled strong down the stretch and held off Natalie Coughlin and Lacey Nymeyer to win the 100 freestyle in 53.78. Torres was first at the turn and never looked back in adding to her previous Olympic qualifications of 1984, 1988, 1992 and 2000.
When Torres started this comeback, few expected her to qualify for a fifth Games. But with each swim, she looked more and more like a possibility for Beijing, particularly in the 50 free. As for the 100 free, she was simply hoping for a relay berth. Well, she has a whole lot more and Torres could be ready to add to her nine Olympic medals.
“I have to give Natalie credit,” Torres said. “I think if it was her first event, things would be different. I’m ecstatic. It’s bittersweet. I’m going to be away from my daughter for a month.”
The American-record holder, Coughlin dug deep heading into the wall and, for a brief moment, looked to be gaining on Torres. But Torres had an answer and touched the wall just ahead, with Coughlin registering a mark of 53.83. Nymeyer, who turned in a gutsy swim, touched in a career-best of 54.02 and landed a relay berth, along with fourth-place finisher Jessica Hardy (54.62). Hardy is also qualified in the 100 breaststroke.
Grabbing fifth and sixth place were Emily Silver and Julia Smit, who also earned relay invitations. Silver was timed in 54.91 with Smit, an 800 free relay qualifier, going 54.99. Seventh went to Kara Lynn Joyce in 55.02 and Amanda Weir clocked 55.14 for eighth.
Video Footage Removed Due to NBC Restrictions
Go to Swimming World’s 2008 Olympics Landing Page for the most comprehensive coverage of the meet on the Internet.