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    Dara Torres: Don’t put an age limit on your dreams

    Washington, DC—Dara Torres, the oldest and 12-time Olympic medalist, says your dreams shouldn’t have age limits. She addressed attendees of the American Optometric Association at Optometry's Meeting 2017, detailing her Olympic comeback after seven years away from the sport and giving birth.

    “You think as you get older competitiveness dies down, but it doesn’t,” says Torres.

    In 2004, after winning her fifth Olympic medal, Torres recalls her thoughts while standing on the podium receiving her medal.

    “I’ll never forget the fifth medal being put around my neck,” she says. “I was thinking about retirement and finding a job as the medal ceremony was happening.”

    Related: Gladwell: Health care is a mystery wrapped in a puzzle

    Life after the Olympics

    In 2005, Torres became pregnant with her daughter. In an effort to stay in shape she was determined to work out while pregnant, but she had to stop as it made her sick each time.

    For exercise while pregnant, Torres decided to resort to what she knew—swimming.

    When she was six months pregnant, Torres recalls a time when her competitiveness got the best of her.

    “A guy tried to race me at six months pregnant,” she says. “I went really hard despite my doctor’s orders. My coach was not happy with that decision.”

    After the birth of her daughter, Torres was eager to get back in shape though her doctor advised her to not do anything for six weeks.

    “A week and a half later, I went to the gym and was working out,” she says. “My doctor was there and I tried avoiding him, but he eventually saw me. So, I asked if I could swim in a meet in a week and a half, and he told me to go ahead.”

    She swam successfully in the meet, so she decided to swim in another one with her husband at his request. She did so well in the meet with her husband that people told her how great it would be to see a 40–year-old in the Olympics.

    Back to the Olympic Games

    Torres recalls toiling over getting back into the pool competitively and wrestling with her feelings of attempting a comeback after years away from the sport. She spoke with family and friends to see if they would talk her off the ledge but found only more encouragement to return.

    “After enough chatter, I decided to do it and begin training for the Olympics,” says Torres. “I had to think if Jack Nicklaus can win the Masters over 40, why can’t I win in the Olympics.”

    Giovanni Castelli
    Giovanni Castelli is the content specialist for Optometry Times. He is a 2014 graduate of Cleveland State University with a degree in ...

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