Coral Springs Swim Club’s Dara Torres Finishes Fourth, Misses Shot At Sixth Olympics

Coral Springs Swim Club’s Dara Torres Finishes Fourth, Misses Shot At Sixth Olympics


July 2, 2012

The journey ended for swimming great Dara Torres on the final night of the U.S. Olympic trials at CenturyLink Center in Omaha.

The 45-year-old mother was fourth in the 50-meter freestyle, ending her quest for a record sixth Olympic team.

Torres stared at the scoreboard, bowed her head over a lane line and then hugged and congratulated the top two qualifiers, Jessica Hardy and Kara Lynn Joyce. She waved to her 6-year-old daughter Tessa Grace, dressed in a fluorescent green t-shirt that read “Go Mom.”

“I tried the best I could, I gave it everything I had,” Torres said. “This is really over.

“Obviously, I was hoping to make the team. That was my goal and missing it by less than a tenth of a second is tough, but I don’t think there’s anything I could have changed.

“I’m most proud of the fact that I hung in there this long. I’ve had more downs than ups the past couple of years.”

Hardy, 25, won in 24.50 seconds and Joyce, 26, was second in 24.73. Torres finished in 24.82, missing a trip to London by 9/100ths of a second. It was a faster time than what she swam in 2000 (24.9) to qualify for the Olympics.

The difference for Torres was her start off the blocks. She was 5/100ths slower than her great semifinal start that earned her second in her heat and third seed overall for finals.

Torres was emotional before her race and admittedly was just as nervous as she was at her first U.S. trials in 1984.

“Being 45, getting fourth in Olympic trials against girls almost half my age, it’s OK,” Torres said. “I’m used to winning but that wasn’t the goal here. The goal was to try and make it. I didn’t quite do it but I’m really happy with how I did. I was able to hang in there.

“I was very emotional before my swim,” Torres said. “When I was putting my suit on with my trainer (Anne Tierney), we started crying because I started thinking about Michael. In July of 2010 he had said to me, ‘Let’s go for this.’ I really wanted to finish the story that I started with him. I didn’t make it but I know he would have been proud.”

After getting out of the pool for the last time at trials, she motioned to her daughter and walked into the stands, scooped her up and walked back on the pool deck with her in her arms. It was one final moment she wanted to savor with her daughter, who was only 2-years-old when Torres made her fifth Olympic team in 2008 at age 41.

Hardy said she was thrilled to race against Torres.

“I love racing Dara,” Hardy said. “I wish she could have made it this year, but swimming with her the past couple years has been really an awesome treat for sure, an honor. She is an inspiration.”

After winning three silver medals in Beijing and just missing a gold medal in the 50, Torres underwent radical knee surgery and started to work her way back defying the odds. She and her six-time Olympic coach Michael Lohberg talked about making another run at it and the two worked together until Lohberg succumbed to aplastic anemia on April 4, 2011.

Torres carried on their goal working with Lohberg’s successor, Coral Springs Swim Club head coach Bruno Darzi, a former Lohberg swimmer.

“We overcame a lot of difficulties, there were so many things we had to fix,” Darzi said. “She put 100 percent into it. She left nothing behind. She did everything I asked her to do and everyone else asked of her.

“She is an amazing person to work with. She put so much time and effort into it. She didn’t swim the way she wanted to and she is a little upset. She did everything she needed to do. By far, she is the best swimmer I have ever worked with.”

Torres retires from the sport with 12 medals, including four relay gold, tied with Jenny Thompson as the most decorated U.S. female swimmer. She also still holds the American record in the 50-meter freestyle in 24.07 she swam in Beijing.

Asked if she would pursue the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, she shook her head emphatically and said “This is it.” She said she is going to enjoy some time with her daughter, have a nice summer and cheer on the U.S. team.

In the only other race held on the eighth and final night of the trials, Andrew Gemmell won the 1500-meter freestyle in 14:52.91.

Connor Jaeger, after swimming 1600 meters by accident the night before, qualified second in the 1500 in only his fifth time ever he has swum the event in 14:52.51. They were the fourth and fifth fastest times in the world this year. Both overtook early leader Chad LaTourette who set the pace for the first 1100 meters.


On Monday night’s local news, NBC’s Justin Finch visited Coral Springs Aquatic Complex for a live remote and talked with sprint and age group coach Chris Jackson and swimmers about Dara Torres. The feature also included an old interview with Torres before she left for the trials. Several swim team members including Brandon Goldman and Emma Lincoln posed with Finch for photos poolside…

Michael Phelps decided to drop the 200-meter freestyle to focus on the 400-meter freestyle relay which the Aussies are favored to win. It leaves Phelps with seven events. It also gives Ricky Berens the opportunity to compete in the 200-meter freestyle as an individual. He was already on the team for the 400 and 800 relays. Phelps’ coach Bob Bowman announced the decision on Monday. “No one should be expected to do that twice,” Bowman said referring to Phelps eight gold medal haul in 2008. “Once was more than enough.”Phelps also repeated his plans to retire after London. “I won’t be coming back, put it on record,” Phelps said…

Former Mission Bay coach Steve Bultman of Texas A&M Aggies, with two swimmers on the Olympic team, and Todd Schmitz, Missy Franklin’s coach, were named assistant coaches for the Team USA Olympic women’s coaching staff…

Total attendance for the weeklong trials was 167,048 beating the 2008 total of 160,063…Average age of the U.S. men’s Olympic team is 26 and dominated by post-grads, and women’s team is 21…The U.S. is sending 48 swimmers (25 women, 23 men) to London after sending 43 to Beijing.


“Back to work. Dryland session and a pool workout, here we go. Felt great working out again! Teri wrote me a 4K practice I completed with my husband. I’ve got 25 days to get faster.”—Dana Vollmer

“It’s official. I am a coach on the 2012 USA Olympic staff. Thanks USA Swimming. London here USA comes.”—Todd Schmitz

“Woohoo! Yay for Ricky Berens for securing an individual swim in the 200 free at London 2012. This is so exciting.”—Rebecca Soni

“Farewell Omaha! Thanks for the amazing memories. My family and I will always remember swim trials 2012.”—Janet Evans

“Dream come true! This is incredible, can’t believe all of this is happening to me.”—Ricky Berens

“Aww Dara talked about her coach passing away. We miss you Coach Michael.”—Leonie Davies, former SOFLO swimmer

“Dara still won in my book.”—SOFLO swimmer Keegan Boisson-Yates

“Well, I gave it everything I’ve got and left no stones unturned. Time to cheer on all the amazing USA swimmers heading to London.”—Dara Torres

Sharon Robb can be reached at

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 180: Marathon Swimmer Palfrey Gives Up Record Swim Attempt

AQUATIC NOTEBOOK, Issue 180: Marathon Swimmer Palfrey Gives Up Record Swim Attempt


July 2, 2012

Marathon swimmer Penny Palfrey endured jellyfish stings and shark sightings but the strong currents in the Florida Straits pushing her off course was too much to handle.

The 49-year-old grandmother was forced to give up her quest of completing the 103-mile swim from Cuba to Florida without the aid of a shark cage early Sunday morning.

Palfrey had made it well past the halfway mark and had been in the water for more than 40 hours before being pulled out by her crew.

Palfrey was hospitalized in Key West with severe stings, dehydration, mouth ulcers and blisters.

“Penny has been 100 percent focused on this swim for a year, so she was quite a bit upset,” said her husband Chris at a news conference in Key West.

“There were of course some tears. She didn’t know what was happening until we told her so it took a few minutes while she took it in.

“She was still strong but 41 hours of continuous swimming, she was physically exhausted. It was really only her mental focus that was keeping her going. She was going really well but she only had a few more hours in her.”

Palfrey had hoped to finish within 40 to 50 hours. American marathoner Diana Nyad, 62, also had two unsuccessful attempts at the crossing. She is training for a third attempt later this month weather permitting.


All members of Australia’s swimming team headed to the London Olympics will receive a share of more than $750,000 to assist in their final preparation for the Games. Athletes will also be eligible to earn financial performance bonuses based on their medal and finals achievements in London. An individual gold medal is worth $35,000 and relay gold medal $60,000 to be shared across both heats and finals swimmers. The goal of the Aussie swim federation is to be the world’s leading swimming nation by 2016…

Aussie Olympic athletes have been banned from using the sedatives Stilnox, Rohypnol and Mogadon. They have been warned their rooms will be raided if they are suspected of using the sedatives. Aussie Olympic Committee president John Coates made the recent announcement and said the AOC is rewriting its official team medical manual to include the sleeping pills. The action stems from swimming great Grant Hackett’s admission in a newspaper article that he developed a dependency on Stilnox after being prescribed the drug by team doctors and lost his shot at a gold medal…

The 4,700 Olympic medals have been completed and are now tucked away in the vault in the Tower of London for safe keeping until the Olympics begin…

Houston is among eight cities that have put in bids to host the 2016 or 2018 World Short Course Swimming Championships. The University of Houston or the 11,000-seat Berry Center, a high school arena in northwest Houston, is a possible site to be converted to a pool venue. Other cities bidding are Eindhoven, Netherlands; Hong Kong; Windsor, Canada; Abu Dhabi; China; Christchurch, New Zealand; and Gold Coast Australia. The meet will be awarded in December.

Sharon Robb can be reached at