10 Questions with Dara Torres

Dara Torres explains her motivation to race: "I'm so freaking competitive it's unbelievable." (Photo courtesy of Toyota Motorsports)
The beautiful Dara Torres is the first four time Olympian in women's swimming.

Between Olympic years, Torres spends time as a catwalk model, journalist, and takes part in extreme sports. Now we can add high-speed driving to that list.

With her incredible natural beauty, Torres was the first athlete to appear among the supermodels in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue in 1994. (Imagine a woman who looks as good as Cindy Crawford or Kathy Ireland without even having to wear makeup!) She has also appeared on TV for Extreme Step, The Next Step, Fox Sports Sunday, NHL Cool Shots, Tae Bo infomercials, Fitness Spokesperson for Self Magazine, and Turner Sports.

After retiring from competitive swimming in 1992, Dana decided to return to the Olympic lanes, and began training in 1999. After some work to her physique (she gained 10 kg in the space of a year) and a few words of advice from her coach Richard Quick, she lined up for competition in the hope of grabbing one of the Olympic berths for Sydney. During the American Olympic trials in Indianapolis she confirmed her return to the fray by registering the world's third-fastest time in the 100m butterfly (57.58 sec). At the Sydney games she competed in the 50m freestyle (winning the bronze), the 100m freestyle (bronze again) and the 100m butterfly (even another bronze), the 4x100m relay (gold), and the 4x100m medley (gold).

With no Olympics to compete in this Spring, Dara came to Long Beach, California, to race in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity race of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in a 10-lap sprint to raise money for charity. SportsHollywood caught up with Dara at the celebrity practice at Willow Springs raceway in California on March 10, and asked a few questions.


SportsHollywood: You were an Olympic athlete, how does this compare?

TORRES: I'm so friggin' competitive, It's unbelievable, Oh my gosh! You just figure that after the Olympics your competitiveness will mellow out, but not at all. I'm out there with these guys and everyone wants to beat everyone. It's different because it's a machine you're using to get across the finish line and with me (at the Olympics) it was just my body and that was it.

SportsHollywood: What kind of car do you drive every day?

TORRES: I don't have a car because I live in New York City, so the subway's my car.

SportsHollywood: So then how did you get interested in car racing?

TORRES: I did a feature on NASCAR in North Carolina a few years a go for a hockey show. I never was a race fan before, because when you watch them on TV they just go around and around. You really have such a better appreciation of it when you actually go to a race and see what the drivers do and how much energy and effort they out into it... and how scary it is! It's just amazing when you go --I absolutely love it now.

SportsHollywood: Rate the competition here: Who are your biggest threats? Everybody says you're going to win.

TORRES: They're crazy. I think there are two groups. There's the group learning to shift, then thee's the rest of us -- and it'll just be whoever's on that day.

SportsHollywood: How many speeding tickets have you gotten in the last year?

TORRES: None. I live in New York. I don't drive.

SportsHollywood: Yeah, but you swim over 55, don't you?

TORRES: I've been known to.

SportsHollywood: Name five parts of a car engine:

TORRES: Uuuuuuuummm... I have no idea. Is there a radiator on it? Belts? Metal? That's three. Then there's an oil thing and a water thing. There. What did I win?

SportsHollywood: How do you go to the bathroom in a racing suit?

TORRES: Good question. There are no flaps or anything. Hopefully the only stain I will have down there is this damn mustard stain I got at lunch.

SportsHollywood: Have you scared yourself out there on the track yet?

TORRES: I did the first day. I did a 360, and they pulled me into the pits -- and I'm like, "What?!?" They're like, "We just want to calm you down, make sure you're okay, make sure the car's okay." Then they let me out and I was goooone!

SportsHollywood: Who has the worst tattoo on the Olympic swim team:

TORRES: They got those after the competition, so I really didn't see them. There. Did you buy it?

SportsHollywood: No, but Kaitlin Sandeno tried the same evasion. Those tattoos must be uuugly! Anyway, do you ever expect anything in your life to be able to match your Olympic experience?

TORRES: Nope. Not a chance. That's just an experience that nothing will come close to, because you work all your life for it. And when you finally attain those goals, well, it's just something you have to experience.

SportsHollywood: Where do you keep your medals?

TORRES: The medals are under my bed. In fact the older ones I had to get polished in a jewelry store because they were tarnished.

2001 pole winner. (Photo courtesy of Toyota Motorsports)
SportsHollywood: Who should play you in The Dara Torres Story?

TORRES: Meg Ryan! Just kidding. But she's beautiful. (Josh Brolin gives her a look from nearbye) What?!?

SportsHollywood: Men's synchronized swimming: For or against? And if you're for it, should they wear makeup?

TORRES: I'm for it... but no makeup. I was swimming in Santa Clara, where the only guy is, and it was really hot that day, so all of the women were wearing two-pieces. I looked up quickly and thought, "Oh my God -- that woman doesn't have a top on!" He was just so graceful that he seemed part of the women. It's just an awesome sport.

SportsHollywood: Should any swimming performance that requires makeup and show tunes really be considered an Olympic sport?


SportsHollywood: Ever go for an entire day without remembering to remove your swim cap and goggles?

TORRES: No. Never. It cuts off your circulation!

SportsHollywood: Kaitlin did. Answer honestly: When I say the phrase, "Misty Hyman's butterfly stroke," does it sound to you like swimming analysis or a porno movie title?

TORRES: No comment.

SportsHollywood: So I guess with no car, you won't have any problems speeding on the way home?

TORRES: No, but what was really weird was after driving these cars, I got in a car yesterday and I felt like doing the same thing with the stick shift and going around the curves real fast, It wasn't a good thing! (Laughs)

Main Page

Interview by Dan Mahin and Jeff Hause

Dara Dara Torres: Olympic Swimmer

Olympic Games
50m freestyle: 3rd (2000)
100m freestyle: 7th (1988), 3rd (2000)
100m butterfly: 3rd (2000)
4x100m relay: 1st (1984, 1992), 3rd (1988), 1st (2000)
4x100m medley: 2nd (1988), 1st (2000)

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