Dara Torres could easily qualify as the most impressive athlete on this list, since she has arguably accomplished the most while competing in the world’s greatest sporting event, the Olympics. From 1984 to 2000, Torres competed in four Summer Olympics as a swimmer specializing in the freestyle and butterfly strokes, and during that time collected four gold, one silver, and four bronze medals. However, while those accolades may be impressive, they seem to pale in comparison to what she accomplished after becoming a mother in 2006.
At the ripe age of 39, just three weeks after her daughter’s birth, Torres was back in the pool at the Masters Nationals where she broke a world record. What’s more impressive is that just 14 months later, in August 2007, Torres won a national title and broke her own American record in the 50 freestyle. Obviously still desiring to compete on the world’s grandest stage, Torres made her fifth Olympic team when she qualified for 2008 Beijing Games. While there, she took part in three races, and won a silver medal in each, bringing her career total medal count to 12.
Winning three silver medals is quite the accomplishment by itself, but considering that Torres was twice the age of many of her competitors, that she was a mother, and that she was the first woman past the age of 40 to swim in the Olympics, makes what she did that much more impressive. It seems like everyone around the pool recognizes and applauds Torres’ amazing accomplishments, but six-time Olympic coach Michael Lohberg may have summed up the swimmer best when he said, “… Dara is not measured by normal standards. She is truly an exception, defying several laws of life."