“I don’t think anyone else is doing this,” she said about one exercise. “That’s why I like it.”
“She’s an animal,” said Joseph Andreoni, 19, as he watched from across the room.
Actually, she’s a middle-aged woman who bought her first pair of reading glasses last year, dyes her hair blonde to cover the gray and can’t believe she was foolish enough to install a magnifying mirror in her bathroom, given the alarming amount of information it reveals. Torres, who turned 45 on April 15, is also a favorite to make her sixth Olympic team in the 50-meter freestyle at next month’s U.S. Olympic swimming trials in Omaha.
A 12-time Olympic medalist who won three medals at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, Torres has consistently gotten faster with age, relying on a team of medical and fitness experts to help her outwit Father Time. But this Olympic attempt, she said, has been the hardest by far. Doctors have confirmed what she instinctively knew: Production of hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone that are critical to building muscle and recovering from workouts are continuing to decrease. She can no longer expect to maintain the strength of her youth, let alone improve on it.
“That’s probably the biggest thing I’m [in trouble] on,” Torres said. “They took my levels, and they’re just low. I’m a middle-aged woman: They’re low. Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Actually, she found plenty she could do. If she couldn’t hope to build a stronger body for this Olympic journey, she could at least try to craft a better machine. So she has expanded her team of experts and urged them to shift their focus from strength enhancement to improving the function of her cells, brain activity and neurons. The result: Her unusual, eyebrow-raising regimen got stranger than ever.
“It’s all very, very science-oriented,” Torres said. “Before, in ’08, it was all about my body. Now it’s what’s going on inside my body.”
Even with the new approach, her body has complained and groaned every step of the way. She has had three knee surgeries as well as a pair of operations on an injured shoulder and hernia since the 2008 Summer Games.
“It seems like I’m sore every freaking day,” Torres said in between lifts. “You never get a day where you’re like, ‘My whole body just feels really good.’ ”
‘Most challenging’ Games
During a recent morning swim at Coral Springs Aquatic Complex, Torres’s coach Bruno Darzi poured water into 20-gallon buckets suspended at one end of the pool. He filled Torres’s bucket two-thirds of the way. He filled that of a male training partner only about halfway.