What might have been an innocent April Fools’ joke for others turned into a bit of a brouhaha for five-time Olympian Dara Torres. That’s because when Torres, 47, tweeted that she was coming out of retirement to make yet another run at Olympic glory it seemed, well, more than believable.
The mother of one told The Washington Post that she came up with the joke with a friend while working out in the pool — an activity she keeps up around three times a week. What she didn’t expect, however, was for so many people to believe a comeback at her age was possible.
“I think that’s what made me feel so horrible — I don’t think there was one person who thought that I couldn’t do this,” Torres told The Washington Post in a phone call Thursday morning.
Torres’s hoax announcement was greeted by a slew of congratulatory tweets from fans. The Washington Post even wrote an article pontificating that while the date of her announcement automatically made it suspicious, Torres competing in Rio wasn’t out of the realm of possibilities. She’s twice defied the odds before.
Torres began her Olympic career in 1984. She went on to compete in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics before announcing her first retirement. At age 33, however, she came out or retirement to compete in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, where she took home five medals. After that, she announced her second retirement, which would last until 2008, when at the age of 41, she competed in what would be her fifth and, she confirmed Thursday, final Olympics in 2008 in Beijing. Torres amassed a total of 12 medals in her five Olympic Games, making her one of the most decorated female athletes in history.
Alas, there will not be a third comeback.
“If I could, I would,” Torres told the Post.
She said her April Fools’ announcement and the largely positive reaction from fans did give her “little twinges,” but ultimately, she said, “when I got to the pool, I thought there was no way.” She added that her body doesn’t recover like it used to.
That doesn’t mean Torres won’t travel to Rio in 2016 to take in the Olympics as a spectator.
“I would love to (attend),” Torres said, however, at the moment she has made no concrete travel plans.
Torres, who still works with USA Swimming to encourage more kids to take up the sport, said she doesn’t foresee a future where she’d attend as a coach, though.
“As far as coaching, I don’t know if I could deal with that pressure,” Torres said. “I love pressure for me, but not having someone else’s livelihood depend on me.”
While Torres continues to work out in the pool and elsewhere (she spoke to the Post while on an elliptical), her future career might be in broadcasting. Torres is currently one of 12 women featured on the first nationally televised all-female sports talk show called “We Need to Talk.” It airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.
She also says she’s been enjoying spending more time with her 9-year-old daughter, who, yes, has taken up swimming.
“If you ask her, she says she wants to be an Olympic swimmer,” Torres said. “I’m leaving all the doors open for her.” If her daughter does become a future Olympian, Torres will likely make the announcement on any day but April 1.