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12-Time Olympic Medalist: Swimmer Dara Torres (ep. 380)

Dara Torres 12-time Olympic swimmer

Dara Torres, 12-time Olympic medalist, joins the Live Inspired Podcast with John O’Leary to discuss her most remarkable accomplishments, balancing a career with family and defying expectations.

Dara Torres made  history as the first American swimmer to compete in five Olympic Games and again as the oldest swimmer to win an Olympic medal at age 41 in 2008.

Today, Dara shares the “heart-racing, thrilling” feeling of earning her first medal in 1984, what it felt like to defy expectations with two comebacks and how she balanced her career while being a mother.

With the 2020 Olympics in full swing, this conversation  continues the celebration of inspiring moments in global sports.

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  • Before becoming a 12-time Olympic medalist, Dara recognized her love for swimming at a YMCA competition at 12 years old.
  • Caught up in excitement of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, her first, Dara recalls how rival Jill Sterkel helped her refocus after swimming poorly during qualifying.
  • Heart-racing, thrilling, adrenaline-filled for days: Dara shares the indescribable feeling of winning her first gold in 1984 and her appreciation of her 2008 silver.
  • At University of Florida, Dara earned 28 All-American swimming honors – the maximum possible in a college career – yet she sees that time as a dark period in her life.
  • Her underrated battled with bulimia: After five years, Dara sought help and set small, daily goals to overcome the disease.
  • After three Olympics + four medals, Dara left the sport for seven years before making her first comeback at 33 at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.
  • Eight years later, now 41 and a mom, Dara returns for her second comeback at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Earning three silver medals, she became the oldest U.S. Olympic swimmer in history, the first American swimmer to appear in five Olympic Games and the oldest swimmer to win a medal in Olympic history.
  • There is no “I” in team: Dara shares her gratitude for those who played a role in her accomplishments.

Did you enjoy hearing from an Olympic champion? You’ll love my conversation with Shannon Miller, one of the most decorated American gymnast. She shares the memorable moments of her gymnastics career, her devotion to advocating for women’s health + how she empowers others to breakthrough personal challenges. Listen to ep. 256 now.



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  1. Q. What is the best book you’ve ever read?
    A. The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. – Eleanor Roosevelt
  2. Q. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today?
    A. Treating everyone equal.
  3. Q. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be?
    A. Something that represents my family, like a photo album.
  4. Q. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be?
    A. Jesse Owens to learn how he overcame adversity.
  5. Q. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
    A. Treat everyone equal.
  6. Q. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
    A. Don’t worry what other people think of you.
  7. Q. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read?
    A. Always on the go. Longevity in the sport.