I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Torres’ face and story on the TVs at the gym or the cover of a magazine or on every single health and fitness website, as of late. Her story, complete with YouTube videos and adorable chubby baby, has been told and retold to the point where I dare say she is the face of the U.S. Olympic swim team, dethroning the buff, talented and yet tragically not old Michael Phelps.
Dara Torres Is Magic
We women are taught to fear aging. As I approached my thirtieth birthday in June, I probably heard “You’re metabolism will fall and you’ll gain weight and wrinkles will sprout overnight” more than I got “Happy Birthday.” But Torres is the magic antidote to all of that nonsense. She is fit, with abs that would make a photoshop editor cry at their perfection. She is fierce, giving interviews with a drive and motivation that can only indicate what to expect of her in the pool. She is the ultimate American Woman Dichotomy: motherly with her photogenic baby AND sexy with her full spread for Maxim. She’s better than Botox.
Dara Torres Is Too Magic
All that perfection comes at a price. Many are starting to question how Torres, at 41, can swim better now than she did at her “peak” 15 years ago. In addition to working out significantly less, she’s had a baby, retired, unretired and undergone major surgery – twice – in the past year. That’s a lot of to overcome. Some say it is too much.
Despite testing clean, Torres is now falling under a cloud of doping suspicions. She answers her critics by claiming two advantages that her younger self didn’t have: an amino acid cocktail and a fitness technique called “resistance stretching.” The former is supposed to help repair and build muscles while the latter is supposed to help her recover faster and be a more efficient swimmer. All great things, true, but great things that money can buy and other swimmers have tried her “secret to success” and have not achieved the performance gains she has. For a more detailed analysis of Torres’ two not-so-secret weapons, check out this piece in Slate.
Role Model or Just Rolled?
My first thought on this matter is that even if she is doping – and clean drug tests don’t vindicate her as the pros have long been ahead of the tests – girl has put in a lot of serious work and time. She’s very good. Do we need more girl-on-girl hate?
Or is she just another in a long list of examples held up to empower women but end up discouraging us with their dishonesty?