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Peggy Shinn Blog - Inspiration? Or intimidation?

July 11, 2008, 4:23 p.m. (ET)


Dara Torres is going to the Olympics. Not the oldest Olympian ever - that honor is held by Sweden's Oscar Swahn, who won a silver medal at the 1920 Olympics in shooting at age 72 - the 41-year-old swimmer and mother of a 2-year-old has made headlines in just about every major media outlet. And some of the descriptions have been amusing.

Jim Litke, writing for the Associated Press, described Torres as being at an age when most people are embarrassed just to be seen in a swimsuit.

Elizabeth Weil titled her Torres profile in The New York Times Magazine, A Swimmer of a Certain Age, and described Torres as a "hero of the middle-aged."

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle described her as not just ancient but Pleistocene and "practically stepping out of a museum display case."

Then there's nbcolympics.com's Alan Abrahamson, who called her the face of a generation.

And we wish the body too.

Inspired by her performance, I decided to shake up my routine yesterday and head to the city pool for adult lap swim - something I did occasionally before my daughter was born (she's 7). On the second lap, my 45-year-old triceps were sore, and soon I could feel an old hamstring injury nagging with every flutter kick. By my 40th lap, I'm not quite sure why the lifeguard didn't jump in after me.

More than just a handful of Advil, I needed an hour of yoga, a massage, and probably an ice bath too. Instead, I had to get back to work.

So much for inspiration. Torres's achievement now seemed intimidating.

After swim practice, Torres, I read, lifts weights with her strength coach, then gets stretched for a couple of hours by two people whose job it is to perform this task. She's also got a couple of masseuses and a chiropractor in her entourage.

My entourage consists of a cleaning lady who comes bimonthly and a cat that brings wildlife into the house.

Even if I had time to train again (I was once a so-so competitive cyclist), I certainly wouldn't have time to work out the anatomical kinks that have come with all the miles my body has accrued in 4.5 decades. It takes time to keep older engines tuned and our chassis rust free - perhaps more time that it does to actually drive them.

Of course, it pays to have a Lamborghini to begin with, and not a Pinto.


Peggy Shinn is a freelance contributor for teamusa.org. This blog was not subject to the approval of the United States Olympic Committee or any National Governing Bodies.