Back To Beijing, Day 2: Dara Torres Made History 10 Years Ago As Oldest Olympic Swimming Medalist

By Chrös McDougall | Aug. 10, 2018, 4:01 a.m. (ET)
(L-R) Natalie Coughlin, Kara Lynn Joyce, Lacey Nymeyer and Dara Torres pose with their silver medals at the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 on Aug. 10, 2008 in Beijing.

 

From the thrilling Opening Ceremony to Michael Phelps’ iconic eight gold medals, the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 were truly unforgettable. Relive the 10-year anniversary of the Games through Aug. 24 as TeamUSA.org recaps the daily highlights from Beijing. Here’s a look at Team USA's performance on Day 2, Aug. 10, 2008.

 

And so it began.

Michael Phelps’ audacious attempt at winning eight Olympic gold medals at one Games was officially underway when he won the men’s 400-meter individual medley on Day 2 of the Olympic Games Beijing 2008.

Phelps battled fellow countryman Ryan Lochte through three legs before obliterating the field in the freestyle. His time of 4:03.84 smashed the world record he had set one day earlier in the heats by nearly four seconds. Lochte ended up with the bronze medal.

As if the pressure wasn’t already high enough on Phelps, he raced with President George W. Bush, First Lady Laura Bush and former President George H. W. Bush in the stands.

Phelps gave the delegation a thumbs up after the race, but with seven finals to go the celebration was short.

“I’m not downplaying this race by any means, but I have to put that race behind me,” Phelps said. “I have to act like it never happened because I have so many tough races ahead of me.”

Indeed, just nine hours later Phelps was back in the pool qualifying for the next day’s 200 freestyle final.

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The Water Cube proved to be the place to be for Team USA on Day 2 of the Games, with three more American medals.

In addition to Phelps and Lochte in the 400 IM, the U.S. women’s 4x100 freestyle team won a silver medal while Larsen Jensen took the bronze in the men’s 400 freestyle and Katie Hoff was third in the women’s 400 IM.

In the relay, 41-year-old Dara Torres became the oldest Olympic swimming medalist.

“As I’ve said from the beginning of this, age is just a number,” she said. “When we’re in the water, I know the water doesn’t know what age we are.”

Meanwhile, the men’s 4x100 freestyle team broke the world record in the prelims.

The action on this Sunday wasn’t all in the swimming pool, even if it seemed like it at the time.

Women’s gymnastics began with Team USA finishing second to China in the qualifying round, and Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin topping the list of all-around qualifiers.

Meanwhile, team sports were in full swing, with several American teams in action.

The U.S. men’s basketball team beat host China 101-70 in a hotly anticipated opening game, with an estimated 1 billion worldwide television audience — and the current and former president again in the house.

Back in a different swimming pool, the U.S. men’s water polo team opened with an 8-4 win over China.

The U.S. men’s volleyball team also won its opener 3-2 over Venezuela.

Chrös McDougall covered the 2008 Games for the Olympic News Service. He has covered the Olympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.