Dara Torres is going to her fifth Olympics. Her fifth. No U.S. swimmer has ever done that. Think about it. Since she didn't compete in the last Olympics, it's a span of 24 years - she won the first of her nine medals in 1984.
Now she's 41. Her adorable, curly-haired two year-old daughter, Tessa, watched from the stands the other night, a lollypop twirling in her mouth, as her Mommy won the 100m freestyle.
Making the Olympic team completely blows out of the water the notion that women of a certain age must put aside their dreams because of a number. With killer abs and a long, lean body, Torres seems timeless.
The rumblings of steroid use that swirl around her are laughable. She's already been through that noise in her last Olympics, the 2000 Games in Sydney, when she won two golds and three bronzes - at the ripe old age of 33.
She was more than irritated. She decided to volunteer for extra drug testing, performed with the latest technology.
What pisses me off about the accusations is I think about all the hours she spends training: swimming lap after endless lap, lifting weights in the gym - all that time working out is time lost with her daughter, time she can never get back. Why would she do all that just to cheat?
Torres is already uncomfortable imagining life without Tessa for a month while she's in Beijing. Does this sound like someone who's on drugs?
She already has the glory. To take steroids to get back for one more go-around is ridiculous. She has nothing left to prove.
Torres' story reminds me of another Olympic hopeful. Aeron Arlin Genet runs Running Divas, which sells really cute running-related clothing. She sells her stuff at some of the big marathon events. I saw her at the expo for the San Diego Marathon. You might remember a certain purchase we made there:
Anyway, I asked her about her training. She was in the process of trying to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the 1,500 meters (the mile). We're talking somewhere below 4:30. Yes, that's under 4 minutes, 30 seconds for a mile. Try that at home, people!
She was shy by just a few seconds. She had a slight injury, but hoped she had enough to make it.
Did I mention that she's 40? She told me that she never imagined it'd be possible for her to still be competing at her age - against women half her age. I was in awe.
I checked her new blog recently, and unfortunately, she fell short of the mark and didn't qualify. But I loved how she said that she doesn't feel done. Not at all.
We don't lose our love of the rush. The desire is still there to push ourselves further than we thought possible. Even if we are not Olympic-caliber, we are out there, seeing how far or how fast or how long we can go. And we are stunned when it is farther, faster and longer than we ever thought possible.
Our bodies may be more beat up than they would've been 20 years ago. Maybe, like Torres said, we need bigger numbers on the scoreboard or timer to see them. Our eyes may be weaker, but not our hearts.
We are not our mothers' 40. We are our own. This is our time. And I pray that when Sage is my age, she sees not limitations, but expectations.
Today, Dara Torres set an American record in the 50m freestyle. I know I will be rooting hard for her next month - cheering for her, and for all of us "middle-aged" moms.