Deb’s Moment With Dara Torres – Age is Just a Number

Dara Torres back at home (South Florida) in 2009 at a photo shoot for a fitness nutrition line she was endorsing. Photo courtesy of Dan Power.

I don’t know how many of you are following the qualifying rounds for the Olympics, but when I watched Dara Torres miss making a record sixth U.S. swim team by nine-hundredths of a second, finishing fourth in the 50-meter freestyle on  the last night of the trials this past Monday, I actually cried as I saw the look of defeat in her eyes. Sometimes the split second, blink of an eye randomness of life just seems so unfair – an entire future shaped by nine-hundredths of a second… 

We’ve all felt defeat at one point or another in our lives and the degree of severity varies significantly. For example, although I was very happy for all the Nose-to-Nose Awards winners at BlogPaws, I have to admit I felt a little disappointment that I was not bringing home a victory bounty of Halo pet stew for my local shelter like I had hoped. But, it’s not like the whole world was watching, wondering how Zee & Zoey would do. Plus, these contests happen all the time to raise food for pets, not just every four years like the Olympics.  I honestly don’t even think my mother knows I lost, let alone too many others outside of my immediate cat circle and chances are good  that I will have an opportunity to try again for some canned kitty gold. For Dara, this was nationally televised, and the whole world was watching to find out if this 45 year old would beat the odds and be given the chance to compete in yet one more Olympics…

Dara will not be competing in any more Olympics. This was her last hurrah, but, the thing about defeat, is what you ultimately do with it. Dara is the epitome of a survivor and believer that you can do anything with your life and she will be fine.  Since 1984, she has won 12 Olympic medals, tied with Jenny Thompson as the most decorated U.S. female swimmer, and has the distinction of being the first American to swim in five Olympics and the oldest female swimmer ever at the games. Impressive no matter how you look at it.  Not to mention, she has a 6 year old daughter, Tessa,  who will be entering first grade in the fall. It will be nice that Dara can spend more time with her, as I am certain she would feel Tessa is her most incredible accomplishment.

It is hard not to define Dara ‘s accomplishments by her age, but to her, “age is just a number” and that is the title of the inspirational and well-received book she published in 2009  about coming out of retirement to pursue her dream at age 41 to compete in the Beijing Olympics where she subsequently won three silver medals.  With humor and candor, she revealed how and why the dream came to her and the overall message of the book is one of staying fit, aging gracefully, and pursuing your dreams. I love that message and it is one that guides me every day. Dan and I actually met Dara back in the summer of 2009 through a marketing client of ours. We were hired to help design and launch a website and product packaging to promote a  fitness  amino acid complex Dara was endorsing and we were doing a photo shoot with her for that. She trains in our local sports complex and is everything you would expect her to be – she is strong – both mentally and physically, funny, smart, and extremely fit. 

Dara and I at the photo shoot. She was 41 at the time, and me, 47. This was before my Zee/Zoey fame, so you may not recognize me without my trademark leopard ears!

She puts me to shame in that department, although I have never claimed to be much of an athlete. My exercise and fitness routine consists of  just how fast my fingers go while I am typing and how much muscle I have to use to scoop litter. I can’t even remotely fathom what it is like to be so dedicated to a sport, that your entire life is consumed by keeping physically fit, but I certainly admire and respect her drive. My life is consumed with making the world a better place for cats, so we all have our thing…

Dara will get over this and  I imagine she will do something that will involve coaching, or mentoring, or motivational speaking, or something like that and will excel at whatever avenue she chooses. That’s just how she is and like a cat, she will bounce back and land on her feet.  I love that philosophy and that  has been my  theme as of late too. No matter the defeats life throws at you, it does not mean you did not give it your best or that you are a failure. You get up, move on, and don’t let age determine what you can or can’t do in life. Congratulations Dara! You rock in my world!!

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  1. RumpyDog! says:

    Sorry about not bringing home the stew. I hesitated putting myself out there asking for a Petties nomination, but then I reminded myself that there is no shame in losing, only in not trying. And trust me when I say that in my book, you’re a winner.

    • Deb says:

      RumpyDog – I am glad you reconsidered about the Petties. Your blog rocks and provides so much wonderful information in a very educational and real way. I love the interviews and I always appreciate all the effort you put into your posts. You sure are a winner in my eyes as well!

  2. Marg says:

    WE did watch the Olympic trials and were sad about Dara but sure do give her credit for that huge effort that she made and she sure is a winner in our books. Great tribute to her.

  3. What a wonderful post, Deb. Dara sounds like an inspiration…but so are you. You remind us that we each have so much to offer. Winning is fun…but living life, enjoying play and each other is what it’s all about.

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for the kind words Glogirly! I am glad that I can provide a format to remind people that we are important and do have so much to offer! Winning is definately fun, but enjoying life really is the best!! xoxo

  4. Loved this for so many reasons!!!

    I was captivated with Dara back in her last Olympic games and was pulling for her to make it this time around.
    I am soooo happy that you were lucky enough to meet her and confirm that she is everything that I thought she was and MORE!!! Her strength, guts, etc etc make a statement for women 40+ (and ALL women!) that we can be anything we choose to be and even if we lose we should GO FOR THE GOLD!!

    I have been a huge fan of the summer olympics since I was a teenager because I swam the 50 meter freestyle on our summer swim team for a number of years (that and the relay)…my dream was always to be an Olympic swimmer and I am in complete awe of them!

    Thanks for such a fabulous post! BTW you BOTH look gorgeous in that photo!
    Kudos to YOU for all you have accomplished as well!

    • Deb says:

      Wow Caren! It’s really cool the connection you had with this post! We tend to only assoicate each other with cats, so I was fascinated to learn that you were a swimmer! If you have not read Dara’s book, you should get it. It’s quite an easy read, but extremely inspirational and insightful.

      As far as the photo…. well, thanks, but I know better!! Dara is all nice and evenly tanned. Me, who may as well be a vampire, my skin was all blotchy and red because I don’t do well in the sun!! But, I appreciate the compliment nonetheless!! xoxoxo

  5. I love Dara too and really like this post Deb. .

    • Deb says:

      Thank you Gracey and Joanne!! We appreciate you stopping by and hope all is getting back to “normal” in your world!

  6. Cheysuli says:

    Sometimes it’s great just to be recognized and nominated. Yes, winning is fun and might raise your profile but there are many other ways to do it. I think you are very out there and the more you get out there, the more recognized you will be at your particular niche.

    • Deb says:

      Thank you Chey – it’s not really so much about the profile, as it is about wanting to help all the kitties in the world who don’t have the same wonderful loving furever homes that some of us other cats have!

  7. Sheba says:

    Hi Deb. Great post. You’re right age is just a number.

    I was always told it’s not the winning that matters it’s the taking part that counts.

  8. Bernadette says:

    Wow, so wonderful to read about her–I don’t follow any sports including the Olympics, but I love the human interest stories that come from sports. The true sports person is also an artist at what they do, and I can always relate to their trials and successes, much like Dara’s. What a wonderful person she is, with so many accomplishments, and so are all of us. (I didn’t win, either, and I didn’t even get to go and hang out with everyone!)

    P.S. I like the color change in the article/comments section–I loved the way it looked, but was a little difficult to read. This is so much easier.

    • Deb says:

      Bernadette – good point – watching her swim is like art in motion. Seeing her up close like I did was amazing – she is an absolute machine and takes your breath away watching her!

      I’m glad you like the color change… it is refreshing to be able to read the text without squinting!! 🙂

  9. CATachresis says:

    Like Bernadette I’m not really a follower of sports (except Wimbledon is on at the moment and it’s difficult to miss). I love your honesty in this post Deb and I think we all, if we are honest, would agree with you wholeheartedly about disappointment in not winning, especially when we put so much effort into something. But, as you say, it is better to have tried and lost than never to have tried at all! lol. Dara is an inspiration.

    I swear I did not read this first, but I do have an award for you over at CATachresis 🙂 I think your blog is very illuminating (and many other good things), so feel free to accept it if you would like. BTW I really don’t have any idea what the rules were that went with it, so we’ve got to the point of making it up as we go along! xox

    • Deb says:

      You know me CATachresis… If nothing else, I am honest! Thank you for the Illuminating award! I am so bad at those kinds of awards that require homework on my part, but I do appreciate the sentiment!! xoxoxo