Remembering Dara Torres

I first met Dara Torres about 24 years ago when she was a high school senior visiting the University of Florida with an interest in swimming and broadcasting. We walked around the studios at WRUF for 10-15 minutes and it was obvious that I had clinched her coming to Florida.

OK, maybe that and swimming for a great program and attending a great university, blah, blah. A quarter century ago Torres was about what she is today; tall, beautiful, charming and talented with a smile that lit up whatever room she was in.

Dara had a superb career swimming for the Gators winning NCAA Titles in three individual and six relay events. She also won nine individual SEC Titles and was the SEC Female Athlete of the Year in 1988.

I had the pleasure of helping Dara break into broadcasting first as a poolside commentator and then as the color commentator on Gator swimming telecasts. Dara wasn't a "natural" at commentary, though the camera loved her. But she worked at it and quickly became very good.

That work ethic never changed. In 2000 Dara won two gold medals, silver and two bronze at the summer Olympics in Sydney. She was an old lady (33) back then and amazed people with her performances against much younger competitors. Now eight years later she will try to add to her personal trophy case by competing in three events in Beijing. Torres won the 50 and 100 free at the US Trials and will also be on the 4 X 100 Relay for the American team. If the 41-year-old mother can medal in all three events she will have won a dozen Olympic Medals in her career.

And just think London is only four years away!

But to me Torres will always be the cute California kid who visited Gainesville in the mid eighties and swam to glory in Orange and Blue as well as Red, White and Blue. She'll have one huge fan in Gainesville because we folks in our forties need to stick together. She's 41 and I'm forty-ten!

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel


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