Torres Wins Silver in 50 Freestyle
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
BEIJING — Dara Torres was denied an improbable gold medal Sunday morning by one-hundredth of a second — the same margin that kept Michael Phelps on course to break Mark Spitz’s record.
The 41-year-old Torres, a five-time Olympian and the oldest American swimmer ever, settled for a silver when Germany’s Britta Steffen nipped her at the wall in the 50-meter freestyle to complete a sweep of the women’s sprint events in Beijing.
Torres smiled, her head dropping back, when she saw a time of 24.07 seconds — just behind Steffen’s winning effort of 24.06. The German added to her gold in the 100 free.
Still, Torres’ second-place finish was a remarkable showing considering she had retired a second time after the 2000 Sydney Games, then got the urge to compete again after having her first child two years ago. Not content swimming in the old-timers division, she set out to prove that age is only a number.
Consider that point made.
Torres got off to a good start and appeared to be leading midway through the race, a frenetic sprint from one end of the pool to the other.
As the came to the wall, Torres and Steffen were stroke for stroke. The German reached out with her left hand and Torres stretched with her right. Steffen’s fingertip got there first.
Completing a race for all ages, 16-year-old Australian Cate Campbell claimed the bronze in 24.17.
It was the final day of swimming at the Water Cube, but Torres’ day wasn’t done. She was scheduled to anchor the Americans in the 400 medley relay, going for the 12th — and surely last — medal of her career.
Then again, never count this woman out. She’ll only be 45 for the London Games.
The last race in Beijing was the men’s medley relay, with Phelps going for his record eight gold medal of the games in an event the Americans have never lost at the Olympics.