Dara Torres had the longest successful career of any Olympic swimmer, one which saw her win 12 Olympic medals and four gold medals. Torres began her career in 1984, winning a gold medal in the 4×100 freestyle relay. She added a silver and bronze in relays in 1988, and seemingly ended her swimming career with another gold in the 4×100 free relay in 1992. Tall and strikingly attractive, Torres then began a career as a model, becoming the first athlete to appear in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue. She also achieved notice as a commercial spokeswoman on an infomercial for a fitness training method. But in late 1998, she elected to return to competitive swimming. With little time to prepare, she returned to the Olympic pool at Sydney, and won five medals, including two golds in relays. She won three individual bronze medals at Sydney – in the 50 free, the 100 free, and the 100 fly.
Again retiring after the 2000 Olympics, Torres did not compete in Athina. But in 2006 she began training to make another Olympic team and made the US team for Beijing, winning the Olympic Trials in both the 50 and 100 metre freestyle. But she elected to compete in Beijing only in the 50 and the 4×100 freestyle and medley relays. Aged 41, the oldest ever female Olympic swimmer, Torres won a silver medal in the 50 free, defeated by only 1/100th of a second. She added silver medals in both relays. Torres finished her Olympic career lacking only an individual gold medal. She swam through 2012, but just missed out making the US Olympic team for the London Olympics. Torres won four Olympic medals of each color, one of only three Olympians to have won four or more medals of each type (Takashi Ono of Japan, and Larisa Latynina in gymnastics are the others).
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