Evergreen Torres safely into semis
Dara Torres launched her bid to make a sixth Olympic team Sunday with the fifth-quickest time in the 50m freestyle heats at the US swimming trials.
The 45-year-old veteran, whose three silver medals in Beijing included the 50m free, clocked 25.00sec in the heats topped by 100m freestyle winner Jessica Hardy in 24.55.
Torres is already the oldest woman swimmer to compete in the Games. She was 41 when she raced in Beijing, where she capped a comeback to major competition with a fifth Games appearance eight years after her fourth.
Since then, Torres has undergone reconstructive surgery on her left knee in October of 2009.
She also coped with the death of German-born coach Michael Lohberg, credited by Torres with helping her reach the 2008 Games. Lohberg was diagnosed with aplastic anemia shortly before the Beijing Olympics and died in April of 2011.
"This is the first time I've ever come to trials and had no idea how I'm going to do," Torres said, adding that it was "a lot tougher this time".
"When I was 41 people said I was middle-aged, but now I'm really, really middle-aged."
Maybe so, but Hardy said Torres was still a formidable opponent.
"It's really fun to race her. She brings out a level of excitement," Hardy said. "She's an inspiration. She's in better shape physically than all of us."
The penultimate day of racing at the eight-day selection meet again saw 14-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps slated for action, in the evening's 100m butterfly final.
Ryan Lochte was also in the 100m fly, but the would have to pull off a major upset in the unfamiliar event to claim one of the top two places needed to book a London Games berth.
Lochte and Phelps have already produced three memorable duels this week, offering a tantalizing look at what's in store for London.
Lochte came out on top in the 400m medley, but was edged by Phelps in the 200m medley and 200m freestyle.
Both are slated to swim at least four individual events in London, although world record-holder Phelps was expected to make it five with the addition of the 100m fly on Sunday night.
Phelps, who swore he would never again attempt eight events at one Games after his glittering eight-gold campaign in Beijing, said he'd been slow to realize this season that he was, in fact, building toward exactly the same schedule he raced four years ago.
"I actually thought I would never try it again," said Phelps, adding that the realization struck him as he spoke to coach Bob Bowman about his event programme weeks before the trials.
"I was like 'wait a minute ... essentially it's going to be eight again,'" Phelps said. "And he was like, 'Yeah, you didn't think about that?'"