Even while cooling off in the pool, Dara Torres looks smokin' on the cover of More magazine. In the April issue, one of my favorite Olympians talks about her new memoir, fittingly titled Age Is Just a Number, as well as body image issues and performance-enhancing drugs. Meanwhile, her career is going swimmingly: She's training for the world championships in Rome this Summer. Here's what she had to say:
On what happens if she doesn't train:
"I'm not the type to ever want to find that out. If I was not swimming, I'd probably work out a few hours a day, do aerobics, weights, play tennis. It's not just the way it makes me look; it makes me feel good inside."
On being suspected of taking performance-enhancing drugs:
"It’s the most hurtful thing. I was angry when journalists would ask to interview me and do stories that were drug-related, saying, 'I wanted to believe Dara.' I have a daughter who is one day going to read all this stuff. I’ve done everything I possibly can to prove that I was clean. I went to the head of the United states anti-doping agency and asked to be tested any way they wanted. They keep the samples for years. How can anyone in their right mind who is cheating decide to go through all that?"
To read what Dara had to say about struggling with food and staying in shape,
On her struggles with food:
"I had an eating disorder in college, and I went for years restricting myself from specific foods, looking at labels. . . . It was a real dark thing in my life. I don't think I would have had it if I wasn't an athlete. I finally went to a doctor, who asked, 'Do you make yourself throw up?' And I said, 'No,' and then I felt horrible that I'd lied to her. I marched back in and told her the truth. She sent me to a psychiatrist. I threw up less, but it went on. When I decided to try for the 1992 Olympics, I knew I didn’t want to have this problem, so I stopped cold turkey."
On her body acceptance:
"I have no chest; when I go to Victoria's Secret, I have to ask if they have training bras."
On her 42-year-old physique:
"I'm in the best shape of my life. I can't do what I did when I was 20, as far as training, yet I can swim faster. When I'm standing on the blocks, I don't think, oh, I'm 42 and these girls are 15 or 16 years old. I feel like an athlete; I'm one of them, and I'm going to compete against my competitors."
I'm always glad to hear people who've struggled with eating disorders express such self-acceptance and self-confidence. Are you surprised by her comments?