By Mike Watkins//Contributor | Thursday, February 1, 2018
As a child, Dara Torres was hyperactive and into everything.
It’s one of the reasons her mom got her into swimming – hoping she would return home from a couple hours of activity exhausted and subdued.
Most days, it didn’t happen.
“I was never diagnosed with it, but I’m sure I was ADD as a child,” said Torres, who calls Massachusetts home but is moving her and daughter, Tessa, to the Coral Springs, Fla., area this summer to be back in warm weather. “I was one of those kids who always had to be doing something. I never stopped. If anything, swim practice energized me even more.”
Fortunately, being a body in constant motion served her well in the pool and continues to motivate her in her numerous entrepreneurial pursuits today – all with their core in healthy living and fitness, overcoming life’s obstacles and operating with a championship mentality.
Along with her numerous speaking engagements – traveling nationally and internationally for various corporate and private speeches and appearances before groups as large as 10,000 and as small as 12 – Torres is half-owner of a Bar Method franchise and is also working with a developer to create a health supplement line called AIJAN (named for her book Age is Just a Number) for active adults.
Suffice it to say adult Dara – who will celebrate 51 in a couple of months – is still as active as younger Dara ever was but with different interests, priorities and perspectives.
“Despite my earlier ADD mention, I’ve always been a very focused person with things to do on the road as well as at home,” she said. “It keeps me really busy and motivated, which I thrive on.
I honestly never thought about being a business owner, but I’m really excited about the possibilities that lie before me. I have a lot going on.”
Her biggest priority – as it has been since 2006 – is daughter, Tessa, last seen by many in mother’s arms after Torres made the U.S. Olympic Team in 2008 at age 41. She went on to win a silver medal and set a new American record in the 50 freestyle in Beijing.
Tessa, now 11, is active like her mom. She plays field hockey and a few other sports, and swims for her local club a few days a week. She attends private school in Massachusetts, enjoys making slime, likes math and science classes and hangs out with her friends.
“She’s so active – and she’s good at being 11; she’s almost a teenager, which is hard to believe,” Torres said. “I’m often amazed at how quickly she’s grown up and continues to grow up. I’m so proud of her – but I never pushed her into swimming. I want her to find her own interests and excel at what she loves.”
Following Torres’ Olympic performance in China, she returned four years later for a shot at her sixth Olympic Games (her first was in 1984) but came up just short with a fourth-place finish in the 50 free.
She said as soon as she left the pool that evening, she knew she was finished with competitive swimming.
And because of her personal and business endeavors during her competitive career, the transition to a life after swimming was easy for her – something she said other highly competitive athletes often struggle with.
But then again, Torres had retired and come back before, herself, so she understood both sides very well.
“Surprisingly, when I knew I was done (in 2012) I was more concerned about how that impacted the important people in my life – namely my mom and Tessa,” Torres said. “After my last race, I looked into the stands and saw my mom crying, and it affected me because I already accepted that this was it but she hadn’t.
“It can be a real culture shock for athletes because our identities are strongly tied to our sport, and when we leave, we’re not really sure who we are now. But I always knew what I wanted next.”
Now that she’s part-owner of the Bar Method, Torres said she’s had to pass two tests with two more to take and a few other hoops to jump through to become a certified instructor, something owners are expected to also be.
And with her background in fitness and activity, she’s more excited than ever for her latest endeavor to start.
“It’s just a great overall body workout,” she said of the Bar Method. “When I first learned about it (from the father of one of her daughter’s friends) and saw that there was a ballet element to it (using the ballet bar for support and balance) I thought no way that’s for me. I’m a jock – I’m not a ballet dancer. But it’s so much more than that.
“I’ve had knee issues for years – even having surgery – so I can’t run like I used to, and I loved running. But this is a great way to get in a good workout without the stress on your body. It works every muscle you use for running but without the impact, and it’s something you can do at any age and any stage of life – even during pregnancy. It truly challenges you by using your body weight – and you can do it at your own pace.”