Torres sets record, now focused on medal

The Baltimore Sun

OMAHA, Neb. -- Dara Torres already knew she was going to the Olympics.

That's not good enough anymore.

Torres, 41, won the 50-meter freestyle last night with another American record, giving her the chance to swim two individual events in Beijing.

She has already done what no one thought possible, returning from her second retirement - and just two years removed from having a child - to reclaim her place as America's most dominant female sprinter. She will be the oldest American ever to swim at the Olympics, but she wants so much more.

"I can't sit here and lie and say, 'Oh, I'm just glad I'm going,' " said Torres, who'll be in her fifth Olympics. "I want a medal."

Having already won the 100 free Friday, Torres got off to the third-slowest start in the most frenetic lap in swimming. But she was in control midway through, touching in 24.25 seconds to eclipse the mark of 24.38 she set in the semifinals.

Jessica Hardy claimed the second Olympic spot in 24.82, beating Lara Jackson by .06 of a second. Torres has raised the possibility of dropping the 100, worried her still-buff body can't take the grind of two individual events, especially when she likely will swim two relays, too.

"I'm hoping to go somewhat fast because they have girls in the world that are going 24.1 and 23.9, and I have five more weeks to try to drop a couple tenths to hopefully be in competition with those girls," Torres said. "I'm very happy with my time, but I know I have more work to do."

In the final race of the eight-day meet, Peter Vanderkaay upset U.S.-record holder Larsen Jensen and top qualifier Erik Vendt in the 1,500 free.

Vanderkaay overtook Jensen and held on to win in 14 minutes, 45.54 seconds, just off Jensen's national mark of 14:45.29.

Jensen still took the second spot for the Olympics in 14:50.80, while Vendt struggled to the wall in fourth at 15:07.78, also trailing Chad La Tourette.

Out of the pool

Emily Silver -- The first-time Olympian, 22, needs surgery after breaking her right hand when she swam into the wall at the finish of the 50-meter freestyle during the U.S. trials. Silver, from Bainbridge Island, Wash., was hurt in Saturday night's semifinals. Silver finished 12th and didn't advance to last night's final. She had already earned a spot on the team in the 400 freestyle relay by finishing fifth in the 100 free. She will likely have surgery today. If Silver can't recover in time for the Olympics, 2004 Olympian Kara Lynn Joyce would replace her on the roster as the seventh-place finisher in the 100 free.

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