Torres sets another U.S. record, wins 50 free

Monday, July 7, 2008

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

That's not good enough anymore.

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

She's 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'll 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 again took 2-year-old Tessa to the awards stand before heading off to 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 the previous night in the semifinals.

Jessica Hardy claimed the second Olympic spot in 24.82, beating Lara Jackson by six-hundredths of a second. Torres has raised the possibility of dropping the 100, worried her body can't take the grind of two individual events, especially when she's 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. 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 pulled off a major upset by beating U.S. record holder Larsen Jensen and top qualifier Erik Vendt in the 1,500 freestyle.

Jensen set the early pace in swimming's version of the mile, but he began to tire about two-thirds of the way into the grueling race.

Vendt apparently wore himself out by swimming the preliminaries Saturday in 14:50.24 -- more than 12 seconds faster than anyone else.

Steffan Troxel, a Jackson High graduate, had finished 46th among 74 competitors in the event prelims Saturday.

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