Dara Torres The legendary Olympic swimmer wants more kids to jump into the pool

What are you up to these days?
After the 2012 Olympic trials, I retired from competitive swimming. At age 45, I missed making the team by 9/100 of a second. Since then, I’ve been busy doing motivational talks; I’ve been doing great stuff with my sponsors. And I can spend more time with my daughter, who is eight.  I’m also newly married and have two new step-kids, so life is good

You were a pioneer in using stretching and other techniques to help lengthen your career. Was there a seminal moment when you decided to change your training philosophy?
I had to. I couldn’t just bounce off the walls like I used to when I was younger. I knew if I was going to compete with the kids, I was going to have to change the way I prepared.

Even at age 45, you were competing at such a high level. What motivated you to retire from the sport?
My age. I couldn’t swim the number of times I needed to perform. When you do an event, you have to swim it three times. If I only had to do it once, I would be good to go. It was time. It became exhausting, and I didn’t have anything else to give the sport. I can be home more for my family.

Are you still connected to swimming in any way?
I’m working on a program with USA Swimming called SwimToday. The biggest problem with swimming as a youth sport is that it’s never the first choice for parents and kids when choosing a sport. It’s a great sport that requires hard work, dedication, sacrifice and it really is more of a team sport than people think. We want to get more kids thinking about swimming before they think about other sports.

What is it like being a swim mom?
It’s different. (laughs) It’s hard not going over to the coaches when I see my daughter making mistakes. The other night, she was working on starts, and at that age, they don’t really push off; they just kind of fall in and start flapping. I was like, “You have to be like a pencil! Your body has to be straight.” And it helps, but you know what, you’ve got to let the coaches coach.