Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008

Dara Torres

Dara Torres didn't win any gold medals in Beijing, but she did win three silvers — and, more important, she changed the way people think about human bodies older than 40. A 41-year-old mother who had retired from swimming in 2000, she qualified for Beijing with a time faster than she swam at the Olympic Games in Seoul — in 1988. And she did it without the use of illegal drugs, according to multiple tests, some mandatory but many voluntary. Instead she used resistance-stretching regimens, an amino-acid supplement to help her body recover, and a great deal of heart. "So many middle-aged women look up to me," she told TIME this year. "I want them to feel proud, like they can do what they set out to do." All of us should feel proud for Torres.

John Cloud