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 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 is heading 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 second 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 to 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.
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.
Everyone expected Vendt to challenge, but he apparently wore himself out by swimming the preliminaries Saturday in 14:50.24 — more than 12 seconds faster than anyone else.
Instead, it was Vanderkaay who overtook Jensen and held on to win in 14 minutes, 45.54 seconds, just off Jensen's national mark of 14:45.29.
”This wasn't the event I train for primarily, but I'll take it,“ Vanderkaay said.
Jensen took second in 14:50.80, while Vendt struggled to the wall in fourth at 15:07.78, also trailing Chad La Tourette.
”My effort was there, it's just that extra something wasn't,“ said Vendt, a silver medalist in the 400 individual medley at the last two Olympics and long one of America's top distance swimmers. ”I was expecting something really good, I felt great in warmup. For some reason I couldn't get going or couldn't hold pace. I was kind of surprised.“
Vanderkaay, who trains in Michigan with Michael Phelps, added to his busy Olympic schedule, which will include the 200 and 400 free as well as the 800 free relay. Vendt, also a training partner, will have to be content with a possible relay spot in Beijing.
”I'm just thankful I'm on that team,“ Vendt said, ”because if I had to end my career on that, I'd be pretty (ticked) off.“
Olympian needs surgery
First-time Olympian Emily Silver needs surgery after breaking her right hand when she ran into the wall at the finish of the 50-meter freestyle during the U.S. trials.
The 22-year-old from Bainbridge Island, Wash., was hurt in Saturday night's semifinals, but the injury wasn't revealed until Sunday by Mark Schubert, head coach and general manager of the U.S. team.
”She was really scared right away,“ he said. ”She got out and said, "I think I broke my hand again.' “
Silver, who swims at the University of California, has twice broken the same hand — once in practice and once in another meet.
Silver finished 12th and didn't advance to Sunday 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 probably will have surgery Monday and could be out of the water for up to 10 days, Schubert said.
”I'm confident she'll be able to compete in Beijing and do well,“ he said.
If Silver is unable to recover in time, 2004 Olympian Kara Lynn Joyce would replace her on the roster as the seventh-place finisher in the 100 free.