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Silver Anniversary for American Swimmer Dara Torres

At age 41, American swimmer Dara Torres has won her third silver medal at the Beijing Olympics. VOA's Jim Stevenson has more on the oldest member of this year's U.S. Olympic swimming team.

Torres earned a silver medal in the women's 50-meter freestyle Sunday. Her personal best time of 24.07 seconds fell short of German Britta Steffen by the smallest margin in the sport.

"It was tough to lose a 50 [meter race] by a hundredth of a second. And I realize maybe I should not have filed my nails last night," said Torres. "But what are you going to do. It was my best time ever. And as competitive as I am and I want to win, I am very happy that I got the silver."

Torres was back in the pool a short time later in the 4X100- meter medley relay, in which the United States placed second to Australia. Earlier last week, she had won another silver in the 100-meter team relay final.

Torres first swam at the Olympics in 1984. Current teammate Natalie Coughlin, who is 26-years-old, says Torres has proven that age is not necessarily a factor in the pool.

"Yes, women can have children and still compete at a high level. She has gotten rid of a lot of the mythology in swimming that has been there for so, so long," said Coughlin.

Torres hopes her performance in her fifth Olympics will be inspirational.

"If it helps anyone else out there who is in their middle aged years, [who] maybe put off something they thought they could not do because they were too old. Or maybe thought because they have children that they can not balance what they want to do and being a parent," she said. "If that can help anyone out there to show what I have done and that you can do it, then I am absolutely thrilled."

Dara Torres retired from swimming after the 2000 Sydney games and had a daughter in 2006. But she was drawn back to the pool again for one more Olympic bid. Her three silver medals in Beijing bring her overall career total to 12. For now, Torres plans to return home and resume being a full-time mother.