The 43-year-old athlete is returning after a 16 month recovery period, in which she has been recuperating from an extensive knee surgery. She swam an impressive 29.9 second 50-meter freestyle, qualifying her to move on to next year’s U.S. Olympic Trials at the Missouri Grand Prix.
Torres, 43, has not raced competitively since the 2009 world championships and only recently resumed water training following a reconstructive procedure that involved transplanting cartilage to her left kneecap.
Her comeback has been complicated by her 60-year-old coach Michael Lohberg's battle with a rare, life-threatening blood disorder. He remains hospitalized in Florida after a recent heart attack and is listed in intensive care.
"It's been such an emotional roller coaster ride," Torres said. "You don't realize how much emotions can drain you physically until you go through something like that."
Torres owns four Olympic gold medals, earning her first in the 1984 Games — well before most of her current teammates and competitors were born. She earned three silver medals at the Beijing Games in 2008 after twice retiring from competitive swimming.
The 2012 Games, should she qualify, will truly be her last hurrah, Torres said.
"I don't want to be that athlete who's at the top of their game and goes down real quick," she said.
When it was pointed out that Torres had previously called the 2008 Olympics her last, she quickly dispelled any doubts that 2012 will be her last Games.
"You can quote me. There is no more (after 2012). I'm done," she said. "If you ever see me in a pool again,