BEIJING (AFP) — Dara Torres set the standard for longevity in Olympic swimming on Sunday as she anchored the US team that won silver in the women's 4x100 metres freestyle relay.
Torres, already the oldest Olympic female swimming medallist in history thanks to her five-medal performance in 2000, became the oldest swimming medallist of either gender - overtaking the mark of Britain's William Robinson, who was 38 when he earned silver in the 200m breaststroke in 1908.
Torres's 10th Olympic medal came at the age of 41, and 24 years after she claimed medley relay gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
Most of the swimmers who lined up in the relay final weren't born when Torres made her Olympic debut.
Cate Campbell, the lead-off swimmer for bronze medallists Australia, is just 16.
"I think I might be older than her parents," said Torres, whose own daughter, Tessa, is two.
"When we are in the water, it doesn't matter, because the water doesn't really know how old you are when you hit the water," added Torres, whose team were beaten into second place by the Netherlands
"I love water."
Torres said the second comeback of her career - the first culminated with a five-medal haul at the Sydney Olympics - had given her a new set of fans.
"There are a lot of middle-aged women and men, who have contacted me or stopped me in the street, and they have told me that I am an inspiration to them," she said.
"They tell me they are doing things now they never thought they would do.
"I am hoping my age clears the way for other athletes to continue what they are doing in their sport."
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