Passing It On: One woman’s journey from Olympic glory into the hearts and minds of American women

As I write this, the news wires are lighting up with the amazing story of Dara Torres, the 41-year-old swimmer who arrived at the Beijing Olympics as a strong medal contender in not one but two separate swimming events. And after winning silver in the 2008 4×100 meters women’s relay, she became the oldest female Olympic medalist ever and an incredible source of inspiration to active older women across the nation .

This inspiration is a wonderful example of passion, or as I like to break it down, PASS-I-ON. By living according to her purpose and sharing herself with the world, she’s making a huge difference in the lives of millions of women everywhere.

Torres also serves as an excellent example of how passion, once ignited, must be served. Her journey to the 2008 Olympics began when she was pregnant with her daughter Tessa, who is now 2 years old. The four-time Olympian was awaiting the birth of her child by swimming a few times per week and even so, she found herself racing the middle-aged men swimming in the lanes beside her. Her passion for competition and swimming were stronger than ever, and so a week and half after Tessa was born, she began training in earnest for what would be her next Olympics. In the process, she was serving her passion – that inner sense of urgency – with a single-minded intensity.

Having been an elite athlete for more than half her life, Torres had the financial resources to devote to her most recent Olympic ambitions. Her purpose and drive led her to think her strategy through carefully and hire a retinue of massage therapists, professional stretchers and coaches to carve out a physique that’s not only the envy of women half her age, but superior even to the conditioning she possessed 8 years ago.

Torres’s purpose was always to be a world-class swimmer. And using her singular passion and vision, she has continued improving and making big waves even after her equally-talented peers have sunk out of sight. It’s a lesson I take to heart as I examine my own purpose. I ask myself how I can sharpen my focus and improve my game and urge you to use this time when the world’s eyes are on our finest athletes to consider doing the same.

Feel free to leave a comment below on the experiences and inspiration that have moved you to sharpen your own focus.

Bon voyage!

Jim White, PhD
Author & Creator of What’s My Purpose?

Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • bodytext
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Sphinn
  • Google

19 Responses to “Passing It On: One woman’s journey from Olympic glory into the hearts and minds of American women”

  1. Steve Says:

    Great post Jim.

    I really enjoy your stuff.

    I have always seen purpose as someting bigger than what we do.

    My take would be: While Torres passion is swimming, the positive
    impact she has on others by pursuing her passion is her purpose.

    Influecning the lives of others in a postive way seems a bigger
    purpose than swimming.

    Would you agree?

    Thanks for all you do. You’re awesome.

    Steve Little

    PS - Jim, you might enjoy the Free Report I recently published:
    “The Never Before Published Secret First Step….” It’s available
    on my blog

  2. Michele Dart Says:

    that is a great article about dara and so impressed she one a medal
    at her age, it really goes to show how much we really can
    do with our bodies and our minds if we want to
    focus and do it!! Right!

  3. Chris Says:

    Dara Torres is in a fortunate position where she has the time and resources to pursue her passion. But wherever any of us finds ourselves in life, we need to know that we can make a difference. Not all of us have to start large businesses or win Olympic medals. We can make a difference in many ways, large or small. The important thing is to live your passion and practice your gifts. As Winston Churchill said: “What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?”

  4. Dorcy Russell Says:


    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story and uplifting the
    consciousness of the world. I have recently been stepping
    into my purpose which is raising the awareness of Parental
    Alienation and providing tools for young people, who feel
    trapped in their environment,on how to recognize what is
    happening and take control of their lives that feel so out
    of control. everyday that I step into the way without
    knowing what the next step will be and what the outcome will
    be I just trust that as long as I am stepping into my
    purpose the next step is there waiting for me to guide
    me in the right direction. I have learned to let go of
    having to know the end result and just living in the moment
    allowing my burning desire to step into what is next and
    trust that the universe will guide me to where I need to go
    and will provide the tools I need when I need them.
    – that inner sense of urgency – with a single-minded
    intensity. Such a lovely description of how to recognize
    ones purpose. Thank you again…Create a purposeful day
    Dorcy Russell
    Life Coach to young Hollywood
    A Hollywood Life

  5. Nickolove Lovemore Says:

    Hi Jim,

    I too am inspired by Dara Torres’ Olympic comeback:

    Goal Achievement: Why You Never Let Anyone Steal Your Dreams

    In fact, I have been inspired by so many of the
    athletes at the Olympic Games. They have all made
    great sacrifices to be able to compete on this grand
    world stage. Some have also overcome tremendous
    adversities in order to compete.

    Watching the Olympic competitors has encouraged me to
    re-evaluate my current goals and set new, more challenging


  6. DeBorah Says:

    I think all of the athletes who have made it to Beijing, not
    just the ones who the media has favored with their attention,
    are incredibly inspiring. No matter the country, these young
    and some not so young, people are the best of the best humanity
    has to offer. They stand forth as standards by which we should
    measure our own hearts, our own “PASS-I-ONs (I love that, by the
    way) against and take to heart what it takes to truly be champions.

    We all have within us the possibility of greatness. Whether we
    step up and accept that mantle or not doesn’t matter.

    Humanity is magnificent and we should all feel humbled to be
    a part of it.

  7. Zully Says:

    I am motivated and inspired by the Olympians, i notice their
    commitment, their drive, their determination and never give
    spirit. These are qualities that we should all aspire to
    have. I thank their coaches for not giving up on them and
    not allowing them to quit.

    I am now 53 and have always had health and physical issues
    to deal with, from polio to post polio syndrome that
    prevented me from being physically active; until recently
    that I became so determined to get in the water, and just
    two weeks ago I learned to swim and now I have begun to
    trust myself in the deep end of the pool.

  8. sylvia dante Says:

    dear jim, I find you the greater inspiration in your being there consistently for me, even when my elieft in myself is not yet constant or reliable. Yes, I started a week ago to do pool aerobics and ven though I broke out from the pool continued and today I was able to go to the pool without the cane. And for the first time in too long to remember was excited and felt more like doing something rather than return to bed to relleve pain. Only thing was with excitement that also stimulated my appetite. but even then ate what was correct. I am beginning to believe I can create a life again….love sylvia

  9. Jeanne May Says:

    Hi Jim…

    I always look forward to the Olympic Games, not because I’m a sports fanatic (far from it) but because it always showcases the dreams and goals and passions of hundreds of people throughout the world. This in itself is hugely inspiring and motivating!

    The stories of courage, determination and living your destiny which emerge during these few weeks are incredibly moving…


  10. Harry Shade Says:


    This is a wonderful story and just goes to show anyone that their dreams can be accomplished regardless of their age. Ms. Torres is fortunate to be able to inspire so many others from her position as an Olympic athlete but more than that she proves that anyone can and does make a difference and you do not have to be an Olympic athlete to do so.

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

    Author - Rare Sense, One Day It Will Be Common: A Practical Guide to a Fufilled & balanced Life
    Rare Sense Unlimited

  11. Iyabo Asani Says:

    Thanks for this post. It is great! She is definitely an inspiration to all of us. In today’s world, as women face middle age and we discover more of ourselves, it is important that we have role models that show us we are unstoppable and we can do anything that we put our minds to. She is an inspiration to middle age women and everyone out there.

    Iyabo Asani

  12. mary Says:

    I know that God has given us a purpose, Dara is one of the blessed people that realized and connected with her passion. I don’t think that Dara having the money to do all that is necessary to get her self in perfect condition is the main forcus of her journey, but the focus and determination that she had connected with God’s purpose for her life even back then. long before it came to this moment. Nothing is an accident, everything is carefully planned out. That is why it is so important for us to find God’s purpose for our lives. My hat goes out to Dara for following God’s direction for her life. His reward to her is the fame and recognition that she is getting now. You Go Girl!!!!.

  13. Abdul Wahab Says:

    This story brings me back to my earlier days when I was told”What the mind can conceive,the heart believes,it will be achieved

  14. Abimbola Akanwo Says:

    Thank you for highlighting Dara Torres Beijing Olympics
    achievement Jim.

    Update: Dara Torres also won a silver medal in the
    50-metre freestyle swimming this morning (Sunday).
    Congratulation to Torres and America.

    However, I’m always puzzled as to why we write people
    off - the reasons we give, their age, their
    gender, their race, the list is ad infinitum:-)

    All foundless unimaginative rubbish. Life is for living.

    We, mankind (by which I mean women and men) have so much
    potentials, so much inner strenght, so much “magic” in us.

    We just need to pause each day and allow ourselves to dig
    deep into our inner soul (subconcious mind), listen and
    awaken the “magic”.

    It’s there, I promise you.

    Find your inner child. Allow yourself to be YOU. Find your
    inner magic. Live!!!

  15. Luis Santiago Says:

    Jim, thanks for sharing that story with us. We need to
    understand that when when we are on purpose every
    door will open. Thanks for your efforts.

  16. Sue Says:

    In an interview I read online Torres said that before the
    fans that came up to her would be young. Now she has a
    lot of middle-aged men and women who come up and talk to
    her and tell her she’s an inspiration to them. While it
    was great to see her win three silver medals, her wins and
    participation inspired others.

    American folk artist Grandma Moses didn’t start painting
    until she was in her 70’s. Arthritis in her hands forced
    her to abandon embroidery and pick up a new hobby. She is
    said to have painted over 1000 pictures, 25 of them after
    her 100th birthday. (She died at 101.) One of her quotes
    seems appropriate here:
    “Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.”

    We can find inspiration to go after our dream or sharpen our
    focus etc. - we just have to open our eyes and hearts. ;)
    It’s everywhere!

  17. Rick Harrison Says:

    Thanks for highlighting Dara Torres achievement Jim. Over here in Australia we heard about her in the lead-up to the Games and were inspired by Dara’s unwillingness to stay in the “box” - to really go for it - really have a go at having it all and listening to her heart instead of the reasons why not. Dara -you’re a reminder to all of us to live our dreams. Good on you Dara!

  18. Suvid Says:

    Thank you for pointing out the significance of this achievement. Way too many of us look outside of us at the world and believe what we see in the world is also true for us. People like Dara Torres are true champions in showing us that it isnt what we see out there, but what we see in our minds and feel with our hearts that help us attain goals that is hitherto considered impossible. Thank you, Jim. Thank you, Dara!!!

  19. Mar Says:

    Fantastic! I love the story, it’s very inspiring!


Leave a Reply