I swim for … my daughter Tessa. She motivates me because I want her to be proud of me when she gets older, and I’d like her to know that you don’t have to put an age limit on your dreams.
Tessa makes me laugh when … we leave the pool. She’s addicted to the water. She cries and I think, “I created a monster”; she’s a mini-me.
My struggle with bulimia began … when I was in college. I did it trying to make weight. Instead of bingeing, it was more like purging what normal people ate. I did it after meals—in private, in the dorm bathroom, three or four times a week. It took five years to get over it. I had it when I swam in the ’88 games and I had no energy. I was ranked No. 1 in the world in the 100 free and I came in seventh. When I decided to train for ’92, I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it if I were bulimic. I was going to a psychiatrist for it, but I stopped cold turkey and was able to get over it.
I attribute my high pain threshold to … I don’t think I have a high threshold for pain—I was the biggest wimp in the world when I was having a kid. But if I know the work will help my body, like when my stretchers stand on my quads and mash them, I take it when others would be jumping out of their skin.
My answer to critics who say I’m using performance-enhancing drugs … I knew this would be coming, so I took a proactive approach. I volunteered to enter a trial doping program administered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and I asked if I could be an open book to prove I’m clean. I have done 13 blood tests since March. Why would I volunteer if I were cheating?
When one of my four brothers calls to wish my mother happy birthday first … It bothers me a little. I’m competitive and I hate to lose. I always want to be first. I say, “Mom, am I the first one to call?”
Training for the Olympics with teenagers … is fun. It’s cute to see these kids; they’re young enough to be my kids.
I feel my age when … I walk into practice and have no idea what song is playing on the iPod machine. The kids are all singing and dancing to hip hop on the pool deck, and I want to put on my classic rock.
Tessa’s dad, my partner of four years David Hoffman [a reproductive endocrinologist who lives with Torres in Parkland, Fla.], helps by … watching Tessa when I compete. When he takes care of her at the pool, I don’t have to stress out about her; she’s 2 and runs all over the place.
After the Olympics … He definitely will be glad when it’s over.