"There are a lot of athletes who will take it," says Torres. "It definitely helps you to conk out"

By People Staff
May 27, 2012 05:00 PM
Marion Curtis/Startraks

Olympic swimmer Dara Torres has no trouble focusing in the moments before a big race, but the athlete admits she’s turned to medication to help her get a good night’s sleep.

Asked how she gets shut-eye before an important competition, she tells Health: “It’s called Ambien,” referring to the prescription drug used to treat insomnia.

“There are a lot of athletes who will take it if they need to fall asleep before they compete – because you’re thinking about your race and you’re tossing and turning,” she says.

Torres, who at age 45 will be the oldest female Olympic swimmer ever if she competes in the summer games in London this year, says she doesn’t get groggy the next morning.

“I feel pretty good,” she tells the magazine. “It’s not like I’m doing it all the time, but it definitely helps you to conk out.”

As for her age, Torres, says she doesn’t have a problem with people bringing it up. “To me, it’s an honor [to be the oldest swimmer],” she says. “People say, ‘You must get sick of everyone talking about your age,’ but it really doesn’t bother me.”

Still, she admits, she does feel her years more and more.

“I mean, I definitely have aches and pains that most middle-aged people have,” she says.

But Torres isn’t bothered by younger competitors. “Not many things psych me out!” she says with a laugh. “I just try to have fun.”

She even brings that carefree attitude right up onto the block for each race.

“I always feel sick to my stomach before I swim,” she admits. “But the minute I’m on the block, everything is calm and I’m ready to go. The way I look at it is, ‘I’ve done everything I can at this point, I should just enjoy it.’ ”