Work Out Like: Olympic Swimmer Dara Torres

Torres is training for a local charity boxing event.

Dara Torres

Photo via AP/David J. Phillip

Dara Torres competed in five Olympic Games, winning 12 medals in all. She has taken on the World Championships and the U.S. Nationals. But a local charity boxing event has the legendary swimmer terrified.

“I had no idea what I was getting myself into,” she laughs. “I’m really excited about it and really pumped to raise money, but I’m scared to death.”

On October 5, Torres, who now lives in Dover, is competing in Haymakers for Hope‘s Belles of the Brawl, an annual event that raises money for cancer research. She’s aiming to raise $20,000 herself, and has collected $14,000 so far.

While she’s steadfast in her philanthropic mission, Torres freely admits that training hasn’t been easy. Here, the former Olympian tells us how she’s getting ring ready.


Torres has a bad knee, which makes fast footwork and dodges difficult. She says she’s relied on jump roping to get herself in fighting condition. “I started jump roping, which I hadn’t done since college,” she says. “Even though I could swim for an hour or two hours, I couldn’t jump rope for about 30 seconds straight.” (She assures us she’s come a long way since she started.)

She’s also upped her cardio workload, adding more swimming and Spinning. Three to four days per week, she takes a class at the Bar Method to build leg and core strength. And as the match looms nearer, Torres says she’s added more heavy bag training and sparring to her routine.

“I don’t like getting hit,” she laughs. “The first couple months of sparring, I would kind of just turn my body away so I wouldn’t get hit. Only about two or three weeks ago did I get used to putting my hands up and protecting my face.”


Torres is actually working to gain weight ahead of her match, which she says is difficult in the midst of an active training schedule. On an average day, she says, she’ll have Raisin Bran with blueberries and milk for breakfast; a protein bar mid-morning; a hearty lunch—on the day we spoke it was a bun-less burger topped with a fried egg and served with salad and fries—to keep energy up; a weight gain shake in the afternoon; and chicken with rice, potatoes, and vegetables for dinner. Each night tops off with a “block” of dark chocolate covered in peanut butter.


In addition to her training, Torres is a motivational speaker and a correspondent on CBS’ all-female sports talk show, We Need to TalkHer job at CBS, it turns out, has been a boon to her Haymakers training.

“[Fellow correspondent Laila Ali] is on me. She’s like, ‘You’ve got to send me sparring videos so I can give you some tips,'” Torres says. “It’s nice to have her in your corner.”

Whether Ali’s tips do the trick or not, Torres says she’s honored to compete. “I just want to keep my own and go out there and try to have fun and not be as scared as I am right now,” she says.

Tickets start at $75. Belles of the Brawl, 10/5, 6:30 p.m. House of Blues, 15 Landsdowne St., Boston. For more information, ticket sales, and donations, visit

Dara Torres

Torres practices sparring/photo provided