“Don’t think being at the bottom of the totem pole is a bad thing. . . . You have nowhere to go but up.”

DARA TORRES is arguably the fastest female swimmer in America. She entered her first international swimming competition at age 14 and competed in her first Olympic Games a few years later, in 1984. At Beijing in 2008, Dara became the oldest swimmer to compete in the Olympic Games at age 41. She took home three silver medals—including one for the infamous 50-meter freestyle race where she missed the gold by 1/100th of a second. Dara has competed in five Olympic Games and has won 12 medals in her Olympic career. She was the first female athlete to be featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and in 2009, she won the ESPY award for “Best Comeback.” Dara was also named one of the “Top Female Athletes of the Decade” by Sports Illustrated magazine. She is the author of Age Is Just a Number: Achieve Your Dreams at Any Stage in Your Life.

What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?

Many people have started from the bottom and have worked their way up, so don’t think being at the bottom of the totem pole is a bad thing in the work world. You have nowhere to go but up. Ignore hearsay and rumors until you know it as fact.

What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)?
Crepe Erase body products for my sun-damaged skin.

What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

Eating raw Top Ramen when I’ve had an upset stomach.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

I either get on a spin bike, swim, box, or do barre method to get the stress out and get more focused.

If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say and why? Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” —often attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt

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