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Olympian Dara Torres: 'I leave and go to dinner' during daughter's swim practice

After winning 12 Olympic medals, Dara Torres is a swim mom herself. Here's why she doesn't stick around for her daughter's swim practices.
/ Source: TODAY

Olympian Dara Torres’ 9-year-old daughter Tessa loves swimming — and her mom swears it’s not a genetic thing. Instead, it’s a fun thing.

“She really, really likes it,” Torres told TODAY Parents. “She’s tried tennis, soccer, dance — but she’s really stuck with swimming. She just enjoys it!”

That’s right: Torres, 48, who has competed in five Olympic Games and won 12 Olympic medals, is now a swim mom herself. She dutifully takes Tessa to swim practice near their Massachusetts home twice a week — and then she quickly disappears.

Dara Torres with daughter Tessa
It may come as no surprise that of the many sports Olympian Dara Torres' now-9-year-old daughter has tried — from soccer to tennis to swimming — she loves swimming the best.Joshua Lott / Reuters

“I leave and go to dinner!” Torres said with a laugh. “It keeps me from getting too involved or looking at coach and thinking, ‘Wait a minute ...’ I think it’s important to let the kids enjoy their time and let the coaches coach.”

Here are some additional insights Torres shared about life as swim mom:

Swimming is a team sport

“So many parents enroll their children in swimming lessons but never really think about swimming as a team sport. It is, though! Being a part of a swim team is one of the most fun and most rewarding experiences a child can have. You’re cheering your teammates on and helping each other. It’s so much fun. My daughter’s always smiling after she goes swimming.”

Related: Kids hate sunscreen, cold water? Olympian Dara Torres helps with 5 common pool problems

Dara Torres
Dara Torres credits her mom for a lot of sacrifice while Torres became a champion swimmer.Christinne Muschi / Reuters

Swimming has no benchwarmers (or benches)

“I like it that everyone gets to participate on a swim team. No one is left out.”

Unlike other team sports, swimming can last a lifetime

“Once kids learn how to swim, it’s something they can keep doing all their lives. There are not a lot of injuries in swimming. It’s very easy on your joints.”

Dara Torres with daughter Tessa
Dara Torres holds her daughter, Tessa, on the medal stand after winning the women's 50-meter freestyle final on July 9, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

Parents don’t need to get too stressed

“My mom was very laid-back (as a swim mom). She took me to every swim meet, but she never questioned anything. She never watched my practices. I don’t know if she knew my times! But she was always there at every meet.”

Kids love and cherish their swim moms (and dads)!

“I was swimming in international when I was 14, so I had to go to other places at that point, and my mom and coach would come too. I think my mom saw how much I loved it and really wanted me to stay in it because I loved it so much. She sacrificed so much. That’s why I gave her one of my gold medals.”

Dara Torres lives in Dover, Massachusetts, and is a spokeswoman for SwimToday, which connects parents and kids with swim teams near them.

Follow writer Laura T. Coffey on Twitter @ltcoff and Google+.