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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.

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 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 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+.