These days, Dara Torres’ swimsuits are hung up to dry for good. The 12-time Olympic medalist was glad she wasn’t competing in this summer’s Rio Olympics; reporting poolside for Westwood One Radio was hard enough.
“I was more like the mom crying, like seeing Michael Phelps kiss his mom,” Torres told Elite Sports NY. “Seeing Simone Manuel win that gold medal for the U.S. and becoming the first African-American woman to do that.
“I can’t call races anymore, I’m too sappy.”
Torres, who now triples as a TV host, best-selling author and mother, last tried out for Team USA in 2012 where she fell 9/100 of a second short of making the squad.
Now nearing 50 years of age, the four-time gold medalist wears a different suit — one she’s worn underneath her Olympic colors for decades.
“What people don’t realize is, they look at me as an Olympic swimmer or a TV host or a mom,” Torres said. “But I’m actually one of seven-and-a-half million Americans who have psoriasis.”
Torres first encountered the skin condition while training for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. She noticed red, flaky patches on her elbows and back but ignored the symptoms.
After a month, the itching persisted. Torres saw her dermatologist who diagnosed her with psoriasis.
“Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disorder. It happens because there are faulty immune signals in the body,” Dallas-based dermatologist Dr. Jennifer Cather told Elite Sports NY. “And what that translates into is you can see lesions on the skin.”
Dr. Cather said those lesions appear as red, sometimes elevated patches usually covered with a “silvery scale.” Those patches occur in areas of high trauma, like the elbows, knees, buttocks and scalp.
Torres realized her symptoms were stress-related. Her psoriasis would flare up while preparing for big swim meets.
“One thing I realized really quickly is my work is the pool,” Torres said. “So my business suit is a swimsuit when I go to the pool. So I’m exposed. Everyone’s going to see it.”
Torres was a little bit embarrassed when she first discovered she had psoriasis. But she understood the value of educating herself and being comfortable in her own skin.
Now, along with Otezla® and Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG),Torres is spearheading the Show More of You campaign designed to raise awareness of the condition. She wants everyone to be as comfortable in their skin as she’s become.
“I’ve uploaded a picture of myself and wrote an inspirational message,” Torres said. “Others have done so, too. We want people who have psoriasis to go on this website, upload their pictures, upload their inspirational messages.
“And even if you don’t have psoriasis, join in on the movement. It’s just a wonderful campaign to show more of you.”
Visit the Show More of You website here to learn more about psoriasis and the movement.