Image: Dara Torres
TIMOTHY CLARY  /  AFP/Getty Images
Added to the 400 free relay team just hours before the race, Dara Torres' strong final 100 meter push propelled the US to a silver medal Sunday.
updated 8/10/2008 12:19:33 AM ET 2008-08-10T04:19:33

How about a 41-year-old mom winning a medal?

Dara Torres picked up the 10th one of an Olympic career that just won’t end by anchoring the Americans to a second-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay.

She dove in the water too far behind to catch the winning team from the Netherlands, but had no complaints after capping an improbable comeback by climbing the medal stand with three teammates — all in their 20s and probably younger than the old-fashioned goggles Torres was wearing.

The Dutch won the 400 free relay with an Olympic-record time of 3:34.33, beating the old mark of 3:35.94 set four years ago by Australia. The Germans led at the midway point, but Femke Heemskerk and Marleen Veldhuis rallied over the final 200. Inge Dekker and Ranomi Kromowidjojo also swam on the winning team.

Natalie Coughlin, adding to the five medals she won in Athens, took the leadoff leg for the Americans, and was followed by Lacey Nymeyer and Kara Lynn Joyce.

But all eyes were on Torres, the oldest swimmer in U.S. history and an inspiration to middle-agers everywhere with her return to the pool, just two years after having a child.

She swam the second-fastest 100 of anyone, but it wasn’t enough to catch Veldhuis. The Americans were second in 3:34.33, while the Australians took bronze in 3:35.05. Swimming in her record fifth Olympics, Torres picked up her 10th medal — four golds, two silvers and four bronzes.

“Everyone did a great job and we’re really happy with silver because I don’t think we were even expecting that,” said Torres, who climbed from the water with a big smile, waved to the crowd and then joined the rest of the team for a group hug.

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