Mama Mia – Torres takes on fifth Olympics at 41

LOS ANGELES, July 22, 2008 (AFP) – In a sport littered with precocious prodigies, 41-year-old swimming mum Dara Torres shatters the mould. Torres was a talented teen herself when she won her first Olympic swimming gold in Los Angeles in 1984.

Now she’ll tackle her fifth Games campaign in Beijing alongside teammates and rivals young enough to be her children.

US superstar Michael Phelps, 23, calls Torres his “sort-of mom.”

Torres, whose daughter Tessa was born in 2006, says she prefers to think of herself as a “big sister” or maybe “aunt” to her teammates.

“It’s nice to be able to be there for the kids if they have questions,” Torres says. “They probably feel comfortable talking to me. I feel like I’m on their level on one hand, but I have all this experience on the other hand that I’m maybe not on their level.

“I’ll take that as a compliment that Phelps refers to me as the mom, but I don’t know if the kids think that.”

Torres owns nine Olympic medals, starting with that first relay gold in ’84.

Her five medals in 2000 capped a comeback from a seven-year retirement.

When she launched her latest retur