Olympic swimmer Torres ’85 to speak at Women’s History assembly next month

Marcella Park

Five-time Olympic swimmer and Westlake alumna Dara Torres ’85 will speak at the school’s annual Women’s History Month Assembly on March 18.

Gender Studies teacher Malina Mamigonian, who is organizing the event, got in touch with Torres through Darlene Bible, the current athletic director of operations and Torres’ swim coach during her years at Westlake.

Torres has visited Harvard-Westlake before, but this will be her first time speaking at a school assembly.

“We haven’t had a female athlete in a long time. Ms. Torres is a Westlake grad, and a pretty extraordinary one, at that. I’m just looking forward to having a former graduate come to visit,” Mamigonian said.

Torres won 12 Olympic medals over her 24 years of swimming at the Games, the first of which, a gold, she won in 1984, the summer before her senior year at Westlake. She concluded her Olympic career after falling short at age 45 of the 2012 Games by less than one tenth of a second.

Students from the Gender Studies class will introduce Torres at the assembly. The course, as part of its study of women’s history, “explores matters of justice in relativity to opportunities for women and others,” Mamigonian said.

Past speakers at Women’s History Month assemblies at Harvard-Westlake include veteran journalist Helen Thomas and labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta.

Since competing in Beijing, Torres has written books, worked with sponsors and given motivational speeches at several locations. She has also appeared on various television shows to talk about her career.
“She’s a relevant choice this year. Her ambition is to encourage people that whatever their age or their ability, they can master themselves, master a skill,” Mamigonian said.