Olympians Who Love the Coast

For these Summer Olympics athletes, it's the sand, sun, and water that keeps them inspired. Here are four coastal stars to root for this summer. Go U.S.A.!

Dara Torres, swimming

Photo: Grace Huang

Dara Torres, swimming

Her coast: Palm Beach, FL

The beach makes her feel... 
"Just sort of free, you know? It's the beauty of being outside, and the sand on the feet, and riding the waves, and the beautiful sky. It's just a beautiful place to be."

If she's not swimming, she's... 
"Water-skiing, sailing, surfing—maybe just 5-foot waves at the most. I'm not into big, huge waves. I just like a nice ride."

Her medals: hidden, or in broad view? 
"In a safe, hidden away. Not in broad view. That's not me at all."

 

Dana Torres, swimming

Photo: Grace Huang

Sand, Surf, and (Abs of) Steel

OK, she's a pro at this, but what is she absolutely awful at? 
"Oh geez ... I'm one of these people where sports comes really easily. But probably golf. I'm not good with patience."

About those abs: 
"Sometimes when I give talks, at the end, I get a guy who says, 'Let me see your abs!' And I'm like, 'Let me see yours first, and then I'll show you mine.'"

How like-mother-like-daughter: 
"If my daughter and I are walking to the kitchen, she'll want to beat me, and I'm like, really? I don't remember how much I was like that when I was younger."

On being perky: 
"Someone Tweeted me and said, 'I'm signing off from your account because you have too many exclamation points.' I was like, 'OK ... .' I just get excited!"

Dana Torres, swimming

Photo: Grace Huang

Challenges and Inspiration

Where she gets her inspiration: 
"It's not so much a person as much as a task or a challenge that inspires me—for example, my age right now [45] and the fact that I had knee reconstructive surgery and a cartilage transplant. I thrive on challenges."

Ever freak out in the bathing suit dressing room like we do, Dara? 
"I definitely do. And I think people go, 'Oh, yeah right,' but you know, I have expectations for myself. And there are certain times you're in a dressing room and things fit you horribly. Or the lighting's bad. You're just like, 'Forget it, I'll come another time.'"

What she's most grateful for right now: 
"My daughter, my daughter, and my daughter. No, let's see. It's Tessa, and then my family, and then my health."

Zach & Paige Railey, sailing

Photo: Grace Huang

Zach & Paige Railey, sailing

Their coast: Clearwater Beach, FL

Zach, on how he and his sister got started sailing thanks to...their dentist? 
"We got into sailing through our family dentist, who was a member of the local yacht club. He knew we loved being around water and he recommended it to my parents when I was 8 years old. So I went to sailing camp."

If they're not sailing on the coast, they're... 
"Fishing and scuba diving for me," says Zach. And for Paige, "triathlons, snorkeling, and free diving."

Zach & Paige Railey, sailing

Photo: Grace Huang

All in the Family

The beach makes Zach feel...
"Relaxed. Whether you're lying out on the beach or you're out in your boat or sailing, it's very comforting to leave everything that you have going on in your life on shore. You know? You just leave it."

A good beach to Paige is...
"All about the soft sand and the clear water. Clearwater Beach has baby powder sand, so you don't even really need a beach towel to lie on. It's just so soft. And when it's stingray mating season, all the stingrays are coming up and down the beach, and we even have dolphins, so there's a lot of animal life."

Zach & Paige Railey, sailing

Photo: Grace Huang

Friendly Competition

Zach, on their lack of competition with each other: 
"One of the things that makes us so successful is that we are pushing each other all the time. If Paige slacks off, I let her know about it, and when I slack off, she definitely lets me know about it! So I think we have a huge advantage with having a family member traveling on the circuit together."

Well, maybe not a total lack of competition:
"Oh my gosh," says Paige, "my brother thinks he's the Monopoly god. I will never forget when I beat him one day. He was having a mental breakdown." Adds Zach, "It's funny because we'll be like, 'Who can fill up a bottle the quickest with the hose? Who can run up five flights of stairs faster?' We just run each other into the ground."

Kerri Walsh, beach volleyball

Photo: Grace Huang

Kerri Walsh, beach volleyball

Her coast: Manhattan Beach, CA

The beach makes her feel...
"I have so many dreams I want to realize on the beach. It makes me feel inspired."

A good beach to Kerri is... 
"Clean. And nice parking would be good. [laughs] For me, now that I'm a parent, just easy and clean. That means the lottery on this end: clean."

Her dream beach: 
"When I close my eyes and picture the ideal beach, I think of Manhattan Beach. It's a lot of sand, beautiful white sand, and it goes for miles and you can see the whole South Bay. It's just so beautiful."

How the coast inspired her to become an athlete: 
"Both of my parents were athletes, and they would take us to the beach a lot. Growing up outside of Santa Cruz, we were always being physical. We grew up on a lot of acreage, and we were never inside—we were always playing outside and exploring."

Kerri Walsh, beach volleyball

Photo: Grace Huang

Finding that Perfect Suit

On avoiding the "four butts" when swimsuit shopping: 
"Because I'm so active, it's walking that fine line where the elastic is tight enough but not too tight where it gives you four butts. I don't like high-cut stuff. I don't like the butt being too big. And I'm tiny up top, so I don't really have any issues. If there's padding in there, I'll probably buy it!"

If she's not playing volleyball on the coast, she's... 
"Just hanging out on the beach. Some of my favorite times are when we go with a group of friends and play Tuesday night volleyball."

On the likelihood you'll find Kerri sitting still on the beach: 
It depends on how good my book is [laughs], and it depends who I'm with. It's funny, because I do find myself doing sit-ups or leg raises, even if I'm reading my book. So generally, yeah, it's a challenge to sit still."

Kerri Walsh, beach volleyball

Photo: Grace Huang

A Family Affair

On her sons' (Sundance, 2, and Joey, 3) volleyball skills:
"Sundance loves balls and throwing them, and Joey has a great arm. They're hilarious. They're athletes, for sure. We'll see if they want to go that road. Right now, they just throw balls at us. It's just fun to be outside, messing with the ball."

Her medals: hidden or in broad view?
"My first one from Athens I gave to my parents because they earned it way more than I did, and they keep it in a safe. I do clinics around the country, and I bring the other one to show the kids. But it's not displayed anywhere."

And where will her next medal go? 
That goes to my husband and the boys. I want to win so badly so I can say, 'We did this, and thank you for this.' I want to make them proud."

The Opening Ceremonies for the 2012 Olympic Games in London will air July 27 at 3 p.m. EST on NBC.

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