If I could invite anyone to brunch, I'd invite Gertrude Ederle.
Ms. Ederle was an Olympic gold medalist in swimming, but more importantly, she was the first woman to swim across the English Channel. At the time she did, only five men had ever accomplished that feat.
As I prepared for my journey toward the 2008 Beijing Olympics, I was told by many people that I was crazy -- there was no reason a 40+ year-old should be on the Olympic team taking up the spot of a younger first-time Olympian. The truth is, when you attempt to do something that has never been done before, you are not only battling you own fears and doubts, you’re battling everyone else's, too.
Ms. Ederle inspires me even today to dream big and to keep my blinders on -- because if you truly want to break stereotypes or artificial barriers, you must be twice as strong as those doubters that won't appreciate a person's desire to take a risk.
Dara Torres is arguably the fastest female swimmer in America. She entered her first international swimming competition at age 14 and competed in her first Olympics a few years later in 1984. At age 41, Dara became the oldest swimmer to compete in the Olympics at the Beijing Games in 2008. She went on to win three silver medals, one in the 50m free and the others swimming anchor in the 4x100m free relay and the 4x100m medley relays. In total, she has won 12 medals in her Olympic career.