By ERIC OLSON
AP Sports Writer
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ Dara Torres showed up at the CenturyLink Center on Monday to promote the 2016 U.S. Olympic Swim Trials.
No, the ageless Torres isn’t making another comeback. She was in Omaha as a goodwill ambassador this time.
“It’s a little different to be here as someone talking about the Olympic trials and not actually being in the Olympic trials,” Torres said. “But I’m actually OK with it. I think I finally got it all out of my system.”
The five-time Olympian ended her competitive career here during the 2012 trials, finishing fourth in the 50-meter freestyle. She was nine-hundredths of a second away from making the U.S. team at age 45.
Except for a few hours on April Fool’s Day _ when she tweeted she was coming out of retirement _ there has been no question her days as an elite swimmer are over.
“Right when I climbed out of the water the last trials, it was `OK, that’s it. I’m done,’ ” she said. “I didn’t look back since then.”
The 2016 trials _ set for June 26 to July 3 _ will be the third straight time the trials have been held in Omaha. It likely will be 22-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps’ last meet in the United States. On the women’s side, all eyes will be on stars Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin.
A sidelight will be Natalie Coughlin’s attempt to make the Olympic team for a fourth time. She needs one more medal to give her 13 and break the record she shares with Torres and Jenny Thompson for most decorated U.S. women’s swimmer.
Attendance for the eight-day trials went from 160,000 in 2008 to 164,000 in 2012. Omaha Sports Commission president Harold Cliff said the goal is to reach 170,000 and tickets went on sale Monday. In addition to seats good for all 15 sessions from $350 to $550, there again will be 100 all-session “Victory Row” seats on the pool deck for $1,100.
The trials will be carried by NBC and NBC Sports Network, with all finals televised live.
Torres, who lives in Boston, is spokeswoman for USA Swimming’s “SwimToday” program, which encourages youngsters to join swim teams and touts the body-and-mind benefits of swimming. She was out of the water for a time because of a broken thumb and knee problems, but she’s returned to do some training with the Cambridge Masters Swim Club at Harvard.
“I told the coach at my first practice that I don’t want to be timed. I’m just here for fun and just to get good exercise in,” Torres said. “Sometimes you have some of the guys trying to race you, or you can see out of the corner of your eye when you’re taking a breath that they’re trying to race you.
“I say to myself, `Ok, no way, I can’t let this guy beat me.’ I think I’ve been pretty good for the most part, but the competitiveness comes up sometimes.”
She said she has no regrets about how her career ended three years ago.
“In one aspect, obviously, it was sad. Another aspect, it was a relief knowing I gave it everything I had and I can look back and safely say there was nothing else I could have done,” she said. “The worst feeling would be thinking I should have done this, I should have done that. I didn’t have that. I thought when I got out that everyone would be consoling me. My mom was crying, my daughter was crying. I had to go console them instead of me being consoled.”