Her name is Janet Evans and by swimming 8:49.36 effort in the 800-meter freestyle, a forty-five-year-old woman is now rated 140th in the world.
From the New York Times:
Evans finished in 8:49.36. She stayed close to the top three in the early stages of the 16-lap race before fading in the second half of the eight-woman race. She was the first woman to win back-to-back Olympic titles in the 800 in 1988 and '92.
"It was a little disappointing, but I think she's tired from training," said Mark Schubert, Evans' longtime coach. During her comeback, Schubert has tinkered slightly with Evans' famed windmill stroke in which her head and shoulders come up out of the water more than most swimmers.
"We tried to get her head down and get her to swim in and out of her turns a little better, which she's doing," Schubert said. "You don't make huge changes. It's just trying to figure out the right things to do the last four or five weeks before trials."
[Link]If Janet Evans were a tennis player ranked 140th-in-the-world, Evans would be able to play in the first-round of tennis at the Australian Open. Swimming, as it is conducted today, only appreciates the top three swimmers. Hence, the sport has few heroes or sources of inspiration.
Consider this, our events are conducted like horse races rather than one-one-one competitions. If a competitor is not in the top-three in any event the chances are that they are not sponsored nor appreciated. But as for Janet Evans, she has proven that she can beat 99.999999% any female in the 800-free at 40-years-of-age and like Dara Torres, that's inspirational.