OMAHA, Neb. - Dara Torres lingered in the water after the other swimmers had climbed out of the pool.
Her long career was finally over.
She wanted to soak up the moment as long as possible.
At 45, Torres came up short in her bid to make it to the Olympics for a sixth time. She finished fourth in the final of the 50-meter freestyle Monday night, her only event at the U.S. swimming trials.
"This is really over," Torres said. "That's it. I'm going to enjoy some time with my daughter, have a nice summer and cheer on the U.S. team."
After winning three silver medals at the Beijing Olympics, Torres underwent radical knee surgery and put all her hopes into a chaotic dash from one end of the pool to the other. But Jessica Hardy won in 24.50 seconds, while Kara Lynn Joyce took the other Olympic spot in 24.73.
Torres was denied a trip to London by nine-hundredths of a second, also touching behind third-place Christine Magnuson (24.78), who trains in Tucson.
"Obviously I was hoping to make the team," Torres said. "That was my goal and missing it by less than a tenth of a second is tough, but I don't think there's anything I could have changed."
UA swimmers Kait Flederbach (sixth) and Margo Geer (seventh) former Wildcat Lara Jackson (eighth) were also in the final.
Torres smiled when she saw her time (24.82) and hugged both Hardy and Joyce. When Torres finally got out, she began motioning for her daughter, 6-year-old Tessa, to join her.
Torres walked into the stands, still dripping wet, and scooped up Tessa, who was wearing a green shirt that said "Go Mom."
"She's bummed she's not going to London now," Torres said. "I told her I'd still take her."
In the last event of the eight-day trials, Andrew Gemmell won the 1,500 freestyle in 14 minutes, 52.19 seconds. Connor Jaeger was right with him all the way, taking the second spot for London in 14:52.51.
Torres said she had the same nervous anticipation before her last race as she did at her first U.S. trials in 1984, when she earned a spot in the Los Angeles Games. She had no illusions about being a serious medal contender in London.
"Being 45, getting fourth in Olympic trials against girls almost half my age, it's OK," Torres said. "I'm used to winning, but that wasn't the goal here. The goal was to try to make it. I didn't quite do it, but I'm really happy with how I did. I was able to hang in there.
Hardy said it was an honor to compete against Torres, who retired twice but came back to win five medals at the 2000 Sydney Games, then three more silvers in Beijing.
Hardy failed to qualify for the Olympics in her best event, the 100 breaststroke, but she bounced back to win the 100 and 50 freestyles, capping her comeback from a failed doping test that kept her off the team four years ago.
Phelps cuts 200 free from London plans
Michael Phelps withdrew from the 200-meter freestyle, leaving him at seven races in London.
"It's so much smarter for me to do that," Phelps said. "We're not trying to re-create what happened in Beijing."
Phelps won eight gold medals in Beijing four years ago, and qualified in five individual events for London and is expected to swim all three relays.
But he will now focus on the 200 and 400 individual medleys and the 100 and 200 butterfly events.