The swimmer who stopped competing to become basketball champions

A swimmer in the reconstruction of the Spanish basketball team after the Gasol brothers? Yes. The same brain, forged in synchronization, that already directed the high-performance laboratories of the San Antonio Spurs or the Philadelphia 76rs in the NBA. Maybe her name doesn’t ring a bell, though. Lorraine Torres (Ibiza, 1981) is one of the most important figures in Spanish sport on the international scene. An overwhelming list of champions has passed through the hands of this scientist, ranging from Ona ​​Carbonell to Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons or Pau Gasol himself.

Any attempt to define their work will fall into simplifications: their responsibilities (and knowledge) range from physiology to nutrition, from biomechanics to big data. Let’s say that it is in charge of transforming into measurable information what an athlete transmits when exercising: it turns training into science, fatigue or the danger of injury to a body into numbers. And for this, it places the most innovative technology at the service of those who squeeze themselves competing.

Lorena Torres, during her time with the Philadelphia 76ers, with Australian player Ben Simmons.Lorraine Torres

It all started when she fell in love with the sport as a child (“it’s strange, nobody in my family practiced it…”, she reveals on the phone). She never ceased to occupy the center of her life from that moment on. At the age of four she started gymnastics. On the eve of adolescence, she discovered synchronized swimming, which caused her to move to Barcelona at the age of 16 and discipline that, she confesses, forged her character. Her generation was that of Gemma Mengual or Paola Tirados, perhaps the most successful that the Spanish synchro has ever produced. So, at the age of 19, Torres told herself: “I’m good, but there are 13 or 14 better than me. I need to find a path that allows me to pursue being the best.” She is as disciplined as she is self-demanding, moved by a tyrannical curiosity and a constant need to continue learning. She studied INEF (and then three master’s degrees and a doctorate), she saw herself destined to be a “synchro coach” and, then, one of her mentors told her: “instead of a sport, you could dedicate yourself to professional sport in Yes”. That’s where her journey would begin, the one that has made her an unavoidable professional, the one that, in different stages, has been taking her through the tennisthe Golfthe handball or the basketball. The one who has forced her to face that there was someone who told her: “There is no place for women like you in men’s locker rooms.”

The stages of Lorena Torres’ journey

A small club had sprung up in Ibiza and he signed up there. He was good at it and, at the age of 14 or 15, he remembers the impression it made on him to go out for the first time to compete in a national championship. At 16 he was offered to move to train at the Joaquín Blume in Barcelona, ​​a residence for athletes attached to the High Performance Center of the Higher Sports Council. His days there consisted of pool and classroom, training and study. From seven in the morning to nine at night. Even then, “although he still didn’t know physiology”, he wondered: “does it make sense to repeat a complete routine in the water eight times in a row? Is this the most efficient way to train? When her teammates from the Spanish team came to compete in Perth and she was not called up, she decided that it would be a turning point: her final in synchro, the germinal moment of the scientist she would become.

“I came from a water sport, without gravity or impacts, where artistic nuances were valued, and suddenly I was faced with one with multiple changes of direction, with a mobile, the ball, with a racket…”. Lorena Torres had just finished her degree and had decided to listen to her mentor Joan Solé: she would not be a synchronized swimming coach, she would work with elite athletes. She with Marta Marrero she started when she was the 100th in the world, according to the WTA ranking. After joint work, she reached the 60th position. “For me it was a key moment: I bought books, read all the scientific articles that were published, watched hours and hours of games and analyzed the movements… At three years old I was convinced that my life and my career would be linked forever to tennis”, says Torres. Then came a new change.

He devoted his Ph.D. research to golf. During this process, he matured his own methodology and became convinced of the benefits of opening up to the world: “Great things are made as a team,” defends Torres. She had no qualms about picking up the phone and, if the person who knew the most in the world about the subject at hand —location systems, strength training, data…— was, for example, in Australia, ask him. Thus began her international collaborations and publications with other scientists. And so the call from Barça came in 2010.

In 2010 Torres began to take charge of the physical preparation of two Barcelona academy teams, the junior basketball team and the FC Barcelona B handball team. She combined these tasks with her classes as a teacher at the universities of Vic and Lleida. “That is where for the first time I collide with machismo and sexism.” Her future had a ceiling. And it was not a question of capacity. She was because she was a woman. “In 2013 they explained to me the reason for my stagnation. At the end of that season she chose to leave the Barça discipline”. She was down. “But, from that low point, I rebounded harder. Like a slingshot.”

By 2014, the list of knowledge that Torres dominated had increased consistently. She felt, she says, more self-assured than ever. She “she had studied issues of nutrition, food supplementation, muscle recovery, sleep…”. With Ona Carbonell she wanted to measure everything: base her training on objective parameters. She made him wear an underwater heart rate monitor, the first to be used for this purpose in a swimming pool: she controlled her heart rate at each point of the choreography, her loads, she took lactate samples…

When it seemed that he would return to stay in the sport that had been his home, the most unexpected call came, the most irresistible.


Torres spent four seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, holder of five NBA championship rings since 1999, one of the most successful franchises in American basketball. With the Texans, his first occupation, in 2015, consisted of building for his subsidiary team, which participates in the G-League, the entire structure for high performance that the absolute squad did possess: acquisition of instruments, hiring and training of physical trainers and coaches… The year after their arrival they won the title: “I have a G-League ring!” Torres says happily. With the first team, he was not only looking out for any performance-enhancing options that might come into view, any methodological changes that might be beneficial, but he personally took charge of the physical preparation of the rookies and youngsters and the recovery of the injured stars. “I spent a lot of time with players like Tony Parker or Boris Diaw, with whom I still have a beautiful friendship.”

For the 2019/2020 season, a Director of Performance position has become vacant at the Philadelphia 76rs. The Catalan Sergi Oliva, who works as general manager and assistant coach at the Portland Trail Blazers, told him: “well, introduce yourself”. After a couple of online interviews they bought her a plane ticket to meet her. We have interviewed many people, but we want you, they told him. “Philadelphia is a franchise that is eternally a candidate for anything, which, however, always seems on the verge of imploding,” says Torres, smiling, for whom her experience there was one of the most enriching challenges of her career. Her role had to be that of a leader, managing a team of 15 people and reporting directly to the coach. Is he to play such a player? How many minutes? For this reason, the first order they gave him was: “earn the trust of Joel Embiid”. The Cameroonian star has his own team of physical trainers, physiotherapists, chefs… an increasingly common phenomenon among elite athletes. “We watched a Rafa Nadal match together on TV, we started a chat, we joked about Nadal’s tics… Later, I told him: ‘I’m not going to impose anything on you, but I’m here for whatever you may need’.” It worked.

the return home

He had shaped the physique of superstars, he had been one of the few people who, because he was essential, was able to stay inside the Orlando bubble in 2020, when the NBA resumed competition with the pandemic wreaking havoc, so much so that the players could not see or to their families… She was a professional of the highest level and Spanish, so the coach Sergio Scariolo asked the Spanish Basketball Federation (FEB) to add her to their ranks. Torres helped Scariolo’s coaching staff prepare for the Tokyo Games, helped a forty-year-old Pau Gasol have one last dance with “the family,” his longtime teammates, before retiring.

Since then, he continues to do his bit with the senior team, which is preparing for the Eurobasket to be held in September, and, at the same time, tries to build a structure in youth basketball that guarantees the best physical performance of the players of the future. But not only: he has a joint project with the football and basketball player representation agency YouFirst. It is in charge, for all those elite athletes who want to do individual work outside their clubs, to find the appropriate technology for their needs, the best nutritionist, the right trainer…

Lorena Torres with Ricky Rubio, Willy Hernangómez and coach Sergio Scariolo during the preparation for the Tokyo 2021 Games.
Lorena Torres with Ricky Rubio, Willy Hernangómez and coach Sergio Scariolo during the preparation for the Tokyo 2021 Games.ALBERTO SNOWY

“Will they deny me entry to a locker room again?” Torres asks scathingly, as he fantasizes about a future, his own, in which he sees more changes, more learning. Always sport.

An unwavering commitment

Teamwork, intelligence, self-improvement, a sense of sportsmanship… These are fundamental values ​​that Endesa tries to promote in society through basketball. A commitment that extends to domestic competitions for men and women (the Endesa League and the Endesa Women’s League) and the Spanish Basketball Federation. It not only provides support to the absolute men’s and women’s teams, but also to all training categories and the Spanish Sports Federation for People with Physical Disabilities. a whole community of Basket Lovers.

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The swimmer who stopped competing to become basketball champions