This Mermaid has found her man: Dara Torres, 35, the nine-time medal-winning Olympic swimmer who in 1994 became the first athlete to pose along with supermodels in SI's swimsuit issue, was to marry surgeon Ike Shasha, 55, on Jan. 16 in a small ceremony in Palm Beach, Fla. Torres says that Shasha proposed early one morning in October, during their trip to meet his family in Israel, as the two stood in a desert, watching the sun rise over the Jordanian Highlands.
•Not only did Auri Allen, a 6'8", 280-pound seventh grader from Brentwood, Tenn., meet Shaquille O'Neal on the episode of Ripley's Believe It or Not! that aired last week, but he also got a few thrills off the set. During a break in filming, the two were having lunch when Shaq's cellphone rang. After a quick greeting, he passed it to Auri. The caller I.D. said "H. Berry? as in Halle Berry. "I couldn't believe it," Auri, 12, said of his chat with the stunning Oscar-winning actress. The kid had barely recovered when Jennifer Lopez called. "She told me one thing I will never forget," Auri told SI. "She said I had a sexy name." Allen, who plays center for the St Vincent de Paul school, also got some solid advice from O'Neal: "He told me to practice, stay focused and don't get into girls." But what about Ms. Berry and J. Lo? "Those aren't girls," Auri explained. "Those are women."
•We checked and five of the 25 suitors vying for Trista Rhen on ABC's The Bachelorette played pro or college sports. Ryan Sutter, 28, was a standout safety for the University of Colorado from 1994 to '97. He made his NFL debut with the Panthers in '98, finally getting to play in Week 13, then dislocated his shoulder, essentially ending his NFL career. The other sporting bachelors: Jeff Popovich, 25, a strong safety for the Miami Hurricanes from '96 to '99; Jamie Blyth, 27, who last year played European basketball in Stockholm; Brook Pemberton, 29, a calf roper who's been in about 100 pro rodeos; and Bob Guiney, 31, a backup quarterback at Michigan State from '89 to 92 who took zero career snaps. All survived Rehn's first cut, which slimmed the field to 15. Can they last? "I spent a lot of time waiting for her to call my name," Guiney tells SI about the show. "It was very much like being at Michigan State."
•We also checked the sports credentials of Evan Marriott, the star of the Fox hit Joe Millionaire—and found his penchant for duplicity runs deep. In 2001 Marriott, now 28, studied briefly at Ultimate University, a California school for pro wrestlers, where his nom de guerre was Duke Suede.
•Super Bowl or Lollapalooza? The lineup of Super Sunday singers includes Celine Dion (who'll sing God Bless America), the Dixie Chicks (The Star-Spangled Banner) and Shania Twain (who'll perform at half-time).... Stars goalie Marty Turco is living up to his reputation for making important saves. He recently apprehended an 18-year-old man who'd broken into the garage of his home in Coppell, Texas, and was allegedly fixing to steal beer out of a refrigerator. Turco chased die man down, tackled him and held him until police arrived.... On Feb. 4 welterweight champ Vernon Forrest will receive an award from the Association for die Help of Retarded Children at its annual dinner in New York for his extensive work with the mentally disabled.