Swimming Prodigy Lia Neal

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Metropolitan Swimming 2006 Hall Of Fame Dinner

I was just happy I learned to dog-paddle when I was younger so I wouldn't sink down to the bottom of the pool:

Lia Neal, a newly minted 13-year-old from Brooklyn, is at an age when girls tend to expend a lot of energy trying to blend into the background. Neal is a typical teenager in that respect. She defers to her older teammates when it comes to setting the training pace. She retrieves equipment for everybody in her lane as if she were their kid sister and not a prodigy.

Neal stands out, anyway, because of her deft strokes and her dark skin. The youngest child of an African-American father and an Asian mother, she has been compared to another biracial prodigy who blossomed in a mostly white sport. The connection to Tiger Woods is perhaps inevitable, but Neal prefers being mentioned in the same breath as Cynthia Woodhead, a swimmer in the 1970s who, like Neal, qualified for the Olympic trials in the freestyle as a 12-year-old.
Check out the full article at the NY Times.