DanvilleSanRamon.com

Sports - July 6, 2007

'Secret weapon' makes international splash

Danish American swimmer excels in freestyle on two continents

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

When the Jorgensen family moved to Blackhawk from Denmark two years ago, the first thing they did was look for a swim team for Lia, then 11. Her father, Jesper Jorgensen, was a nationally ranked swimmer in Denmark and Lia, who started swimming at age 2 months, had been on swim teams virtually all her life.

Lia, now 13 and going into the eighth grade at Diablo Vista Middle School, swims for the Crow Canyon Sharks, a competitive year-round team. Plus she recently returned from competing in the National Danish Swimming Championships. She is a dual citizen of both the United States and Denmark.

"Despite getting off a transatlantic flight less than a week before, she did very well, helping her team to win three bronze medals and one silver in the relay races," said Karina Porcelli, her mother, who is American.

"She is the fastest freestyler on her Danish team and because she was not known by a lot of the teams, was called their 'secret weapon,'" she added.

Lia's individual times at the Danish Nationals were as follows:

400 freestyle: 4.38.00 for a fifth place

200 freestyle: 2.13.02 for a fourth

100 freestyle: 1.02.08

50 freestyle: 28.6.00 for a fifth

"Freestyle is my favorite," said Lia.

She said swimming is also big in Denmark, in indoor pools.

"But it's not as big as in America," she said.

Swimming takes dedication, she said, with two-hour swim practices beginning twice a week at 5:30 a.m. at Crow Canyon Country Club, and at 6 a.m. the other mornings. The team also has afternoon practices twice a week, with some practices at Campolindo High in Moraga and Acalanes High in Lafayette.

"I pretty much swim the whole time - and hang out with friends," Lia said.

She has two younger brothers: Alexander, 11, and Christopher, 2. She said the biggest difference between living here and in Denmark is the schools.

"School is not as serious in Denmark," she said. "There is not as much homework."

Lia plans to swim in high school and hopes to also swim for UC Berkeley or USC.

Her father is now a masters swimmer, an organized program for adults that ranges from lap swimming to international competition. He said Lia's speed is largely due to the "fantastic coaching" from the Sharks coaches, Dan Cottam and Ethan Hall.

"She has improved her natural strength and energy tremendously in terms of technique and stroke under their watchful eyes," said Porcelli.

"She is in the position of having two homes, two teams - and knows she is very lucky to have that," she said.

E-mail photos to Editor@DanvilleWeekly.com.

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