London’s Calling: Lia Neal and Amanda Weir

TEMPE, Arizona, July 7. CONTINUING with Swimming World’s athlete profiles in the countdown to the Olympics, today we take a look at two Team USA athletes set to swim on the women’s 400 freestyle relay.

These two athletes come from very different swimming careers. Amanda Weir is a seasoned Olympic relay swimmer who represented the United States in 2004 in Athens. Her Olympic expertise contrasts with rookie Olympic team member Lia Neal who, until a few months ago, couldn’t fathom the idea of being a part of Team USA Olympic roster.

Lia Neal:

Due to NBC rights holder restrictions, the following video interview is only viewable until 7/27/2012:

Lia Neal made news when the 17 year old became only the second African American woman to make the Olympic team in the sport of swimming. The first African American woman was Maritza Correia, who won silver in 4×100 freestyle relay in Athens.

After squeaking in to the 100 freestyle finals in lane 8, Neal had a stellar performance, clocking a time of 54.33, which moved her up four places and earned her a 4×100 freestyle relay spot.

An emotional Neal talked with Swimming World correspondent Jeff Commings immediately after the race in Omaha.

“I don’t even know,” Neal said in response to her feelings about making the Olympic team. “Obviously I’m pretty shocked, pretty overwhelmed… Getting fourth surpassed all my expectations!”

This Brooklyn native trains with Asphalt Green Unified Aquatics on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, and was the Gold medalist in the 100 freestyle at World Junior Championships.

“At the Charlotte Grand Prix I realized I actually had a shot [at the Olympics]… Charolotte was kind of the turning point for me,” Neal tells Swimming World. “I’m going to the Olympics… that’s so weird!”

Amanda Weir:

Photo Credit: Greg Smith-US PRESSWIRE

After an eight year Olympic absence, after placing 8th in the 100 freestyle final in the 2008 Olympic trials, Weir once again will represent Team USA.

26-year-old Amanda Weir (born March 11, 1986) made her second Olympic team in Omaha last week. Weir already has two Olympic silver medals to her name, one in the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay in Athens, in which she swam third leg, and in the 400 medley relay.

Weir started her collegiate career in 2004 at the University of Georgia. At the 2005 NCAA Championships, she anchored an unprecedented 4 of the 5 UGA winning relays. After this, Weir was named the 2005 Atlanta Amateur Athlete of the year.

In 2006, she transferred to the University of Southern California, but retired from collegiate swimming one year later to pursue a professional swimming career.

At the 2006 National Championships, she broke American record in the 100 freestyle.

Weir trains with SwimAtlanta in Lawrenceville, under longtime coach Chris Davis. She has been part of SwimAtlanta since she was 10, when her family moved to Atlanta.

Written and Posted by Shoshanna Rutemiller