Winning the 2008 Australian Open Diving Championships isn’t an ordinary feat, but freshman diver Julia Lonnegren is anything but ordinary.
Born in Lund, Sweden, Lonnegren enjoyed a variety of sports at an early age before focusing solely on diving.
“My whole family has always been involved in sports,” Lonnegren said. “They made me try a lot of sports when I was young. They’ve always been very supportive.”
Despite being new to the U.S., she hopes diving will help her find a new home.
But Lonnegren still maintains strong ties to her homeland. She said the one word that would completely describe her would have to be Swedish and joked that her friends have taken to calling her “meatball.”
She said one of her happiest moments was when she learned she would be moving to Houston.
“I was very, very happy when I heard that I was coming to UH,” she said. “I heard a lot about the diving coach here. I had seen her at a lot of international competitions and heard so many good things about her, so I had an urge to contact her.”
After talking to head diving coach Jane Figueiredo, Lonnegren knew Figueiredo and UH was the correct choice.
Lonnegren, a kinesiology major, notices a big difference in the educational systems of Sweden and the U.S., but believes she is ready for the challenge.
Although Lonnegren is undergoing an international transition, her performance as a Cougar diver has not suffered. On Feb. 2, Conference USA named her Swimmer of the Week. She attributes achievements such as these to her fears.
“I always ask myself, ‘What is driving me?’ I’m a very scared diver, but I still enjoy being up on the ten-meter a lot,” she said. “I guess it’s the feeling when you come down in the water, like you actually made it from being so scared.”
Lonnegren’s primary athletic focus at UH centers on reaching the NCAA Diving Championship, one of her long-held goals.