Diver’s career impresses accomplished coach
At diving practice while attempting a back-twister on the 3 meter, senior Julia Lonnegren’s favorite move on the diving board, she hears her head coach Jane Figueiredo tell her that bigger risks result in bigger rewards.
Lonnegren tries to keep her thoughts to a minimum, swing her arms fast and look at the water while she’s taking off.
She has been rewarded for her risks with four consecutive Conference USA Diver of the Week awards earlier this month and was named C-USA diver of the year for 2011-2012.
“She’s diligent, but this year especially, I’ve seen her really make a special effort on her nutrition, on fixing the little things that we’ve really been working on over the years, technique,” Figueiredo said.
“That’s the reason for the C-USA awards, and I hope her Conference championship is just as successful. For NCAA’s, I just want her to let it all hang out.”
Back home in Sweden, Lonnegren said she has four younger sisters who give her the drive to become a great diver and accomplish the things that she has at UH.
Lonnegren said she wants to set a good example for them to follow and hopes they will be attending her graduation. While Lonnegren said it’s hard for them to know exactly what’s been going on in her career, Figueiredo has always held the pool-side view.
Lonnegren said the three years she’s spent at UH have been a good preparation for her success in addition to practice, which has allowed her to develop consistency.
“Every season is to always perform and make the top at Conference and perform well at all boards: the 1 meter, 3 meter and 10 meter,” Lonnegren said. “I want to be able to go in there like I have done during the competitions this season, try to compete like practice and have consistency. I like to feel happy and calm at the same time; that makes me perform at my top.”
As her May 2014 graduation approaches, Lonnegren said she is enjoying the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship where she works on multiple personal purpose assignments with Dave Cook, the director of Mentoring Programs, who has been helping her to set up some goals for her career post UH.
“I’ll definitely want to stay here for a year after and work and be able to utilize the contacts I’ve gained here and get some working experience. After that, I want to in some way stay in athletics and work out,” Lonnegren said.
Figueiredo is helping Lonnegren get ready to potentially compete for Sweden, allowing the duo to work together on an international level and further Lonnegren’s skills as a diver.
In her 22 seasons as diving head coach, Figueiredo has noticed Lonnegren from her initial arrival to the University.
“I think with Jules, it’s just making every day she comes in with just a great attitude, she smiles, and I just love her effort,” Figueiredo said. “Plus I’ll miss her passion and her commitment, and just what I love about being a UH Cougar she exudes that. That I want to see all of my girls leave here feeling that great spirit and this great feeling about being a Cougar.”
Figueirdo said Lonnegren has made each day special since joining UH.
“I’m very, very lucky she makes my job so much easier, and she’s such a great representative of our program and then of course the University of Houston,” Figueiredo said. “There are very few kids that come into your program quite like her.”