By Keen Hung Lee
At age 17, Lia Neal became the second U.S. female of African-American descent to bring home a bronze medal for the 4×100 freestyle relay at 2012 Summer Olymipics in London. Neal’s mother, Siu, is Chinese American and her father, Jerome, is African-American. Neal was born on February 13, 1995, and was raised in Brooklyn, New York. She attends the Convenet of the Sacred Heart School and is a member of the club swim team, Asphalt Green Unified Aquatics in Manhatan, New York.
Neal was qualified to participate in the Olympics 4×100 freestyle by finishing fourth in the 100-meter freestyle with a time of 54.33 seconds. The U.S. team finished third after the Australian and Netherlands teams. Neal won a bronze in the 4×100-meter freestyle with Missy Franklin, Jessica Hardy and Allison Schmitt. Neal had a split of 53.65 swimming in the third leg, and the team finished with a total time of 3:34.24, an American record.
Based on her performance in the heats of the 4×100-meter freestyle, Neal was selected to participate in the final. Neal posted a time of 54.15 in the heats while swimming in the lead-off leg.
On Friday, August 10, Asphalt Green in New York City welcomed their bronze medalist home. Mayor Bloomberg declared August 10 as “Lia Neal Recognition Day in Brooklyn” for her resilience, hard-work, and dedication, making Brooklyn proud. Neal returned to Brooklyn to inspire and create change. Through the start of SwimBrooklyn!, which encourages people to swim and to save lives, Neal and her family are raising money to create swimming programs and an Olympic-sized pool in Brooklyn!
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