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SWIMMING / CHRIS FOSTER

Sorgi's Choice May Lead to Her Taking a Dive in Sydney

March 14, 2000|CHRIS FOSTER

The best thing that ever happened to Erica Sorgi was the ultimatum.

She had a choice, she was told: gymnastics or diving. Her gymnastics coach must have been pretty sure about things to have laid down the law.

This summer, Sorgi will likely be diving in the Olympics, not tip-toeing across some balance beam. Her chances are good. She is the reigning U.S. national champion in the three-meter and finished fourth in the 10-meter competition.

"I kind of had a bad meet," said Sorgi, a senior at Capistrano Valley High.

Scary what she might do on a good day.

Sorgi is not surprised. She has been building toward this for a few years.

She has won 12 national junior titles and already has six senior national titles--a resume that seems to have the Olympics as the next destination.

"If I go to the Olympics, great," the 17-year-old Sorgi said. "If I don't, other good things will happen to me this summer."

This has been Sorgi's no-stress style since diving first intrigued her. She was 8, competing for a gymnastics club. But her eye would wander to the divers practicing outside.

It looked like fun, so she signed up.

"Actually, it came pretty easily to me," said Sorgi, who has signed with Stanford. "In both sports you do a lot of flipping and twisting and acrobatics. If you know how to do a somersault, you can make an easy transition between the two sports."

At first, there wasn't so much a transition as a juggling act as she tried to balance both for two years.

Then her gymnastics coach made her choose. It was too late for gymnastics. Sorgi's passion had changed to diving.

"It's fun and low key," Sorgi said.

She quickly became one of the Mission Viejo Nadadores' best divers. Sorgi competed in her first international meet in 1994. She finished third in the three-meter competition and fourth in the one-meter in Mexico City.

Ever since, she has been on a whirlwind world-wide tour, traveling to Malaysia, Brazil, Germany, Austria, Canada and China. She has also been to Australia three times, with a fourth visit a possibility.

The Olympic diving trials are in Seattle in June. Sorgi seems ready for the trip to Sydney.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

Sorgi will certainly build up the frequent flyer mileage in the next few months. Not that she will have much time to cash it in for a vacation.

In April, she will be in Minnesota, competing in an international meet. In May, she will be in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., for a national competition. In June, she heads for the Olympic trials.

In between all that, she will find time to dive for Capistrano Valley High and defend her Southern Section Division I championship.

Actually, that means she will compete in three section-sanctioned meets. The hard part, though, is that the section championship is scheduled a few days after she returns from Ft. Lauderdale.

"Usually when you come back from a big meet, you have a letdown for a few days," Sorgi said. "Maybe it's the competitive high you are on."

Of course, the letdown wasn't too bad last year, when she had to deal with the same back-to-back scenario. Sorgi finished third in Ft. Lauderdale. Three days later, she won the one-meter and three-meter Division I titles for the second time in three seasons.

Sorgi did not compete as a sophomore. She attended an independent studies school while concentrating on national and international competition.

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If you have an item or idea for the swimming report, you can fax us at (714) 966-5663 or e-mail us at chris.foster@latimes.com

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