Far East County native Della Lorenzetti stands barely 5 feet tall, but she might be the secret weapon lurking in Beijing's Water Cube as Serbia's swimmers pursue their quest for Olympic gold.
What's more remarkable: she's not a swimmer.
A massage therapist who worked on American sprint swimmers Gary Hall, Jr. and Anthony Ervin at the 2004 Games in Athens, where the two tied for the gold medal, Lorenzetti was invited by Serbia to be part of its 2008 team. Her main focus will be Serbia's Milorad Cavic, a Cal Berkley student.
Lorenzetti has worked as an independent contractor with UC Berkeley for more than 10 years, specifically with the swimmers, and has worked with the best of the best.
I'm mainly going to be taking care of (Cavic) this year, she said, adding that he has carved out an amazing career. I'll be stretching him, flushing out muscles and anything else he needs like nutritional supplements. I'll be dealing with everything.
But once I get to the (Olympic) Village, all the guys from all over the world will be stopping by.
In addition to Cavic, Lorenzetti's current client list of Olympic athletes, who will battle for the gold against American champion Michael Phelps this year, includes Rolin Schoeman of South Africa, Guy Barnea of Israel, Dominik Meichtry of Switzerland, Gordon Kozujl of Croatia and America's own Nathan Adrian, also of Cal Berkeley.
It's amazing. They come from all walks of life and from all over the world, Lorenzetti said. It has been so incredible working with these guys. I have learned so much about appreciating what we have here in this country.
It was back in 1989 that Lorenzetti owned a chiropractic business in Danville and met world-renowned sprint swim coach Mike Bottoms and got involved with the Cal athletes.
He really is the top sprint coach in the world, she said, noting that half of the 18 medals awarded in the men's sprint freestyle events (50 and 100m) in the past three Olympiads have been won by athletes Bottoms has coached. And I've worked with all of them.
Taking part in the Olympics and working with so many people from different cultures has been an eye-opening experience for Lorenzetti,who grew up in Oakley and graduated from Liberty High School in 1979.
We work together, eat together, and I've had their parents here for dinner. I've learned so much, said Lorenzetti, who now lives in Antioch and owns the In Touch Health Clinic, located inside the In-Shape club on Lone Tree Way. We have everything here in this country. It makes me realize how wealthy I am in my soul for having met these people. (Going to the Olympics) is one of the best achievements of my life.
You'll never be anywhere else where the whole world is represented.
Lorenzetti said that helping those less fortunate became a goal after she gave an athlete from South Africa $100: He said, You don't realize what this means to me.' He could live off that for two months.
In addition to seeing Cavic excel at his sport in Beijing, Lorenzetti said she wants to find another person whose life she can make a little better.
I'm looking forward to finding that less fortunate person I can bless, she said.