"It's Go Time": Diver Cassidy Krug
Photo: Jim Cowswert/US Presswire
By Sam Scott
Cassidy Krug’s stellar diving career almost ended with one glaring omission. A former NCAA champion and 10-time national champion, Krug, ’07, had never been to the Olympics—and briefly walked away from the sport after failing to qualify for the 2008 Games. But Krug has come back in a big way to realize her lifelong dream of becoming an Olympian, finishing first in the 3-meter springboard at the U.S. trials in June. Women’s 3-meter springboard competition begins Friday, August 3. The United States has not medaled in the event since 1988.
Your parents are dive coaches so I suppose it was natural you’d try the sport. But what made you love it? And what made you so good at it?
Although I’ve been around the pool my whole life, diving was actually my second love. I was primarily a gymnast until I quit at 15 (although I always did a little diving on the side). I think the strength and aerial awareness I gained from gymnastics was a huge asset in diving. Beyond that, my parents and coaches really made it fun—I think it’s important to love what you do, and success follows.
You have to be pretty gutsy to take up diving. How did you deal with the backs slaps, belly flops and perhaps board knocks that a young diver has to go through? How big an obstacle was fear when you were learning?
I don’t ever remember feeling too much fear, maybe because I did my first dives when I was too young to know any better. I had my fair share of smacks growing up, but no matter how badly you hit the water, it’s still just water, it’s not going to kill you. Usually if I really bombed at something, it just made me want to try again and prove I could do it better.
Even today there’s an element of fear when trying a new dive for the first time, but we do so many lead-ups—simpler dives in the same direction, basically breaking the big new dive into smaller pieces and learning those well—that I generally feel ready and excited when the time comes. Above all else, I trust that my coach won’t ask me to do something new unless I’m physically ready to do it well.
Between your own dives, what do you do at a competition? How aware are you of what the other competitors are doing?
During long competitions, one round can last half an hour or more. Sitting and thinking about my next dive for that long makes me nervous, so I usually listen to music, focus on my breathing, do crossword puzzles or play games on my phone—anything to get my mind away from diving. I don’t usually pay attention to the scoreboard or watch the contest. Then, five to 10 minutes before my turn, I bring myself back into the competition mindset and start focusing on the next dive.
What kind of competition-day routines do you stick to?
I don’t have any particular rituals leading up to the competition, but I do follow a set routine during a contest. I spend five to 10 minutes [before each dive] getting warm (by jumping around or standing in a hot shower), checking in with my coach, and pantomiming my next dive on the ground. While the competitor before me is going, I visualize the perfect dive one last time. Then it’s go time.
At most meets I listen to a mix of my favorite songs—relaxed, calming music if I want to lower my anxiety, or more upbeat songs if I’m feeling good and want to stay in the same zone. Olympic trials was different: I felt like the song “Sail,” by AWOLNATION, really worked for me, so I listed to it through prelims, semifinals and finals.
Will you be listening to it at the Olympics to keep the streak going?
Probably. . . . Unless I find something I like better. I’m not really superstitious, but why change what works?
You came back to Stanford to train with head diving coach Rick Schavone, PhD ’79, who is headed to London as a coach with Team USA. How does it help to have your regular coach with you at the Games?
I think Rick’s the best coach in the country, and we've been on this journey together since my freshman year at Stanford in 2003, almost nine years. I’m the one that competes the dives, but he’s the one who really shaped them, correcting each dive, practice after practice. He knows exactly what to say during a competition or a training session to get the best out of me, and I’m really excited that we’re heading to London together.
What’s it like in those moments under the water when you really nail a dive? Can you hear the crowd?
It’s the greatest feeling in diving, better than coming out of the water and hearing the scores or even standing on the podium. I can sort of hear the crowd, but more importantly, I love the feeling that I just did exactly what I wanted to do. I got on the board and executed when it mattered.
What are your plans post-London?
I will retire from diving after the 2012 Olympics. It’s been an amazing journey and I’m still loving every minute, but I think it’s time to move on and experience something else in life. I’m excited for the next chapter, though I’m not sure exactly what that will be yet. I love writing, so I’m exploring careers in that direction.
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