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Krug's quest takes unusual path to Olympics

| Wednesday, June 27, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Cassidy Krug dives in the women's 3-meter springboard final at the U.S. Olympic diving trials on Saturday, June 23, 2012, in Federal Way, Wash. Krug won the event. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
Cassidy Krug dives in the women's 3-meter springboard final at the U.S. Olympic diving trials on Saturday, June 23, 2012, in Federal Way, Wash. Krug won the event. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
Cassidy Krug watches her scores as they are posted after her final dive in the women's 3-meter springboard final at the U.S. Olympic diving trials on Saturday, June 23, 2012, in Federal Way, Wash. Krug won the event. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
Cassidy Krug watches her scores as they are posted after her final dive in the women's 3-meter springboard final at the U.S. Olympic diving trials on Saturday, June 23, 2012, in Federal Way, Wash. Krug won the event. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
Cassidy Krug waves after winning the women's 3-meter springboard final at the U.S. Olympic diving trials on Saturday, June 23, 2012, in Federal Way, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
Cassidy Krug waves after winning the women's 3-meter springboard final at the U.S. Olympic diving trials on Saturday, June 23, 2012, in Federal Way, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
Cassidy Krug dives in the women's 3-meter springboard final at the U.S. Olympic diving trials on Saturday, June 23, 2012, in Federal Way, Wash. Krug won the event. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
Cassidy Krug dives in the women's 3-meter springboard final at the U.S. Olympic diving trials on Saturday, June 23, 2012, in Federal Way, Wash. Krug won the event. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Thirsty for coffee at the London Games? Don't ask diver Cassidy Krug.

This time, the 2003 Montour graduate has something more important to do.

Like compete.

Eight years removed from traveling to the 2004 Athens Games as a runner — specializing in beverage service, faxing documents and stocking the food pantry — Krug punched her ticket to London on Saturday by winning the 3-meter title at the U.S. diving trials in Federal Way, Wash.

“Everybody says the Olympics are just another meet,” Krug said. “But it's totally different. More crowds. Bigger venue. Bigger stage. More excitement. More buzz. More everything. Having been in that atmosphere and having seen that first-hand, I think that's going to help a lot.”

Just in case she needs a reminder, Krug need not travel far for advice: Her father, Julian, is the diving coach at Pitt; her mother, Doe, coaches alongside her husband with the Pitt Aquatic Club; both will travel to London and help with the television broadcast of diving events, the sixth consecutive Games they've done that together.

Diving has shaped her parents' relationship, sure, but Julian and Doe always have taken a laissez-faire approach with Cassidy, never wanting to force her into a set of clothes that didn't fit. Figure, Cassidy was a gymnast until she was 15.

“Very simply, you enjoy the ride,” Julian Krug said. “What's the enjoyment in feeling pushed and pressured? Pressure goes with it; if you want to perform on that level there's plenty of pressure sitting there already, but you don't need it added. She's been motivated all along because she wants to be very good at what she does.”

The path Krug took to making her first Olympic team wasn't exactly well-traveled. Doubtful, really, whether anyone had ever been on it before.

An 11-time national champion at Stanford, Krug's 2004 Trials bid ended with an eighth-place thud. Same for 2008, though a pair of bulging discs six months prior didn't help.

In fact, things got so bad that Krug planned on retiring after 2008, content to continue her job as a marketing coordinator with the Stanford Alumni Association. But much like her competition, that idea didn't stand much of a chance; within a year, the Coraopolis native came out of retirement — at 23.

“I knew that if I didn't come back then, I never would,” said Krug, who lives in Palo Alto, Calif. “I debated a little bit, but as soon as I got back in the water, I knew it was the right decision.”

She resumed training with Stanford diving coach Dr. Rick Schavone and came back with a renewed enthusiasm.

Oh, and a focus on not missing her goal for a third consecutive time.

Leading up to the trials, Krug and Schavone worked extensively on her entry into the water. Some days, they'd start with nothing but an hour of falling forward off the board, repeated until Krug fell into the water without a splash.

They also talked a lot about consistency.

“I knew I could hit a dive for 9s once out of five times, but you want to be able to do that on cue, all the time,” said Krug, who averaged 364.95 points per round at the trials — more than Schavone, a 31-year veteran with countless national and international ties, thinks Cassidy will need to net Olympic gold. “There was a lot of work mentally to be able to focus on the right things and let everything else go.”

That's not how Schavone saw it. At least not until Saturday.

“We were struggling with consistency, but I can honestly say, from the minute she got off the plane in Seattle, I saw none of that,” Schavone said. “Her practices kept getting better; heck, the two practices before the finals were better than the finals.

“Most of the country knows she has the ability to dive like that; she just never put everything together.”

Until Saturday, of course.

Jason Mackey is a freelance writer.

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