Aug. 20, 2010
STANFORD, Calif. -
During an ultimately unsuccessful run to the 2008 Olympics, former Stanford diving star Cassidy Krug maintained a blog with the poetically appropriate title of "Falling with Style."
Since before she can remember, Krug has done so indeed. She won three NCAA titles while at Stanford and, a week ago, captured national championships in the three-meter individual and three-meter synchronized events in College Station, Texas, to complete a comeback from ... well ... retirement.
Cassidy Krug thought she could say goodbye, but a lifetime of tugging from the direction of the pool made her realize the decision was premature.
Still, her brief time away from diving did change her perspective on a sport that has its origins deep in her gene pool. Though it wouldn't be fair to say it "rekindled" a passion for the sport, perhaps it did place greater value on every minute of training, and a greater appreciation for simply being able to do it day after day.
Now, the run to London 2012 is officially a Krug farewell tour - not only farewell to competition, but farewell to the quest for perfection. For Krug, it's the journey all right. But it's a journey with an end goal: to be the best.
Cassidy is the daughter of Julian Krug, the head diving coach at University of Pittsburgh, where he has been for 32 years, and Dorothy Krug, her high school diving coach. Both coached her throughout her youth at the Pitt Aquatic Club and, legend has it, took her to her first diving meet at one-week old.
"I believe that if you train hard with a positive attitude, winning will take care of itself," said Julian Krug, in his Pitt coaching bio.
Cassidy continues to follow that creed, though it took a year away from the sport to fully understand it.
"After graduation, I devoted myself 100 percent to making the 2008 Olympic team," said Cassidy, a 2007 graduate in English. "Not making it was hard, and after the Trials, I was burned out."
Krug returned to Stanford from The Woodlands, Texas, where she had been training, and took a job with the Stanford Alumni Association.
However, "retirement" came with a Brett Favre tone. In the back of her mind, Krug realized that she would be working only a couple of hundred yards from the Avery Aquatic Center and her Stanford coach, Dr. Rick Schavone. Sure enough, six months later, "I realized there was something major missing in my life."
The origin of Krug's frustration came from the obvious source - that diving was part of her soul and couldn't be so easily discarded - and from one not so obvious - that she had yet to reach her potential.
"I felt I was still getting better," she said. "And I wanted to see what would happen if I came back. It was very much `now or never.'"
Krug talked to Schavone about smoothing out the difficulties that made diving difficult and doing a better job of appreciating what she loved.
The result: "It's a lot easier than I thought it would be, and more fun than I expected. I've seen real life. Now, I really know that I'm doing it because I want to."
Krug calls going to the pool each day "a gift." But her good feelings are secondary to a supreme drive to win, to perfect old dives, learn new ones, grow in confidence, be more consistent, and "just get better."
"I do love the sport," Krug said. "And I do have the right attitude. But I know why I'm doing this - to go to the Olympics and medal."
"Falling with Style" gave Krug more than an opportunity to reveal the creativity behind her daily journals and poetry that remain unpublished and for only her eyes to read. It offered a glimpse into the ground covered on the daily journey.
Principle No. 1: Focus on perfection
"Good enough isn't good enough," Krug said. "Anytime I want to relax and get lazy, and maintain where I am, I miss an opportunity to get better."
Principle No. 2: Leave all my fears behind
"I really want to focus on the competition, not on what can go wrong."
Principle No. 3: Own every moment
"This relates to why I came back to diving. I want to appreciate every moment I do this."
Principle No. 4: Stay sane
"When all you do every day is practice and sit at home and worry about practice, remember that you're just diving. You've got to work to keep that perspective."
Principle No. 5: Keep my toes pointed
"One of the basic principles of diving."
Another principle: Cassidy Krug is back.
-- David Kiefer, Stanford Athletics