FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- Cassidy Krug quit diving after finishing eighth on the 3-meter springboard at the U.S. trials four years ago.
She's back in a big way.
Krug, 26, daughter of two diving coaches, was in first place Tuesday with 359.40 points in the five-round preliminary session.
"Prelims are tough and I haven't always been good in them," said Krug, who was fourth after her first dive before taking over the lead for good.
Having been around the sport her entire life because her parents coach at Pitt and club levels, Krug, who went to Montour High School then Stanford, gave it up for a year before returning in 2010. She has come on strong since, winning four national springboard titles, including this winter nationals earlier this year.
Christina Loukas, a 2008 Olympian whose family owns the popular Cubby Bear Lounge near Wrigley Field in Chicago, was second at 321.85. She finished fourth on springboard at the world championships a year ago in Shanghai, the best finish by an American woman at the meet since 1994, and was ninth in Beijing.
Loukas' takeoff on her second dive wasn't good and she earned her lowest scores. But she rebounded from sixth place at the start to put herself in position to challenge Krug in the next round.
"I know I didn't really hit anything, so I'll be able to in the semis," she said. "Prelims is a pretty hard event, just the pressure of the whole meet."
The top 18 divers advanced to the semifinals at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center, south of Seattle.
Bianca Alvarez was third at 312.50, followed by Kassidy Cook at 300.15 and Abby Johnston in fifth at 293.60. Kelci Bryant, a 2008 Olympian, was eighth.
Krug finished strongly, earning her highest score of 76.50 for a 2 1/2 somersault with one twist.
"I've done the work and I'm ready,'" she said. "I need to set my environment and let it come out."
Ariel Rittenhouse, who teamed with Bryant to finish fourth in 3-meter synchro at the Beijing Olympics, finished 31st and last. She struggled throughout the round, aborting an incorrect dive in the third round and hitting the water with a thud in the fourth round. She took time off after Beijing and transferred colleges before settling at Florida State.
Troy Dumais and Kristian Ipsen took control over the final two rounds and built a 27.33-point lead Monday night in 3-meter synchro.
Dumais is trying to join Greg Louganis as the only American man to make four Olympic teams. He and Ipsen totaled 876.00 points through the preliminaries and semifinals to advance to Friday's final.
Chris Colwill, a 2008 Olympian, and Drew Livingston settled for second at 849.33 after edging Dumais and Ipsen in the prelims.
"I don't think anybody gave us any chance in this event, but we had two good lists," Livingston said. "We've underperformed at nationals. These guys (Dumais and Ipsen) have world experience."