LONDON -- Cassidy Krug had competed against many of the other women in the 3-meter springboard Olympic diving event numerous times. She once dived inside the Aquatics Centre at Olympic Park, too.
Yet, because this was called "the Olympics," and because those five interlocked rings were splashed all over the arena, Friday's preliminary round felt like an experience for which nothing could have prepared her.
"The Olympics is what we dream for," said Krug, 27, a native of Kennedy Township and a graduate of Montour High. "Every four years, it's the biggest meet there is. Everyone brings their A-game. There's a lot more hype involved."
Krug did not have her A-game. But she managed to finish 10th out of 30 divers with a five-dive total of 320.10, which was good enough to advance her to today's semifinals along with 17 others.
Krug believes she has what it takes to medal, and the good news is that scores are not cumulative during the three-day event. She will begin the semifinals with a clean slate, and needs to be in the top 12 to qualify for Sunday's final. She could hold her current position and accomplish that, but she didn't come all this way because she's happy with the status quo.
"I'm so ready to go out and do it better next time," Krug said.
"There were some butterflies. There's definitely heart racing. But I think I calmed down during the contest. I know my dives. I know what I'm doing."
She certainly should. Krug, pronounced Kroog, has been around the pool since before she could walk. Her parents, Julian and Doe Krug, run the Pitt Aquatic Club diving program at Trees Pool on the Pitt campus, where Julian has been coaching divers for 33 years. Cassidy fully committed herself to diving during high school, and she earned a scholarship to Stanford, where she won the first of her 10 national championships.
Julian and Doe are in London, working with NBC diving telecasts as they have since the 1992 Olympics. They haven't had much contact with Cassidy, but she knows they are proudly watching. Julian was a top college diver, but he never made it to the Olympics.
Cassidy is an inward type, and she is absorbing every moment of London by writing about it in her journal.
An English major, she's been forcing herself to write 750 words a night to keep her prose sharp. She hopes to one day write a novel.
Krug and the rest of the field are facing two remarkable Chinese divers. Minxia Wu led the prelims with a 387.95, and Zi He followed her with a 363.85 -- 14.05 points ahead of third-place Tania Cagnotto of Italy. American Christina Loukas, who lost to Krug in U.S. trials, finished seventh with 330.45.
Krug knew the Chinese women would be tough to beat coming in, and Friday only confirmed it.
"They're fantastic," Krug said. "Their dives are beautiful."
Krug will bring the same five dives to the semifinals and perform them in the same order. She just has to straighten a few things out and dive at her highest level, and she'll be content no matter where that puts her in the standings.
To her, this trip to London has been about more than just diving.
"These are moments that I may never get a chance to experience again," Krug said. "These are amazing, amazing moments. This whole last two weeks and this coming week, I'm trying to retain and remember and live as much as I can."olympics
J. Brady McCollough: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @BradyMcCollough.