Stanford divers could be
on board for medals
Ipsen, Krug hope to make the most of their first Olympic Games
Stanford grad Cassidy Krug grew up with parents who were both diving coaches but she preferred gymnastics. Diving was something fun to do, until she arrived at Stanford.
Cardinal sophomore Kristian Ipsen was already a world-class diver when he arrived at Stanford. He also enjoys gymnastics, though as a spectator.
Krug was a late-bloomer; Ipsen developed fast, and both have several things in common. In addition to each winning an NCAA title, Krug and Ipsen will be competing in the 2012 London Olympic Games for the United States after winning events at the Olympic Trials earlier this month.
"My parents instilled my love of the sport but I never felt any pressure," said Krug, who competes in the 3-meter event. "They were supportive of my involvement in gymnastics. My dad did not even try to recruit me (for diving at the University of Pittsburgh). Diving was a gradual process."
It wasn't until she arrived at Stanford and began working with coach Dr. Rick Schavone that she started dreaming large.
"(Schavone) made my Olympic dreams a possibility," she said. "He gave me the goal."
Krug competed in both gymnastics and diving until she was 15. That's when she made the decision to concentrate on diving.
"I was improving more as a diver," she said.
Krug seemingly came out of nowhere to win her NCAA title. Schavone said the talent was always there.
"You would always see glimpses of her greatness. The question was could she put it all together?" he said. "She came to the sport relatively late and hadn't put a whole list together."
Krug dived at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Trials, qualifying "at the last possible moment" in 2004 and somehow reaching the finals after entering the semifinals in ninth place. She had just completed her freshman year at Stanford.
"I had improved so much in one year," Krug said. "I never really plateaued, I just steadily improved."
In 2008, she underwent surgery that set her back. She gave herself the year after graduating to see where she could go in diving. After the trials she retired, sort of.
"In the back of my mind, it wasn't a real retirement," she said.
Less than a year later she was back in the pool. What started as an Olympic gymnastics dream became Olympic diving reality.
"It's amazing," Krug said. "It's still a little surreal. I've been dreaming of this since I was three and now I'm living it. I get the opportunity to go to London and compete at the biggest meet in the world."
Most observers felt Ipsen would reach the Olympics at some point. He made it in the 3-meter synchro event with veteran Olympian Troy Dumais. He nearly made it in an individual event, as well.
'I missed one dive and it cost me a spot in the Olympic team," Ipsen said of the individual 3-meter competition, one of the closest in U.S. history as less than two points separated the top three divers. "It was the best preliminary I've had in along time. Overall it was a good list and I'm happy I came back with a good dive to end it."
Ipsen has been diving since he was six years old. He grew up in Walnut Creek and attended De La Salle High. He teamed with Dumais three years ago to win the 3-meter synchro event at the FINA World Championships in Rome and they have been successful ever since.
"I've learned a lot from him," Ipsen said of his diving partner. "He was a lot older and had been to the Olympics and that was my first international competition. He helped me deal with nerves."
Like Krug, he competed in a test event in London. The facilities won't be so overwhelming this trip.
"He's a great diver, period," Schavone said. "He's one of the top five divers of all time and a genius of a twister. He does that was well now as he did when he was eight years old. He hasn't been over-trained."
Ipsen and Dumais took a big lead into the finals of the Olympic Trials and still dived well enough to increase that lead. Ipsen said it felt like the best they had ever done.
"The 'if's' were gone after that final dive," Ipsen said. "It was a great feeling."
And having a teammate?
"I enjoy the team aspect," Ipsen said. "We can definitely help each other."
Sharing gold in London also would be nice.