Cassidy Krug London 2012Cassidy Krug is a women's 3m springboard diver for Team USA. She placed 7th in the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Proud to Share My Experiences

September 17, 2012

Public speaking has never been my favorite activity, but I’ve made a point of accepting as many uniquely Olympic opportunities as possible in the last few months.  This is how I ended up sweating in the D.C. sun yesterday, being grilled by a six-year-old girl about my lack of Olympic medals:

Q: Did you win a gold medal? 

A: Nope… I was actually 7th.

Q: Did you win any medal?

A: Nope, just 7th.  No medal at this Games.

Q: Have you ever won any medal in your life?

 Cassidy Krug with a class
 

A few days ago, a local diving coach invited me to speak to his team during my visit to Washington, D.C., and after a little hemming and hawing, I said yes.  I remember how inspired I was by the Olympics when I was younger, so I saw this as an opportunity to give back to the diving community. Awkward questions from first graders aside, I really enjoyed the experience.  I fully believe that participating in diving and gymnastics as a kid taught me to work hard, set goals, and focus on success, and I was proud to share my experiences.

When I won Trials three months ago I had no idea what was in store.  I remember telling a 1988 team member that I couldn’t wait to go to the Games and be a real live Olympian.  He replied sternly, “You already are an Olympian.  And you will always be an Olympian.  No matter what happens, from now on, you will always be an Olympian.” I thought it was just semantics, but now it all makes sense.

I knew something was different moments after Trials.  I checked my phone five minutes after my last dive and was overwhelmed by congratulations messages from friends and family. I got emails and Facebook messages from my dentist, my kindergarten teacher, and my old gymnastics teammates.  It was a sign, right away, that the Olympics would be no normal competition.

 Cassidy Krug getting her photo taken with teammate
 

The media requests ramped up big time when I got back home to Stanford. My coach, a teammate and I drove to San Francisco after practice one afternoon to appear on a Bay Area sports program.  We were interviewed live at a pre-Olympic women’s water polo match.  During some practices, photographers ran from the platform to the stands and back, trying to get the perfect shot.  It was totally surreal. Diving is usually pretty under-the-radar, but suddenly, people wanted to tell our stories.

Life after the Olympics has been just as exciting. I addressed my old high school staff and faculty on the first day of school, wrote blog posts and articles about my Olympic experience, and of course spoke to a group of young divers yesterday.  Next weekend I’ll attend the annual Northern California Olympians dinner and the week after that I get to appear in a community parade in Pennsylvania.

I never thought I’d ever get a tattoo because they’re so permanent – there was nothing I could think of, before now, that I’d want to have on my body for the rest of my life. Now, the question is not whether I’ll get the rings tattoo – it’s where.  The Olympics is a life-altering experience, medals or no medals, and I’ll be proud to keep these memories – and my identity as an Olympian – forever.  

 

Hugs from the First Lady, a Handshake from the Vice President and a "Photobama"

September 14, 2012

Krug Obama photo

I have to admit, I’ve spent most of the past week trying to get people to ask me what I’m doing this weekend.  

“What are you up to on Friday?”

“Oh, I’m going to D.C.”

“What for?”

“To meet the President.”

Who ever gets to say that?  Who ever gets to do that?  “Oh, no biggie, I’m just hopping on a plane to Dulles to meet the leader of the free world.”

The Olympic journey has been full of experiences like this – major pinch-me moments. There was, of course, the event itself.  I watched my first Olympics when I was three, and ever since then I’ve dreamed  of making the team.  Nothing compares to standing on the diving board, getting ready to do what you do best in the competition that matters most.  

But it goes beyond just competing.  As an Olympian I got to watch teammates and close friends reach the podium.  My high school invited me to speak to the faculty.  Next month I’m going to ride in a convertible in a parade.  This is definitely not real life.

As my coach, Rick, put it, I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve used the word “surreal” in the past two months.

Today’s White House visit was definitely surreal.  It was awesome seeing all my USA ’12 teammates again, but one thing I loved was getting to meet some of the Paralympic athletes for the first time.  I sat with Paralympic swimmers on the bus this morning and was blown away by their accomplishments. The guy next to me (Brad Snyder ... Google him; he’s a baller) lost his sight last year serving in Afghanistan.  This year he won two gold medals in the 100 and 400 meter freestyle.  Seriously, why don’t they show more of the Paralympics on TV?

When we got to the White House we went through a few layers of security before making our way to the South Lawn. All of the athletes (I think there were about 400 of us total) piled onto the bleachers behind the podium by sport.  Then the President, First Lady, and Vice President walked in and made their remarks. It was surreal (five cents) to hear the President of the United States of America talk about watching the Olympics on TV.  I can’t believe how lucky we are to have an entire nation rooting for us every four years. 

 Krug and Obama
 My "photobama"

After the speeches, President Obama, Michelle Obama, and Vice President Biden took the time to greet every athlete and coach there.   I got to hug Michelle, shake Biden’s hand and take a photo with the President. (Well ... to be honest I “photobama’d” him.  Heh.)   Then we toured the White House.  For me, that included a 10-minute phone-charging break in the Red Room.

All in all, today highlighted how special the entire Olympic experience is.  I feel grateful to compete for a country as supportive as the United States, and proud to call the people I’ve met on this journey teammates.