University of Pittsburgh Diving Coach Julian Krug had a summer he will never forget in 2012. The 40-year coaching veteran got to watch his star pupil, his daughter Cassidy, compete in the Summer Olympics in London while he and his wife Dorothy worked on the television broadcast team for NBC for the 6th and 8th times, respectively.
“We’ve been exposed to international competition all our lives,” Coach Krug said, “but watching [Cassidy] dive was a different experience.” Krug, who was an excellent diver in his own right, watched his daughter win the US Olympic Trials and finish seventh in the 3-meter springboard in London after completing a wildly successful collegiate career at Stanford.
Coach Krug has seen the evolution of the sport over his long career, as well. At the top levels of competition in the sport “the dives are becoming much tougher to land. Women are doing far more difficult dives than we ever imagined. In 20-25 years, I expect the women’s dive lists to be just like the men’s list is now.” This coming from the former NCAA All-American who completed the first ever forward 5½ somersault off a 10-meter platform.
This winter, though, Coach Krug is concentrating on his job as the Head Diving Coach for the Pitt Swim and Dive team, where he’s been a mainstay for 34 years. In their last season in the Big East, the Panthers men’s and women’s teams are 2-2 (1-1 in Conference), with both losses coming against nationally ranked opponents. With the nearly the entire team returning from last season, Krug’s divers are performing at a higher level than last year, something he takes pride in, even as the sport and program are changing. With platform diving becoming an NCAA scoring event after being an exhibition event last year, Krug will be focusing on “much more serious platform training.” This big change also comes as the program is preparing to enter the ACC next season.
On his Pitt coaching profile, Krug’s coaching philosophy is laid out: “I believe that if you train hard with a positive attitude, winning will take care of itself. When we bring divers to Pitt, we expect them to better themselves every season.” He expanded on that, saying, “My philosophy is simply for each individual to maximize what they’re capable of mentally and physically, that’s how they can be successful regardless of where they finish.” He said he’s just as proud of a diver with limited talent performing to the best of his or her ability as he is with a top-level diver maximizing his or her potential. “Each person has unique gifts, my goal is accommodating and working with their gifts if they’re willing to work. All the top divers in all the programs have one thing in common: they all worked harder than anyone else.”
This winter, the Women’s team has been led by Sophomore Angelika McGhee (West Chester, Pa.) and Leigh Waltz (Red Lion, Pa.). Both divers finaled in one event at the Big East Championships last year, and Krug expects them to do better this year than a year ago.
The Men’s team has been led by Senior Erik Moore, Junior Aaron Snyder (West Chester, Pa.) and Sophomore Harris Bergman (Yardley, Pa.). “Erik, our only senior, is a cleaner, better diver than last year,” Krug explained. Aaron Snyder, who recently completed an inward 3½ somersault, “is getting stronger, steadier.” He is especially proud of how Bergman has progressed, though.
“Harry is continuing to come on from last year. He was one dive from winning the Big East [he finished 4th]. For the first 2-3 weeks, he did nothing right. I told him I didn’t think I could help him, but he wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. He kept working and has become a very respectable diver. I love to be proven wrong.”
Even as Krug is looking for new recruits for next season with the raw physical talent and hunger to be top NCAA divers, he also said that this year’s freshman class was the last class he was promising to see graduate. At age 66, “I’m going to have to retire sooner or later. How do you want to remember your coaching career? How you finished it.”
When he does retire, the former US National Team coach and 6-time Big East Coach of the Year will have developed 3 Olympians and numerous All American and All Conference divers, among his many accomplishments. For the man who has accomplished everything, he leaves quite a legacy to be remembered.