Krug, Loukas 1-2 in 3-meter prelims at U.S. trials

FEDERAL WAY — 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.

The 26-year-old daughter of two diving coaches from Pittsburgh was in first place on Tuesday with 359.40 points during 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 the university and club levels, Krug gave it up for a year before returning in 2010. She’s come on strong since, winning four national springboard titles, including this year’s winter nationals.

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 last year’s world championships 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 evening 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 2½ 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.

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