By Katharine Morgan CONTRIBUTING WRITER
---- — Anyone who saw Cassidy Griger swim at Cooperstown or at the Clark Sports Center believed that she would continue to have success in college.
Now Griger has proven her supporters right.
Griger, a 2012 CCS graduate and a sophomore at New Paltz, was selected to the All-SUNYAC second team this year thanks to her third place conference finish in the 200 freestyle, (1:54.49) last month in Buffalo.
She also placed fourth in the 100 freestyle (53.65) and sixth in the 200 individual medley, (2:11.77).
The Grigers are a swimming family. Her sisters, Delilah, Tessa and Eden all swim, and her mother Kristen, who swam in high school and college, currently coaches the Sharks at the Clark.
Griger still hold several many records for the Sharks, the Clark pool and at CCS, including the high school’s records in the 200 and 500 freestyle. But even her college coach said that she had gotten better at the next level.
“We thought when we recruited her, she would, at best, place 15th in States, but she shaved some crucial seconds off her time and she placed third,” says Scott Whitman, her New Paltz coach. “Cassidy dropped a lot of time physically, she’s in the best shape, and her technique is probably the best of anyone I’ve ever coached. She’s done very well here. I’m just really excited to have her here for the next two years because I think she has a very bright future.
“Cassidy’s times were competitive to be part of the team, but certainly, she has improved dramatically in the past two years, going from somebody who we thought would be in the middle of the pack in our program to being one of the top two or three swimmers we have,” he continued. “She’s someone who has true potential to compete and qualify for nationals in her final couple of years here as a swimmer. I really felt like Cassidy was ready to take the next step to nationals this year. She didn’t quite make it, but she got close, and I think within a year or two she has the potential to be an All American.”
Since Griger is the oldest of four sisters who swim, Whitman said that he will look to recruit them as well.
Griger said that her dramatic improvement has to do with more intense training in college. “I swam on the club team and the high school team in Cooperstown, but here, the training is much harder,” she said.
She said the team practices about 20 hours a week, and that’s not counting the 12 hour meet days.
“We do abs with a strength and conditioning coach, and weight training,” she said. “Off season we try to do different cardio, running as well as swimming. I’m definitely in the best shape I’ve ever been in during a season.”
Between school, where she is majoring in biology with an interest in pursuing a career in health care, and all the training, Griger said she doesn’t have a lot of free time. “Luckily my teammates are all my best friends,” she said. “We have a great time together.”
Although Griger said that being all conference was an honor, she does lament how close she came to moving on, adding that the time commitment is worth it since she has yet to achieve her goals.
“I’m looking forward to competing next year,” she said. “Qualifying for nationals is my ultimate goal. I was so close this year.”
Cooperstown girls swim coach Katy Hasely said she wasn’t surprised by Griger’s success at New Paltz.
“I knew Cassidy had the potential to excel at a college level,” Haseley said. “She has absolutely blossomed with the intense level of training.”
Griger’s other coach, her mom, said she was also not surprised.
“It’s been great to watch Cassidy develop as an athlete,” she said. “She really has pushed herself dramatically at New Paltz.”
Both women point out that Griger didn’t have a lot of competition in high school, and had to rely mostly upon herself to progress.
This summer, Griger will be home, doing some open-water training in Otsego Lake.
“I just dive off the dock on the lake front and swim out one half a mile or so, then back,” she said.