Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 3
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
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(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletic Media Relations)

TERRAPIN STATION: Victoria Cassidy flies through the water in a recent race for the University of Maryland women’s swim team. Former Princeton High standout Cassidy has emerged as a solid performer in her freshman campaign for the Terrapins.

Former PHS Swimming Standout Cassidy Making Waves for Maryland Women’s Team

Bill Alden

Like many star swimmers, Victoria Cassidy led a double life during her high school years.

The Cranbury resident distinguished herself as one of the best swimmers in the history of the Princeton High girls’ swimming program, culminating her career in style last winter by leading the Little Tigers to the Public B Central Jersey sectional title.

The versatile Cassidy starred in the freestyle, individual medley, and the backstroke in addition to anchoring many a winning relay. She won the 400 free in a record-breaking time of 4:26.19 at the county meet and went on to earn High School All-American honors in the 500 free.

At the same time, Cassidy continued to compete for the elite Eastern Express swim club, which she joined as a 13-year-old. She was also a force at the club level, qualifying for the nationals in the 400 IM, 200 IM, and 200 back.

In Cassidy’s view, wearing two hats was a major plus now that she is on just one squad as a freshman competing for the University of Maryland w’s swimming team.

“High school swimming was a lot different from club,” said Cassidy. “It really helped me prepare for college because there is such a focus on the team aspect and working hard for the team. I traveled a lot for Eastern Express, I had meets in Minnesota, Georgia, California, and Indiana. I saw a lot of different places; the traveling helped prepare me for college too.”

Cassidy is going places for Maryland, having already established herself as a solid performer for the Terrapins in the distance freestyle events and the IM. She made a splash in the Terps’ first regular season meet against N.C. State this past October taking second in both the 500 and 1,000 free.

“It was so exciting and thrilling,” said Cassidy, reflecting on her college debut.

“I swam in four races and I didn’t care which. I had no say and I just wanted to help the team. I’t usually swim the 1,000; to get second in that really helped my confidence.”

Thriving in Maryland’s intense training regimen helped give Cassidy confidence as she began regular season competition.

“It is definitely a lot of training,” said Cassidy, who is the second PHS star to compete for Maryland in recent years with Little Tiger alum Nina Rossi having finished her Terp career last winter.

“I am doing weight lifting and I never did that before. It is really helping. We do double sessions in the pool three days a week and weight training three days a week. It is definitely an adjustment. You have to juggle things with classes. We have study hall eight hours a week. There is no time to fool around; you always have to get your work done.”

Cassidy’s involvement in swimming took a serious turn when she began competing year-round with the high-powered Eastern Express club, which holds practices at the College of New Jersey and at Princeton University.

“I think when I switched to Eastern Express I realized that this is something that I really want to do,” recalled Cassidy, who started swimming competitively at age six when she joined the Cranbury Swim Club and raced in the Princeton-Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) summer meets. “Express is competitive; it takes a lot of time and energy. There is a lot of driving around.”

Joining Eastern Express helped put Cassidy on the road to college swimming.

“When I was 13 or 14, I started thinking about swimming in college,” said Cassidy. “I just thought it was something I would do. I didn’t realize how hard it is.”

Making the decision to join Maryland’s program, though, ’t hard for Cassidy.

“I took official trips to Clemson and William and Mary; I also visited Duke and North Carolina,” said Cassidy.

“I felt Maryland was a good fit. The facilities are beautiful; I was amazed at how great they were. The team was great, I felt similar to the other girls. The coaches were supportive.”

Cassidy’s comfort level at school has inspired her to give her all for the Terps.

“It is hard; you don’t rest for meets like in high school,” explained Cassidy, who posted a win in the 400 IM against North Carolina in her third college meet. “You train hard all week and then you have to race hard on the weekends. You are sore; I have gotten used to that.”

Cassidy is looking to race well in the upcoming Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) championship meet which is being held from February 16-19 in Atlanta.

“I want to be in the top eight in all my events at the ACCs,” said Cassidy, who will likely be competing in the 400 IM, 500 free, and 200 back. “The team was fourth last year. We want to move up to third this time.”

The precocious freshman also has her eye on the national stage. “I am also looking at the NCAA meet; I have made B cuts in two events,” said Cassidy, noting that making a B cut could get a swimmer invited to the meet while achieving an; A’ cut constitutes an automatic qualification for the competition.

“I am not as close as I would like to be to the A cut. I know I am just a freshman and will be getting better.”

No matter when she ultimately competes in the NCAA meet, Cassidy wouldn’t trade her current life for anything.

“It is something you have to love with the amount of time and work we put it,” said Cassidy, who spends about 20 hours a week on swimming. “We did seven miles in workout this morning. It has been really good, I am glad I came here.”

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