Members of the Watertown Family Y can aspire to Olympic heights with Cassandra C. Metzler as the new wellness director at the organization's Fairgrounds location.
Mrs. Metzler, originally from Albany, competed in synchronized diving during the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
She started out in gymnastics before a trip to a diving camp between sixth and seventh grades started her off on an irreversible journey toward the pool.
She was recruited for diving at Indiana University, where her abilities attracted the attention of prominent Indiana University diving coach Jeffrey J. Huber.
“He was always looking for on-top talent — people that are out there that have the ability to do great in the sport, they just haven't maybe had the right coaching or the right direction,” Mrs. Metzler said.
Mr. Huber has strong connections with USA Diving and the U.S. Olympic Committee.
“He told me, 'You know you could make the Olympics,' and, no joke, I just laughed,” she said.
After spending countless hours on the platform, in the pool, reviewing videotapes of practice sessions and mentally preparing for competition, Mrs. Metzler said, she was speechless when she found out she had made the cut.
A month and a half later, she was in Athens.
Mrs. Metzler said she still hasn't quite found a good way to describe her experience to people who haven't had the opportunity to see it firsthand.
“It's just a really, really amazing experience. Everyone is in great spirits, there's no hostility, and it's just really cool,” she said.
She and her diving partner, Sara Hildebrand, competed early during the games.
“I was the most mentally prepared for that meet than anything else in my entire career,” Mrs. Metzler said.
The pair finished in seventh place.
“I loved every moment of it,” Mrs. Metzler said. “I have no regrets about anything. Of course, we would have liked to have done better … you always want to come home with some kind of medal, but it is what it is. I try to put it in perspective. Even though the Olympics is a huge milestone in any athlete's career, I've had some other amazing successes in my life.”
After Athens, Mrs. Metzler set her sights on the 2008 games. Unfortunately, this time she finished third in the trials and didn't make the team. She decided to retire, ending on a high note by winning the 10m platform at the U.S. Nationals, beating out the first- and second-place Olympic trials finishers.
Retirement allowed her to begin a professional career and allowed her then-boyfriend, Brian L. Metzler, now her husband, to pursue his dream of being an Army flight officer.
Following a three-year long-distance relationship, the couple married in 2010 and landed in Watertown.
“We were trying to think long term. We both wanted to make sure that we were doing what we wanted to do in life so that 20 or 30 years down the road, we don't have any regrets,” Mrs. Metzler said.
Mrs. Metzler became a personal trainer and began working at the Y in December 2011. She works with the women's dive team at Watertown High School, volunteers with the USO and is involved with USA Diving and the Olympic Committee.
“I've really been focusing this last year on how I can give back,” she said.
As the wellness director at the Y, Mrs. Metzler does a bit of everything: personal training, teaching classes, health consultations and reaching out to new and prospective members.
“The Y has so many opportunities for people to be active in their life, but a lot of times people aren't really aware of the magnitude of what we have,” she said.