Student Spotlight: Olympic Bronze Medalist Dives Into Physiology at CALS

Nick McCrory dives in the Olympics

Since he was six years old, Nick McCrory dreamed of being an Olympic diver.

In 2012, McCrory saw his dream come true, claiming a bronze medal at the London Olympics in ten-meter synchronized diving alongside diving partner David Boudia.

Now the five-time USA Diving national champion is tackling a new challenge: he’s a second-year graduate student in NC State University’s Physiology program, gearing up for his first round of medical school interviews.

Which is harder, training for the Olympics or training for medical school?

They’re both difficult, and they’re both very different – but there are definitely similarities. The diving is obviously more physically strenuous, but preparing for the Olympics is similar to preparing for med school in that it’s a goal that’s far off. You have to remain committed to it, even though in day-to-day life, you may feel like you’re not getting closer to your goal – but in the long run, you are. You have to trust in that.

What was it like competing at the Olympics?

It was a dream I’d had since I was six years old…I never really thought it would be possible until I was much older and realized that if I worked hard, I could maybe end up there. I remember arriving in London and it living up to every expectation I had – beautiful facilities, wonderful people. The Athlete’s Village was amazing, getting to talk to people from other sports and other countries, everyone wearing their country’s colors.

As far as the diving itself, I didn’t go in with the goal of needing to medal – I wanted to have the performance I know I’m capable of…I was very fortunate to come away with a bronze medal. Being able to do that was a really proud moment for me.

Olympic diver and Physiology Program graduate student Nick McCrory in front of Patterson Hall on NC State's campus.Do you still dive?

Not really. Knee injuries were a factor in the last four years of my diving career…it got to the point where they were too much to manage, and I wasn’t able to train as much as I needed to. I have other goals, so I moved on.

I started swimming with my brother [Paralympics medalist Lucas McCrory] just for fun. As for diving, I try to stay involved in the sport because I love it so much and coaching is a way to give back.

What medical specialty are you hoping to pursue?

I’ve always been interested in surgery, but I’m keeping an open mind.

What made you choose CALS?

The program has a lot of flexibility. I had some courses that I was really interested in taking, but mainly the interdisciplinary aspect of the program is what drew me here. This semester, I’m taking a neurobiology course, and a course on human and biomedical genetics. It’s a good program that focuses on your basic academics, which is was what I was looking for. It’s been a really supportive environment, with a lot of driven students.

Is there something you do in your spare time that might surprise people?

I’m a recent chicken owner. My dad and I built a chicken coop in the spring, and now we have seven chickens. Each chicken is a different breed. It’s a diverse flock. They just started laying in the past few weeks, and the eggs are great.

Best advice you ever got:

Always believe in yourself. I guess that’s a cliché, but it’s true. Because you never know what you’re capable of. You have to just try and give it everything you have and believe that it’s possible. I think you can write your future that way.

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