Student Spotlight / Jeff Cragg

Jeff Cragg, Penn diver  Photo credit: Mark Stehle

FISH IN WATER: Jeff Cragg, a sophomore in the Wharton School, has been jumping off diving boards since he was about 2 years old—and continues to jump off of them today. A diver on Penn’s swimming team, Cragg reached a personal milestone earlier this year when he broke multiple school and pool records in a meet against West Chester University. “That’s been my goal since I got here,” he says.

IN THE FAMILY: Cragg’s accomplishment held special significance, since he just happened to be breaking the 1972 school record previously set by his father and current diving coach, Rob Cragg. “It was a perfect meet because my dad had the previous two school records for 1-meter and 3-meter. I really wanted to break the 1-meter but not the 3-meter so I could have both names up at once,” says Jeff. “I’ll take the 3-meter record down later, but I thought it would be really cool to have both names up at once.”

HIS DAD’S THOUGHTS?: Cragg says his dad was thrilled to see his son break one of his records. “He was happier than I was. He’s always wanted to see me break them.” Cragg adds that he managed to get his score within the 10-point window that allowed him to break the pool’s 3-meter record without also breaking his dad’s 3-meter school record.

DAD AS COACH: Cragg’s dad has always been his coach, so the father-coach dynamic isn’t new water for Jeff to tread. “We’ve always talked about the difference between the father relationship and the coaching relationship and trying to keep it separate and I think we’ve done a pretty good job at it,” Cragg says. “Obviously the father bleeds into the coach a little bit, and the coach is definitely there at home at times.”

BUILT FOR THE SPORT: While Cragg says he has also been a swimmer, diving has always appealed to him more. Diving seemed to be in his blood from an early age—Cragg remembers before he was even old enough to jump off a board, he was doing flips on the couch. “I’ve always been kind of a wild child,” he says. “I just grew up at the swim club. Everyone wanted to do swimming, but I wanted to do diving. I was also pretty short, so the swimming thing didn’t work out for me.”

STRESS RELEASE, SOMETIMES: As a Wharton student, Cragg’s days get pretty busy. Practice is time-consuming, too, usually averaging two hours a day. Besides pool work, the team runs up and down the stadium steps at Franklin Field to keep in shape. There are times when Cragg says he enjoys the chance to do something physical and take a break from his studying, but at other times, it can add to his stress. “It goes both ways,” he says.

BIGGER POND?: Cragg’s dad actually spent four-and-a-half years as a student at Penn because he participated in global meets during his senior year. While Jeff Cragg isn’t ruling it out, he’s not sure that level of competition is for him. First, he says, he’s got to figure out what to concentrate in at Wharton.

Originally published on May 6, 2010