Maya DiRado was born on April 5, 1993 in San Francisco, Calif. to parents, Marit and Ruben. Her full name is Madeline, but her sister, Sarah, gave birth to “Maya” when she couldn’t properly pronounce it. The versatile swimmer began competing at the age of 6 with the Santa Rosa Neptunes. She quickly became a standout, setting team records in every age group and in events ranging from the 50 free to the 200 back to the 400 IM.
High school swimming
DiRado attended Maria Carrillo High School. She was a three-time California high school state champion in the 200 yard IM, crushing the state record in 2010 (her senior year) with a time of 1:56.17. With that time, DiRado became the fastest 200 IMer in California high school history. DiRado was also the 2010 California state champion in the 100 yard free.
An accomplished athlete, but also an outstanding scholar that scored a perfect score on the Math SAT at 15 years old. She graduated high school and began college at 17 year olds.
The Santa Rosa native chose to attend Stanford University in nearby Palo Alto for her college swimming career, joining a long line of Stanford Cardinals in her family. (As a six year old, her father gave her a Stanford swim cap and had written DiRado under the famous S logo). As a freshman, she took second in the 200 yard IM and third in the 400 yard IM at the 2011 Division 1 NCAA Championships.
Showcasing her versatility during her sophomore season at Stanford, DiRado finished second in the 200 yard back, third in the 200 yard IM, and fourth in the 400 yard IM at the 2012 Division 1 NCAA Championships. Her 400 IM performance was historic; DiRado broke the 17-18 National Age Group record with a time of 3:59.88. DiRado is now one of only five women to ever break the 4-minute barrier in the 400 IM.
As a junior at Stanford DiRado took 2nd in the 400 yard IM, 3rd in the 200 yard IM, and 5th in the 200 yard back at the 2013 NCAA Division 1 Championships. In 2015 DiRado finished her senior year at Stanford. During the fall 2013 season she had qualified for the 2014 NCAA Division 1 championships with four “A” cuts. At the meet she won her first individual title, winning both the 200 IM and 400 IM, and picked up a silver in the 200 fly. She was named Pac-12 Swimmer of the Year.
International and national swimming
With such impressive collegiate swims her freshman season, DiRado earned a spot on the United States’ 2011 World University Games team. At the Games in Shenzen, China, DiRado won her first international gold medal in the 400 meter IM with a time of 4:40.79.
A year later DiRado swam the 200 meter IM, 400 meter IM, and 200 meter back at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. She made it to the top final, and she finished 4th in both IM events.
Although the IM star did not earn herself a collegiate national championship in 2013, the year would prove to be an exceptional year for DiRado. At the 2013 Phillips 66 National Championships she earned a spot on the United States’ FINA World Championships Team with a win in the 400 meter IM, a 2nd place in the 200 meter fly, and a 5th place in the 200 meter free. Her time of 4:34.34 in the 400 IM ranked her as 3rd in the world at the time.
DiRado was quite busy at the 2013 FINA World Championships in Barcelona, Spain. She became a world champion as part of the United States’ 800 meter free relay. She was also 4th in the 400 meter IM and 12th in the 200 meter fly.
In 2015 DiRado signed with Speedo USA, choosing the brand going into Rio. She competed nationally at the Arena Pro Swim Series, from Charlotte to Santa Clara, where she was seen having some breakout 200 back races. At the Speedo Grand Challenge in May, she picked up a gold to tie Caitlin Leverenz in the 200 IM, and win the 400 free ahead of Trojan’s Tristin Baxter.
2015 World Championships
DiRado qualified for her second World Championship Team in 2015 competing in the 400 and 200 meter IM events. She first took on the 200 meter IM against big names like Katinka Hosszu and Siobhan-Marie O’Connor. With more nerves to deal with than usual, DiRado swam the best race of her life breaking her individual goal for the meet, which was to break 2:09. The moment was bittersweet for DiRado because as she touched in a lifetime best of 2:08.99, she finished in 4th just missing out on a medal.
In her next event, the 400 meter IM, DiRado again qualified for the championship final. After holding 2nd place for the majority of the race, DiRado began to catch up to Hosszu who was leading the race on the last 50 meters. Although DiRado claims she thought the wheels were coming off that last 50, she actually gained ground on Hosszu and finished 2nd to win her first individual medal from the World Championships.
2016 US SWIMMING OLYMPIC TRIALS
DiRado will represent the US in Rio in the 400M Individual Medley. DiRado was in second place after the butterfly leg and then tookover the lead in backstroke, never looking back. She finished with a time of 4:33.73, three full seconds ahead of 2nd place finisher, Elizabeth Beisel.
DiRado won her second event and added the 200M IM to her Olympic schedule. She led the race from start to finish, winning with a time of 2:09.54.
DiRado added a third event, winning the 200M Backstroke, finishing just ahead of Missy Franklin.
2016 Rio Olympics
While this is Dirado’s first Olympics, she has said this is it, she and husband Rob have bought a house in Atlanta and she has a job waiting for her after the Olympics with Global Management Consulting Company, McKinsey and Company.
DiRado swam a lifetime best 400M Individual Medley in the finals to win the Silver Medal with a time of 4:31.15, losing only to new World Record holder, the Iron Lady, Katinka Hosszu.
DiRado added a bronze medal to her collection in the 200M Individual Medley with a time of 2:08.79.
DiRado was also apart of the women’s 4×200 freestyle relay along with Katie Ledecky, Leah Smith, and Allison Schmitt. The relay won a gold medal with a time of 7:43.03, DiRado split a 1:56.39 as the third leg of the relay.
DiRado is now a gold medalist, winning the 200M Backstroke by just .06 seconds to runner up, Katinka Hossz
Originally developed by Christina Wright