Heading into the women’s 200 back final at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Hungarian Katinka Hosszu had already collected 3 individual gold medals at the Games (100 BK, 200/400 IM). Hosszu was looking to sweep both backstroke events after her dominant IM sweep. Right behind her in the final was another BK/IM specialist, Maya DiRado. The American had already taken silver in the 400 IM and bronze in the 200 IM, as well as adding a gold medal in the 800 free relay. However, DiRado had still yet to individually earn Olympic gold.
Hosszu led the semifinals to take the middle lane in the final next to Canadian Hillary Caldwell. DiRado was seeded in the other lane next to Hosszu. Once breaking out at the 15-meter mark after the start, Hosszu had already maneuvered to the head of the pack. At the first 50, however, DiRado flipped just 0.32s behind Hosszu. At the halfway mark, it was still Hosszu leading by half a second over DiRado. Hosszu and DiRado had also swum the middle 100 of the race almost identically, both splitting 1:03s. The last 50, however, was when DiRado made her attack on Hosszu.
Hosszu was flying from start to finish, already building to a solid finishing speed with 15 meters to go. However, DiRado was slowly gaining on Hosszu, who exploded to a body-length lead after the last wall. When DiRado and Hosszu approached the flags, both swimmers used two different finishes, which of course had two different outcomes. Hosszu rapidly timed the finish with tactical, precise strokes inside the flags, touching the wall instantly on her last stroke. DiRado, however, was still swimming with a more smooth stroke, allowing her to flawlessly time in an underwater lunge to the wall.
At the touch, it was DiRado’s underwater lunge that got to the wall first, defeating Hosszu by 0.06s. DiRado’s final time of 2:05.99 marked a lifetime best for her, becoming the 2nd-fastest American in event history at the time of her swim.
|Maya DiRado||Katinka Hosszu|
Finishing 50 Meters of the 200 Back Final:
Here’s what was going through DiRado’s head during that last 50:
Full Race Video + Medal Ceremony