Ultra Swim Swimmer of the Month: Looking Back At Maya DiRado’s April of 2016

Ultra Swim Swimmer of the Month is a recurring SwimSwam feature shedding light on a U.S.-based swimmer who has proven themselves over the past month. As with any item of recognition, Swimmer of the Month is a subjective exercise meant to highlight one athlete whose work holds noteworthy context – perhaps a swimmer who was visibly outperforming other swimmers over the month, or one whose accomplishments slipped through the cracks among other high-profile swims. If your favorite athlete wasn’t selected, feel free to respectfully recognize them in our comment section.

It’s been a sadly swimming-light month of April, so we’re using our Swimmer of the Month to look back on this month one Olympic cycle earlier.

As of April 2016, Maya DiRado was an extremely accomplished swimmer: a World Champs gold medalist on a relay, Pan Pacs champion and perennial U.S. National Teamer.

The one thing she hadn’t yet done, though, was make an Olympic team. DiRado was 4th in both IMs at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials at the age of just 19.

In April of 2016, DiRado turned 23, hit her prime, and had a major showing at the Pro Swim Series in Mesa that set her up for an eventual Olympic berth just months down the road. In Mesa, DiRado hit season-bests in the 200 free (1:58.64), 100 back (1:00.71), 100 fly (59.39) and 200 fly (2:10.33) while winning the 100 back, 200 back and 200 IM.

In fact, both the 100 fly and 100 back were lifetime-bests for DiRado at that point. She would go on that summer to make the U.S. Olympic team in the 200 IM, 400 IM and 200 back, winning medals in all three, plus the U.S. 4×200 free relay. That 100 back lifetime-best in April was an early indicator of how strong Dirado’s backstroke would get – in one of the more memorable races from the Rio Olympics, DiRado touched out Katinka Hosszu for Olympic gold.


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By way of comparison, Regan Smith, who turned 18 years old on 09 February 2020, has posted the following in-season times in the women’s 100m butterfly and the women’s 200m butterfly during calendar year 2020, which also have turned out to be personal best times:

100 FL – 57.34
200 FL – 2:06.39

Futhermore, Regan Smith has posted the following in-season time in women’s 200m freestyle during calendar year 2020, which is not far from her personal best time of 1:58.44:

200 FR – 1:58.67


Great and insightful comment. However, you don’t really try to relate this back to Maya Dirado in any way, which begs the question of why you posted it here. The similarity in times is present for sure, but other than that what is the connection?


Maya DiRado went on from the month of April to an outstanding 2016 Rio Olympics. Where does the month of March take Regan Smith to in the future?

As for the connection, will the torch be passed on in the women’s 200m backstroke from Missy in 2012 to Maya in 2016 to Regan in 2020 …. oops 2021? The men have a wonderful tradition in the backstroke, it’s time for the women to start one.

Coach John

Missy or Regan? you’re bouncing all over the place here….


Missy is the past, Regan is the future.


man that’s crazy but I don’t remember asking


Maya is such a fantastic ambassador for the sport. I am glad she is still involved in governance.

jason zajonc

Agree 100% She has been a great example to all! Congrats to her club coaches in Santa Rosa. Neptune’s are a great team lead by wonderful coaches.


I agree. I don’t think many people realized that Neptunes had two swimmers on the 2016 team- Maya and Molly Hannis.


I will never forget how she consoled the crying Franklin when she finished the 200 back semi final and her looks said: I will beat Katinka for you in an epic fashion…. which a day later she did, which was the most memorable event next to the men’s 100 fly.


You think she won that race on behalf of Missy, not for herself?

Man, I’ve gotten so cynical about sports…I want to go back to a place where I believe that things like this are true.


No I don’t, but I think it was a motivating factor

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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