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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