It seemed like only yesterday Stanford sophomore Maya DiRado was beginning to make a name for herself in the world of swimming. In actuality, Cardinal women's swim coach Lea Maurer was talking about her potential just a couple of weeks ago at the USA National Championships, which were held at Stanford.
How well would she hold up competing halfway around the globe under a different spotlight?
Turns out she does quite fine.
DiRado shrugged off a disqualification the previous day and swam to the World University Games title in the women's 400 IM in Shenzhen, China on Tuesday.
DiRado won her first medal of the meet by winning gold with a time of 4:40.79, helping the U.S. up its total medal count to 14, including six gold medals.
Cardinal teammate Andie Taylor finished sixth in the event, with a time of 4:46.40.
DiRado, the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, credited Taylor for consistently challenging her in the event.
"I train with Andie so I know that she's a really great butterflyer and she always pushes me," DiRado said. "She's a great breaststroker so I knew I had a lot of catching up to do in the freestyle but that's kind of been my strong part in the 400 IM so I have a lot of confidence in the last part."
DiRado recorded the world's 10th fastest time in the event (4:37.88) with her inspired swim at the U.S. Nationals.
DiRado, a five-time All-American, finished in the top five of three individual events and swam on two relays for Stanford at this year's NCAA meet. She has the second-best time in school history in the 200 back and the third best in the 200 IM and 400 IM.
DiRado came in with the best time from prelims and improved on that by nearly five seconds in the final. She finished 1.5 seconds faster than second place finisher Miho Takahashi of Japan. Austria's Joerdis Steinegger was third.
Stanford junior Curtis Lovelace had the 15th-fastest time of the day (1:02.52) in the 100 breast and Cardinal sophomore Matthew Swanston, competing for Canada, was 18th in the 50 back with a time of 26.53.
Jimmy Feigen won his second gold medal of the Games on Tuesday night in the 100 free. He won a gold medal as part of the 400 free relay team on Monday.
Feigen entered the finals as the second seed and improved on his morning time. At the halfway mark, Feigen found himself in fourth place but thanks to a 23.64 split for the final 50-meters, he out touched Romanian Norbert Trandafir with a 49.26.
"I think the race had a very strong field from lanes one through eight and every competitor gave his best effort," Feigen said. "I'm happy that I finished on top."
Andrea Kropp earned a silver medal in the women's 200 breast with a 2:26.18. China's Sun Ye took home the gold with a 2:24.63 and Japan's Satomi Suzuki won bronze in 2:26.67. American Ashley Wanland finished seventh in 2:28.90.
In the women's 200 free, Spain's Melania Costa Schmid took home gold with a 1:57.98. New Zealand's Lauren Boyle won silver in 1:59.19 and Karlee Bispo swam a 1:59.31 for the bronze.