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Stanford grad DiRado takes advantage of her final opportunity

 

Stanford grad Maya DiRado took silver in the 400-meter IM at the 2015 FINA World Championships. She did herself one better at the Olympic swimming trials in Omaha.

Since returning stateside, she's been on a tear on the Arena Pro Swim Series, finishing second behind future Stanford swimmer Katie Ledecky on the Series leader board, and often winning multiple, back-to-back events at Pro Swim Series meets.

The dividends paid off in a big way for DiRado Sunday night, as she won the women's 400 IM in 4:33.73, the fifth-fastest time in the world this year.

DiRado has a personal best 4:31.71 in the event, which she swam at the FINA World Championships last August, earning a silver medal, her first individual medal from the World Championships.

Elizabeth Beisel won the gold medal in the event with a time of 4:31.74 at the 2012 London Olympics.

"Really the biggest thing was being calm and not getting flustered," DiRado said. "I just want to see my family and my coach, and give them big hugs and say, 'Thank you so much,'"

DiRado has made it clear that her intentions are to swim through the Olympics, and then hang up her goggles for good.

She will be moving to Atlanta in the fall with her husband (former Stanford swimmer Rob Andrews), where she will start her new career as a business analyst with a consulting firm.

She thinks the pending end of her swimming career has created a sense of urgency and clarity that has allowed her to dominate over the last year.

"I think it's (me) getting confident, kind of not holding on too tightly, knowing this is my last go-around, and just enjoying everything and being so grateful I get to do this," DiRado said.

While she has had experience on the international stage over the last few years, Rio will be her first Olympic Games. And while she might be an Olympic rookie, she said she has a lot to offer the team as a veteran of the sport.

"At 23, I'm one of the older ones," DiRado said. "I think (I bring) just a sense of calm, and because this is my last one, I feel I'll help people appreciate what they're doing and the opportunity they'll get to have."

DiRado unofficially became the 24th Olympian with a local connection.

Finishing second behind DiRado was Beisel in 4:36.81.

Beisel has been recovering from a rough 2015, when she pulled her groin and tore a muscle in her leg at a meet in January of that year.

If added to the team, it will be her third Olympics. She won silver in this event in London.

"It's been a long road to recovery, but hopefully I'm back," Beisel said. "I can't tell you how emotional today was for me. Just so many nerves and having doubts over the last year with injury, it's hard to block it out. But it is such a relief. Such a relief."

Notes: Three Stanford men finished among the top 23 in the 400 IM: Abrahm Devine was sixth in 4:14.98, Max Williamson placed 14th with a time of 4:21.17 and Curtis Ogren finished 23rd in 4:23.49 . . . Stanford sophomore Ella Eastin finished ninth in the women's 400 IM, racing a 4:42.08 . . . Cardinal grad Felicia Lee was 15th overall in the 100 fly, swimming a 59.47. Stanford sophomore Janet Hu was 18th in 59.90 . . . Stanford recruits Nicholas "True" Sweetser and Grant Shoults swam in the finals of the men's 400 free. Sweetser went 3:50.71 to place sixth, followed by Shoults in seventh at 3:51.25. Cardinal grad Liam Egan finished 11th in 3:50.95 . . . Cardinal grad BJ Johnson raced 1:01.59 to place 18th in the 100 breast . . . Several PASA swimmers also competed in the trials, among them Alex Liang, Joe Molinari, Jeremy Babinet, Joe Kmak, Leah Goldman, Gabrielle Anderson and Chloe Isleta. The trials continue through Sunday.

— Jim Rusnak/USA swimming

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