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DiRado, Ledecky make it three swimming events for Rio Olympics

 

It's the summer of Maya.

OK, technically it's also the summer of Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps as far as USA swimming hopes for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. But they've been there and done that.

Maya DiRado, an All-American and NCAA champion while at Stanford, takes center stage just as she's ready to step away from it and into family life.

DiRado won her third event at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha on Saturday, edging defending Olympic gold medalist and world record holder in the event Missy Franklin by one second in the women's 200 meters backstroke.

"It did not occur to me that this was my last race on U.S. soil until (Elizabeth) Beisel and I were about to get into the warm-up pool and she said, 'dude, this is the last time we're going to wear these caps,' " DiRado said. " And I was like 'Oh my gosh, this the last time I'm going to compete in a Stanford cap.' I let that sink in for a second and then I had to push it aside and go back to my race. I'm glad that's how I went out, with an 'S' on my cap."

She matched Ledecky, a future Cardinal swimmer, and Phelps as three-time individual winners.

"That's kind of insane," DiRado said. "I still don't really believe it. But let me preface by saying they have world records in their events and I'm like fourth or fifth in the world, so let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. But yeah, that's crazy."

DiRado's time of 2:06.90 is the fourth fastest in the world this year. Franklin, who returned to her original club Colorado Stars after three years at Cal, came in at 2:07.89. Incoming Stanford freshman Erin Voss placed sixth in 2:09.81.

"Greg (Meehan) reminded me that I have a practice tomorrow morning to get back into shape," DiRado said. "It will be painful but it's a pain I will gladly accept because this week has been so great."

DiRado only had one thing in mind when she arrived in Omaha and that was just to make the team.

"At a meet like this time doesn't really matter, you just want to make your events" DiRado said. "To win three events and get a best time is just additional excitement and happiness on top of that."

Ledecky won her signature event, the 800 free, by 10 seconds, going 8:10.32, which is still off her world record mark by four seconds. She now owns the 10 fastest times in the event.

"Took care of business and now I'm going to Rio," Ledecky said. "I can't complain. I did what I needed to do here, and it set me up to do what I wanted to do in Rio, and I think I'm really excited to get back to work this week and see if I can get a little faster, and then taper down and rest up for Rio."

Stanford's Simone Manuel and Lia Neal each get a chance to add another event to their Olympic resume on Sunday after qualifying for the final of the 50 free on Saturday.

Manuel won her heat with a 24.58 and is seeded third. Neal is the sixth seed after going 24.85 in the semifinals.

Stanford grad Felicia Lee went 25.37 and Cardinal junior Janet Hu swam a 25.97 during the preliminaries.

"I'm disappointed in my own performance but excited about my training group and the team," Lee said. "The 100 free and 50 free are late in the week and after waiting all that time, once Simone touched second and Lia fourth, we all went nuts in the stands. It was a really good moment."

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