Maya DiRado and Katie Ledecky wrote the perfect script Friday, augmenting what has become the greatest Olympics ever for American swimmers.
On the heels of Simone Manuel's stirring performance in the 100 free, DiRado stamped her one and only Olympics with her first individual gold medal and her fourth medal overall.
DiRado, who swam a winning time of 2:05.99, made sure to save her last race for the gold.
Before arriving in Rio, the closest DiRado came to earning her own gold was swimming on a preliminary relay team that qualified for the final and, without her, an eventual gold medal in the final, anchored by Missy Franklin, at a world championship meet.
This time, she swam the relay final that Franklin swam in the preliminary round only. DiRado won the gold in an event Franklin holds the world record.
DiRado, the late bloomer at age 23, crossing paths with the teenage sensation Ledecky, at age 19 and the future wide open. DiRado, two years out of Stanford, symbolically passing the torch to Ledecky, who has yet to attend a class at Stanford.
Ledecky doesn't seem to have any rivals, anyone who could compete at her level. During the preliminaries of the 800 she set an Olympic record that was about six seconds slower than her world record.
At 8:04.79 in the finals, Ledecky bettered her mark by nearly two full seconds. Her closest competitors finished almost 12 seconds later. Ledecky swept the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyles at the same Olympic for the first time in 48 years.
Add Manuel and Lia Neal, who has earned medals in two Olympics, and Stanford enthusiasts can safely say this is the best overall performance.
Chris von Saltza, Sharon Stouder Clark, Jenny Thompson, Catherine Fox, Lisa Jacob, Summer Saunders, Misty Hyman, Janet Evans and all the great Cardinal women swimmers of the past will be remembered.
At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Thompson, Jacob and Fox combined to win seven gold medals, all as part of relays.
This year, Stanford swimmers have combined for seven golds, three silvers and a bronze.