May 18, 2009
NCS SWIM MEET
DiRado sets NCS record
Carrillo junior finishes individual medley in 1:57.08, 2nd best ever for high school girl
CONCORD — Maya DiRado knew she would swim fast Saturday at the North Coast Section finals. The Maria Carrillo junior just didn’t know how fast. Well, here’s how fast: She broke the national high school record in the girls’ 200-yard individual medley.
“I knew I was doing pretty good,ý said DiRado, downplaying one of the greatest swim accomplishments in Redwood Empire history. “We had planned out the splits. I knew if we put it together, I might do it.ý
DiRado led from the first 25 yards at the Concord Swim Center, getting out fast in the butterfly, her best stroke. She increased her lead in the backstroke, maintained her advantage in the breast stroke, and finished with the freestyle in grand form, swimming the final 25 yards without pressure. She was the only competitor to go under the 2-minute mark.
DiRado touched in 1:57.08 — her personal best by two seconds — and a collective cheer erupted when the time was posted on the giant scoreboard at the east end of the pool. But even before the meet announcer informed the large crowd that DiRado had just set a national record, her coaches and other well-wishers went crazy, recognizing the enormity of the moment.
It’s a national record, a national record! First the refrain was only a murmur, but when it became official, the swim center erupted in applause.
“It was a great feeling,ý said DiRado. “I know I can improve on my breast stroke. I’m still growing and getting stronger.ý
That must be an unsettling thought if you are one of her competitors.
DiRado broke the national record of 1:57.41 established in 2007 by Mary Beck of Westlake High in Austin, Texas. Beck now swims at Cal.
DiRado also shattered the NCS mark of 1:58.45 set in 2000 by Concord’s Natalie Coughlin, an 11-time Olympic medalist. DiRado came back later in the afternoon to miss by the narrowest of margins in the 100 butterfly. She was nipped by Oregon State-bound Rachel O’Brien from College Park High in Pleasant Hill. DiRado touched the wall in 54.15 to O’Brien’s 54.07
“She looked really smooth yesterday in the prelims,ý said Carrillo coach Kara Myers, who admitted DiRado had the record in her mind. “I know that was her goal. People ask me how fast can she go? I tell them that with her work ethic, it’ up to her.ý
Myers added that DiRado has the perfect temperament and attitude for swimming.
“She’s mellow. She has the right to boast, but doesn’t,ý Myers said. “It’s great to have her on the team. She’s a great role model and leads by example.ý
DiRado’s summer season is also about to begin. She will leave in the next couple of days to swim for the US National team for her age bracket in Canada. Then she’ll continue a busy schedule with several important club meets. DiRado is no stranger to international competition, having raced in Australia last year.
Almost lost in the excitement of DiRado’s feat were several other outstanding performances.
Max Horrell, nicknamed The Swimmer by his campus buddies at Analy, did nothing to diminish his reputation, winning the 100-yard butterfly in 48.38 to break the NCS record set by Mark Fiorito in 1986, one of the oldest standing records in the section.
With 10 yards to the wall in the 100 backstroke, Horrell, the No. 1 seed, was in a three-way battle with Healdsburg’s Ben Whitenack and Sean Haufler of Miramonte of Orinda. Whitenack out-kicked both in 51.16 with Harrell second in 51.24. Whitenack knocked nearly two seconds off his personal best.
Analy coach Lehla Irwin described Horrell as one of the most confident, yet down-to-earth swimmers she has coached.
Carrillo’s Matthew Stuhr finished second in his specialty, the 500 freestyle, to Paul Quincy of Cal High in San Ramon. Stuhr had already set a personal best earlier in the 200 free to win the consolation trophy in 1:41.3. His time was seventh-best overall.
Allie Davis of Windsor had one of the top freshman performances, knocking two seconds off her qualifying time in the 200 freestyle for a personal-best 1:51.99 to win the consolation heat.
In all, 13 Empire individual swimmers participated in the meet, considered one of the most prestigious section meets in the state. Plus, Maria Carrillo’s girls’ 200 medley relay team and the Pumas’ 400 freestyle group (anchored by DiRado, along with Karissa De-Rousseau, Lauren Matevish and Neda Kazemini), qualified for the finals.
Since there is no state meet, the section finals are the pinnacle for high school swimmers. Medaling in the North Coast Section is a big deal. The top 40 qualifying times make the NCS, with the best 16 advancing to the finals.
Molly Hannis (4th) 200 IM 2:03.38 Personal best by over 2 seconds (2nd) 100 breast 1:00.19 Redwood Empire Record
(40th) 100 back 1:04.41
(30th) 100 back 1:01.72