Day 5 Finals Results: Maya DiRado Competes in Australia with Team USA

Updated 8 Jan 11:15pm Melbourne time:

Day 5 Finals Results:  Team USA ended the meet on a very strong note tonight, with at least 2 Americans on the podium in most events.  The USA women went 1-3 in the 400IM, with the Neptunes’ Maya DiRado winning the event in 4:50.07, just ahead of fast closing Ellen Gandy of Great Britain.  Maya used a very strong middle 200 to take control of the race, but had to hold off Gandy who closed within 0.1 at the finish!   It was an exciting way to finish the meet for Maya - afterwards most of the team members traded caps and gear with other teams, and tonight Team USA is going lawn bowling.  We return to the San Francisco tomorrow morning, arriving in California the morning of the 9th local time.

Day 5 Prelims Results:  The USA girls claimed the top 4 spots for tonight’s 400IM final.  Maya won her heat in a very easy 4:55 and is seeded in 2nd position for finals.  She swam the first 150m fairly hard and built a big lead, then coasted on in.  About an hour later she swam a 200m Free in 2:07.35 which was a lifetime best, but not fast enough for finals.  We hope to video the 400IM and post it tonight.  You should be able to see it by Tuesday morning California time.

The Aussies run meets somewhat differently from what we are accustomed to in the US.   We appreciate some of the differences but are annoyed at others.  One great thing they do here is conduct disability swimming events as part of the Open Championship schedule.  It is very inspiring to see the performances of these swimmers and it makes you appreciate the value of sports, excercise, and working toward one’s goals for everyone, regardless of ability level.  I think it would be healthy for us to "mainstream" disability swimming in the US as they do here -- it sure helps keep things in their proper perspective!

However, one thing that is somewhat annoying is that each heat is released to the pool deck from a "ready room."  Swimmers are required to report to this area a fairly long time before their event, so it has been a challenge for ths US swimmers to adapt to this routine and to stay warm (fortunately it has been quite warm here - today has been the first day that it has dropped under 80).

The USA swimmers seem to be getting along well and supporting each other, and having some friendly rivalry with the Aussies.  Some Americans are having very strong meets, while others are struggling with their health (Kasey Carlson from TERA has been quite ill and was not able to swim after the first two days).  Either way, I think everyone will have forged deeper friendships and will have taken away learning experiences that they can draw from in the future. Only complaint has been that the team has not seen much of Melbourne - the team is pretty much confined to the pool, their hotel, and the tram (trolley train) which takes them back and forth!

Day 4 Finals Results:  Maya matched her morning swim with a 1:05.72, finishing 15th overall in the semifinals.  She competes in her best event, the 400IM on Day 5.  Her seed time is ranked first in that event.

Day 4 Prelims Results:  Maya swam a personal best 1:05.70 in the 100 Back, taking 0.6 sec off her previous best.  This was good enough to qualify her 13th in the semi-finals tonight.

Day 3 Prelims Results:  Maya swam 4:23.79 in the 400 Free, finishing 17th in prelims -- so no finals for her tonght.  Kate Ziegler was the top qualifier at 4:11.  We will probably not update again until Jan 8 at noon (Jan 7 evening in California) with results from the 400IM.

Day 2 Finals Results:  The Junior Team continued to pick up momentum on day 2 of the meet.  The USA went 1-2 in the women’s 200IM with Maya DiRado finishing second behind fellow Junior Teamer Dagny Knutson with a time of 2:17.74.  Australia Olympians Shayne Reese and Leisel Jones finished 3rd and 4th in the event.  Maya moved from 4th to 2nd in the last 50 meters - both American girls were somewhat unbelieving that they placed 1-2. 

Day 2 Prelims Results:
    Team USA had a very strong morning session with many swimmers moving on to finals or semi finals.  Maya qualified 6th in the 200IM with a time of 2:19.63.  She came in 2nd in her heat to Liesel Jones, the 100m and 200m Breastroke world record holder.  Maya led at the 100m point but Jones passed her about 25m into the breast stroke leg.  Maya came back in the free to make it close at the end (6/10th of sec seperation).

In addition, Amanda Sims qualified for the semi-final for the 50 Back tonight.  The UC Berkeley women joined the competition today, and they immediately made their presence felt, with many entrants competing in the fastest heats.  It was interesting to see many Americans beating by large margins what appeared to be their very old 50m entry times (from when they were 12 years old?) to enter the "unusual" 50m events -- 50 Back, 50 Fly, and 50 Breast.

Day 1 Finals Results: Maya finished 7th in the 200m Back with a personal best time of 2:18.50 (also an SRN team record), just over the Olympic Trials qualifying time for this event.  While disappointed that she did not dip under 2:18, Maya was pleased to swim this fast in her first long course meet of the season.  Maya’s split at the 150m point was a full second ahead of this morning’s swim, but she faded a bit in the last 50m.

We also saw Amanda Sims at the meet tonight.  She had arrived at the pool with the UC Berkeley / Cal Aquatics contingent and had just finished doing a short workout.  They will be swimming in the meet tomorrow.

Day 1 Prelim Results: Maya qualified seventh for the finals of the 200m Back in a time of 2:19.15.  She also swam a personal best 1:04.56 in the 100m Fly, placing 29th in prelims.  It is in the high 90s today in Melbourne, and not a cloud in the sky.  The swimming facility is simply amazing -- more on that later.  Maya swims finals tonight at 630pm local time, which I believe is 1130pm on Thursday night in Santa Rosa.  

We spoke briefly with Maya and she believes that 2:17.99, which is an Olympic Trials qualifying mark in this event, is definitely a possibility tonight.  We’ll keep you posted.

Neptune Swimming’s Maya DiRado to Compete in Australia with USA National Junior Team

Santa Rosa Neptune swimmer Maya DiRado will be competing for the USA National Junior Team at the Victorian State Championships in Melbourne, Australia. DiRado, a sophomore at Maria Carrillo High School, is the second ever Sonoma County resident to qualify for this elite team. Amanda Sims, a Montgomery graduate and current University of California swimmer was a member of the USA team that competed at the Queensland State Championships in Brisbane, Australia in 2004.

Although she is only 14, DiRado is not a newcomer to elite level swimming. She has swum at three USA National Championship meets and has already qualified for the 2008 USA Olympic Team Trials. Representing her country abroad, however, will be an exciting new experience. “I’ve been looking forward to this trip for a while, but I started getting a little anxious when a giant box of team gear with ‘USA’ stitched on it arrived on the porch," said DiRado.

The National Junior Team is organized by USA Swimming to develop international experience among its next generation of top athletes. Twenty three members of the USA 2004 Olympics Swimming team were alumni of the National Junior Team.

Sixty six swimmers (36 girls, 30 boys) were selected for the 2008 USA team competing in Melbourne. ( Complete roster can be found at the USA Swimming website).  The Victorian State Championships has drawn some of the finest competitors from Australia, China, New Zealand, and South Africa. Headliners expected to compete include world record holders Liesel Jones (100m and 200m Breaststroke) and Grant Hackett (1500m Freestyle) of Australia as well as Americans Natalie Coughlin (100m Backstroke) and Kate Ziegler (1500m Freestyle).

DiRado is slated to compete in eight individual events over the five day competition. Going in she is ranked 8th in the 200 Backstroke, 4th in the 200 Individual Medley, and 1st in the 400 Individual Medley. A complete list of entries can be found on the Swimming Victoria homepage. The Victorian State Championships will run from January 4th to 8th.

Quick Facts
2008 Victorian State Championships
January 4-8, 2008
Prelims: 9 a.m. local time (2 p.m., day before for PST)
Finals: 6:30 p.m. local time (1130 p.m. day before for PST)
* Melbourne is 19 hours ahead of PST.
Site of the 2006 FINA World Championships and 2005 Commonwealth Games
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
50 meters (Olympic distance)
Will be posted on the Swimming Victoria homepage
All swimmers who achieved an automatic qualifying time standard and met the age requirement in one of the following meets were selected to the team: 2007 USA Swimming Qualifying Events: Spring Championships, Grand Prix Competition, Long Course Summer Sectionals, Senior National Championships, Junior National Championships
Age Requirement: The girls on the team must be 15 or younger at the time they were selected, and the boys must be 17 or younger and will not be attending college prior to the meet.
* For specific selection criteria information, visit (click on Swimmers at the top, then National Team on the left).
At every Olympics since the inception of the program, at least one former National Junior Team member has qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team. Since the first team in 1989-90, U.S. National Junior Team alumni include:
*47 Olympians (10 percent of the alumni)
*27 Olympic medalists
*23 members of the 2004 Olympic Team (54 percent of the team)
*5 individual medalists from the 2004 Olympic Team: Natalie Coughlin, Ian Crocker, Brendan Hansen, Ryan Lochte, Erik Vendt