Olympic swimmer Maya DiRado is poised to become one of the breakout stars of the 2016 Olympic Games. Her large, sunny smile will likely make her a favorite for TV cameras, and her physical prowess in the pool will likely make her a fan favorite.
DiRado is scheduled to swim in three events at the Rio Olympics: the 200- and 400-meter individual medleys and the 200-meter backstroke.
Below, you can learn more about Maya DiRado with these five fast facts.
1. DiRado is a whiz kid when it comes to academics.
DiRado worked her way through schooling faster than many. The now-23-year-old skipped the second grade because it wasn’t challenging enough, and she went on to begin high school when she was just 13-years-old. By the time she was 15-years-old, she had earned a perfect score on the math section of the SAT, and by the time she was 17-years-old, she’d begun her college career at Stanford.
???? Swimmer Maya DiRado poses for photos at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit Tuesday, March 8, 2016, in… https://t.co/AoiTX4E9Tt
— TodaysLineUp (@Todays_Line_Up) July 9, 2016
2. DiRado will only compete at one Olympic Games.
When it comes to swimming at the Olympics, Maya DiRado will be a one-and-done swimmer, she said. After the 2016 Olympics, the California native has a job waiting for her in Atlanta, where she will be working as a business analyst with McKinsey & Company.
The fact that DiRado will only attend one Olympic Games has helped DiRado to push through the challenging parts of training and enjoy the time she has in the pool, her coach, Greg Meehan, told the Mercury News.
“It is rare, but special nonetheless. And I think the fact that she knows this is going to be her final year of competition really allowed her to embrace the challenge that our sport presents and just embrace the workload that is required to get here.”
— Vytas Mazeika (@dailynewsvytas) July 15, 2016
3. DiRado never planned on the 2016 Olympics.
In fact, if you ask her, DiRado will tell you that the Rio Olympic Games weren’t ever even part of her plan. When DiRado failed to make the Olympic team in 2012, she figured she would finish out her swimming career at Stanford, earn her degree in management science and engineering, and move on with her life.
Her coach had different plans. Meehan encouraged her to continue with the sport past her college graduation. At the time, Meehan knew that DiRado didn’t see herself as someone who could reach the Olympic level, he told Yahoo Sports, but he saw things differently.
“I think she was comfortable where she was and didn’t really see herself as an Olympian, didn’t really see herself ever getting to that level. She just thought, ‘OK, I’m really good, but I’m just going to be in this spot.'”
After some encouragement, DiRado was persuaded to continue training. Turns out, that hard work paid off.
4. Maya comes from a family of devout Christians.
Perhaps DiRado’s peace with failing to qualify for the 2012 Olympic team comes from her faith. In an interview with Yahoo Sports, DiRado said she is certain that her God doesn’t care whether she wins or loses in the pool.
“I don’t think God really cares about my swimming very much. This is not my end purpose, to make the Olympic team. My God is powerful and in control, but I don’t think he cares whether I win. It’s interesting theology you can get into when it’s a God of victory in your sport.”
5. DiRado’s family background is diverse — with deep ties to Stanford.
Maya’s father, Ruben DiRado, was born in Argentina to Italian immigrants. He moved to the United States when he was 3-years-old. Her mother, Marit, is of Norwegian heritage.
According to reports, DiRado’s parents met at Stanford. Maya’s grandfather and great-aunt also are Stanford graduates, and Maya’s sister, Sarah, also attended the university. Additionally, both Maya and Sarah married Standford alums. To say that the DiRado family members were born and bred to be Cardinal is considered an understatement to some.
Will you tune in to watch Maya DiRado and Team USA Swimming compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro?
[Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images Sport]