Excuse me while I have a moment. Maya DiRado just won herself a gold, and my little Sonoma County heart couldn’t swell with more hometown pride. The win is made better because she swam against the intimidating and dominant “Iron Maiden”, and she won by out-touching her with a flawless finish. (Expect every swim coach across America to use the monumental touch-out to validate their “finish strong” mantra.)
Maya was just a little girl on the Neptunes when I was wrapping up my high school swimming career. I remember coach Dan Greaves excited about this amazing, hard working, little swimmer. In fact, I recall many coaches remarking that she was one to watch. Even then.
Later, as a mom of Neptune kids, I’ve reveled in the stories of our Maya DiRado, national level swimmer with a heart of gold. And now she has gold to wear in front of her heart. As she should. My own daughters idolize her as another standout citizen and Neptune alumni. If you don’t know much about our hometown Olympian, here’s all you need to know to become her number one fan.
3 Medal Worthy Reasons to Love Maya DiRado
::Bronze:: Hometown Hero
We all love a story that hits home, and this one has no modern match. Not since Jenna Johnson have we seen a local swimmer of Olympic caliber, medal. I’m not sure if it’s just that the pace is slower here, or that the swimming community is small, but gold medal winners from wine country are few and far apart. The Santa Rosa Neptunes, one of the oldest teams in the North Bay, foster a love for swimming among it’s 300 person team, year-round. Our local institution is experiencing a little moment because of Maya-and it’s so well-deserved.
After completing her silver medal finish in the 400 meter IM, Maya was asked if she was disappointed in her race. (Gold medals all-around to the Olympians who endure all the tactless questions from reporters.) I might have eye-rolled myself right into a coma, if I had to answer that. But DiRado replied, “I got silver, and I’m thrilled with that!” Indeed, DiRado earned her best time, and the person who beat her, went on to crush the world record. Instead of flashing some ego, Maya played it close to the heart: She was thrilled with second place, and she wasn’t afraid to show it. In a culture where brash athletic bravado is rewarded, her classy response is a breath of fresh air.
::Gold:: Smart Girl
If ever you needed an Olympian to have your kids hero-worship, it’s Maya. At just 15, Maya achieved a perfect score in the Math SAT, and at 17 started at Stanford University. When she spoke to the Neptune swimmers earlier this year, she shared that she’d be retiring after the Olympics. She’s ready to move on with her life and she’s not afraid of the new challenges that lie ahead.
Maya DiRado is not just an Olympian; she’s a driven young woman, with more adulting skills in her left pinky than I have in my whole person. I’ve personally always respected the star athlete that could move seamlessly from center stage (or podium) to real life work. Maya DiRado seems to possess that skill in spades. When Amy Poehler created the Smart Girls campaign, she might just have modeled it after our hometown swimmer.
We are so proud of our bronze, silver and two time gold medal winner, Maya Dirado. If you haven’t yet watched her races, make sure you catch up on this fantastic person, who just so happens to share our hometown with us.