2016 Trials Throwback: Maya DiRado, Missy Franklin Ride 200 Backstroke Surge to Rio

Maya DiRado and Missy Franklin. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Each day during the pre-scheduled days of the 2020 US Olympic Trials, Swimming World will take its readers back four years to the 2016 Trials in Omaha to recap each event, and will offer some insight into what the events will look like in 2021. Today: Maya DiRado and Missy Franklin’s 200 backstroke.

Four years ago, Missy Franklin entered the U.S. Olympic Trials as the reigning Olympic gold medalist and world record holder in the 200 backstroke.


Missy Franklin and Maya DiRado. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

But her 2016 Trials had not gone anywhere near as well as 2012. Franklin missed the 100 backstroke, finishing seventh, then struggled in her other events, making the team by finishing second in the 200 freestyle.

Now, the 200 backstroke was perhaps her best event, and it seemed there were only a few people who could get in her way.

One was her 2012 Olympic teammate Elizabeth Beisel. She had made the team already in the 400 IM and was still swimming strong.

The other was Maya DiRado, who had already been one of the stars of the Trials, qualifying for Rio in the IM and looking to keep that momentum going.

Also on the horizon were up-and-comers Amy Bilquist and Lisa Bratton, who had each put together powerful rhythmic 200 backstrokes.

But only two could make the team.

The Race


Amy Bilquist; Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Maya DiRado indeed kept her momentum going into the 200 backstroke. After Bilquist reached the first turn first, DiRado  jumped out to a lead and never looked back, touching the wall first in 2:06.90.

Bilquist was in second for most of the race before a late surge by Franklin enabled her to touch in second place in 2:07.89.

Bratton also had a late surge and took third in 2:08.20, just a tenth ahead of Bilquist. Beisel trailed early and never recovered, finishing seventh.

Franklin had survived and made the team in another event, but all eyes were on DiRado and her spectacular week.

The Results

  1. Maya DiRado, 2:06.90
  2. Missy Franklin, 2:07.89
  3. Lisa Bratton, 2:08.20
  4. Amy Bilquist, 2:08.30
  5. Danielle Galyer, 2:09.31
  6. Erin Voss, 2:09.81
  7. Elizabeth Beisel, 2:11.12
  8. Bridgette Alexander, 2:11.41

On to Rio

Maya DiRado’s magnificent 2016 continued in Rio, as she proved to rise to the biggest challenge in the world. She dropped even more time between Trials and the Olympics and surged to the gold medal in 2:05.99, running down Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu.

DiRado won two gold, a silver and a bronze in Rio, putting a spectacular finale on her elite career.

For Franklin, the struggles continued and she did not make the final.

2016 Trials Throwbacks:

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

Day 4:

Day 5:

Day 6:

Day 7:

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