One word came to Maya DiRado's mind.
And she repeated it, again and again
"It's unbelievable," DiRado told NBC Sports after she finished the 400-meter individual medley with a silver medal. "That was an unbelievable experience."
These Olympics are DiRado's first and last. The Standford University graduate qualified for the Olympic team at the Olympic Trials, as did her friend and rival, former University of Florida standout Elizabeth Beisel.
The two share history in the water. In 2013, they finished 1-2 in the NCAA Championships, with Beisel besting DiRado.
A year later, they finished first and second again, but it was DiRado who edged out Beisel.
More recently, at the trials in late June, everything went DiRado’s way. She blew away the rest of the field, and bested the runner-up Beisel by more than a whopping three seconds.
Had she not won, DiRado would be spending her time focusing on the business analyst job in Atlanta she was hired for but delayed starting until she gave her Olympic dream one final shot.
DiRado qualified for the final by recording a 4:33:50 time to win her heat, while Beisel's 4:34:38 time ranked fourth in her heat.
Beisel was looking to improve on the silver medal she won in Beijing in 2012, while DiRado was looking for her first medal.
In winning the gold medal, Hungary's Katinka Hosszu set a world recrod of 4:26:36. Mireia Belmonte Garcia took bronze with a time of 4:32:39. Beisel's time of 4:34:98 was sixth best.