Soni Captures 200y NCAA Title 3rd Straight Time
March 22, 2008
Junior Rebecca Soni, a day after winning her first career title in the 100y breast, became just the third woman ever to win an NCAA title in the 200y breast three times to lead the USC women's swimming team on the final night of the 2008 NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships at Ohio State's McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday (March 22).
Joining Soni on the All-American stand during the night was senior teammate Whitney Hentzen, who earned her first career honor in the 1650y free. Fellow senior Emily Goetsch also became an NCAA individual point scorer for the first time since her freshman season.
But it was Soni's efforts that put the exclamation point on the night for USC. Going just a hiccup slower than her career best (2:06.11), Soni won her third consecutive NCAA title in the 200y breast in 2:06.32. She was more than a second ahead of the field after 100 yards and kept building the lead all the way to the finish.
The only other woman to win the NCAA event three straight times is Stanford's Tara Kirk, while former Trojan Kristine Quance was also a three-time winner in the event, albeit not consecutively.
After setting an NCAA meet record in the event, Soni said: 'I'm really proud of the way I swam because everyone in this field swam really fast.'
In her final race as a Trojan, Hentzen put together a career effort in the 1650y free, finishing the timed final seventh in a personal best 16:04.45. Her previous best was during her third-place swim at the 2008 Pac-10 Championships (16:12.20). She is USC's first All-American in the mile since Kalyn Keller won it in 2004.
Goetsch turned in a personal best 1:57.61 in prelims to earn a swim in the consolation final. She swam a 1:57.95 to finish 15th overall.
Arizona won its first NCAA team title. USC was 16th. The Pac-10 largely dominated the meet as Stanford was third, Cal was fifth while ASU (17th) finished right behind USC.
The 2008 NCAA Men's Swimming and Diving Championships is Thursday through Saturday (March 27-29) in Seattle, Wash.