Soni Fourth At Worlds In 200 Breast

July 31, 2009

A streak of near invincibility in the breaststroke that lasted for a year finally ended for recent USC graduate Rebecca Soni.

Days after winning a gold medal in the 100-meter breaststroke, the three-time Olympic medalist and six-time NCAA champion had to settle for a surprising fourth in the 200-meter breast on Friday (July 31) at the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome.

Soni won the gold medal in the 200m breast at the 2008 Olympics, kicking off 12 months of dominance in the event. She returned for her senior year at USC and won 2009 Pac-10 and NCAA titles in the 100y and 200y breast and won both events in meters at the 2009 U.S. World Championships Trials.

After winning the world title in the 100m breast earlier in the week, Soni was a favorite to do the same in the 200. She finished second in prelims and semifinals to Canadian Annmay Pierse on Thursday to advance to Friday's final.

Soni opened the championship race with a blazing first 50 meters of 31.41 and turned at the 100-meter mark at 1:05.73 with a huge lead. Her first 100 meters was almost a full second faster than her silver-medal winning time in the 100-meter race at the 2008 Olympics.

Soni still maintained more than a two-second lead with 50 meters to go, but the extremely fast pace finally caught up with her as three competitors passed her less than 25 meters away from the wall.

Serbia's Nadia Higl won in 2:21.62, followed by Pierse (2:21.84), Austria's Mirna Jukic (2:21.97) and Soni (2:22.15).

'It was really painful,' Soni told reporters. 'I don't really know what happened. Sometimes things don't go as planned. This is a perfect example of that.'

Also on Thursday, USC senior Dina Hegazy (Egypt) finished 26th in the 200m back (2:14.76) while incoming freshman Haley Anderson was 28th in the 800m free (8:45.91).

Soni still has another swim left when she will compete in the 4x100m medley relay on Saturday.

Trojan sophomore Katinka Hosszu, winner already of bronze medals in the 200m IM and the 200m fly, will get a shot at a third in the 400m IM on Sunday.


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