Soni, Vollmer: Golden roommates
By Ann Killion
LONDON - There's a room at the Athlete's Village that has some serious bragging rights.
That room belongs to Dana Vollmer and Rebecca Soni. All those two athletes have done here is win two gold medals, breaking world records and shattering long-held time barriers in the process.
That's some serious room swagger.
"I'm really proud of our room," Soni said Thursday night. "Hopefully we can keep it going in the relay."
That's going to be a pretty powerful 4x100 medley relay on Saturday night. Earlier in the week, former Cal swimmer Vollmer broke the world record in the 100-meter butterfly, becoming the first woman to swim under 56 seconds.
Thursday, her roommate Soni - who swam at USC - followed suit. She broke the world record, for the second straight day, in the 200-meter breaststroke. And became the first woman to swim the race in under 2:20.
"Dana and I have been friends for awhile," said Soni. "We requested to be roommates. We have similar energies, prepare the same way and can really talk about things."
Soni was inspired by Vollmer's performance on the second night of competition and was eager to match it. When she won silver in the 100-meter breaststroke, she was sad she couldn't equal her roomie.
"I felt a little left out," she said, smiling. "I was like, I'm not as good as Dana."
She was every bit as good as Vollmer on Thursday night. Soni confessed that since she was a high school swimmer in New Jersey, she held a secret goal of swimming under 2:20. She has held the world record in the event in the past - she set it in Beijing and then saw it fall in the world championships in Rome in 2009.
Soni broke the record in Wednesday night's semifinal, swimming 2:20 even.
"I'm always a believer that you go for the record in the semifinal and the gold in the final," said USC coach Dave Salo, who is an assistant on the U.S. team. "She doesn't like talking about records but she had a great warm-up before the semifinal. I told her, 'I know you don't like me talking about world records but you look good, so let's do it.'"
She did it. And Salo wasn't surprised to see her do it again on Thursday.
"She was coolly confident when she went to the blocks tonight," he said.
Soni described herself as "ecstatic" when she looked up and saw the 2:19.59 on the clock. It was particularly satisfying for Soni to break the record without the full-body rubberized suits that she hated so much that she almost quit the sport, but which have since been banned.
On the last night of swimming, Saturday night, roommates Vollmer and Soni will take to the pool as half of the relay team for one last gold medal - and perhaps world record - push.
"I feel like we're so good together," Soni said.
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