Soni Leads USC Into Pac-10 Swimming, Diving Championships

Feb. 26, 2008

Led by two-time career conference title winner Rebecca Soni, the No. 25 USC women's swimming and diving team is set for the 2008 Pac-10 Conference Swimming Championships, Wednesday through Saturday (Feb. 27-March 1) at Belmont Plaza in Long Beach, Calif.

Events begin on Wednesday (Feb. 27) with timed finals of the 200y medley and 800y free relays that begin at 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (Feb. 28-March 1), prelims begin at 11 a.m. and finals start at 6 p.m. each day. Thusday's schedule features the 500y free, 200y IM, 50y free and 200y free relay. Friday features the 400y IM, 100y fly, 200y free, 100y breast, 100y back and 400y medley relay. Saturday's finale includes a timed final of the 1650y free, 200y back, 100y free, 200y breast, 200y fly and the 400y free relay ... Seven of the Pac-10 teams are ranked in's top 25, including No. 25 USC, No. 2 Stanford, No. 4 Arizona, No. 8 Cal, No. 15 UCLA, No. 16 Arizona State and No. 24 Washington.

Entrance is free on Wednesday. All-session adult passes are $25, all-session student/senior passes are $15, one day adult tickets are $10 and one day student/senior tickets are $6. Tickets are available on the day of the event only.

At the conclusion of each day's events, results will posted on the Pac-10 web site as well as on host-school Arizona's web site. Results will also be posted to

The Pac-10 Men's and Women's Diving Championships are being held concurrently with the swimming portion, Feb. 28-March 1 at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatics Center, Federal Way, Wash.

Results will be available here as well as at the Pac-10 web site.

USC had streaks of having won at least three Pac-10 individual titles (including diving) for six consecutive seasons and winning at least one title in 13 straight years snapped in 2007, but looks to resume the title streak this season. Junior Rebecca Soni won the 100y and 200y breast titles as a 2006 freshman and was a two-time finalist in those events in 2007. She enters the 2008 Pac-10s as the top-ranked swimmers in both races ... USC has won eight conference titles in the 1650y free and senior Whitney Hentzen will try to make it nine. She enters the meet with the top time in the Pac-10 in the event (16:17.95) and has the second-fastest in the 500y free (4:44.19) ... Similarly, junior Kristen Lahey has the top Pac-10 time in the 100y back (53.04). USC has never one the event at the Pac-10s ... Senior diver Kim Popp is a two-time Pac-10 runner-up on the 10-meter platform. A win on the event would be USC's first on platform since 2003, when Blythe Hartley won it ... The Trojan men's divers feature three freshmen in Steven Starks, Derek Roth and Greg Miller. All are looking for USC's first men's diving title since Michael Hilde won platform in 2006.

The USC women's team has broken three school records this season and one USC pool record. Two team records are from junior Rebecca Soni, who at the 2007 Husky Invite reset her own USC mark in the 200y breast in an NCAA-record effort of 2:07.08. She later dropped the school mark in the 100m breast to 1:07.29. Soni's NCAA record broke Tara Kirk's mark of 2:07.13 set at the 2004 Pac-10 Championships and her time is the second fastest ever in the race, behind only Kirk's 2:05.73 at the 2006 American Short Course Championships.

At the same meet, junior Kristen Lahey won the 100y back in 53.04, shattering USC's school record of 53.48 set by Haley McGregory. Lahey's time ties her with Misty Hyman as the 21st fastest woman ever in the race.

Against California on Feb. 1, the USC relay quartet of Lahey, Soni, senior Emily Goetsch and junior Rachael Waller lowered the McDonald's Stadium pool record in the 400y medley relay to 3:40.16. The previous mark was 3.40.98, set in 1998 by Katie Meyer, Kristen MacGregor, Karen Campbell and Lindsay Benko.

Women of Troy swimmers have turned in numerous NCAA automatic qualifying times this season, including Soni in the 100y (1:00.40) and 200y breast (2:07.08) and in the 400y IM (4:15.45), junior Katy Houston in the 100y (1:01.65) and 200y breast (2:12.51), senior Whitney Hentzen in the 500y (4:44.19) and 1650y free (16:17.95), senior Emily Goetsch in the 100y (53.37) and 200y fly (1:58.77) and Lahey in the 100y back (53.04).

A number of Trojans have also posted NCAA consideration times, including junior Rachael Waller in the 100y (50.24), 200y (1:47.26) and 500y free (4:48.02) and 200y fly (2:00.12), Hentzen in the 200y free (1:49.40), senior Brittany Allen in the 500y (4:49.18) and 1650y free (16:31.21), senior Lindsay Warren in the 1650y free (16:35.04), Soni in the 200y IM (2:00.70), Houston in the 400y IM (4:22.72) and Lahey in the 100y fly (54.47) and the 200y back (1:58.44).

Senior diver Kim Popp, sophomore Alexis Demond and freshman Christine Petrilli have all already qualified for the 2008 Zone E Championships, the qualifying meet for the 2008 NCAA Championships. Popp and Petrilli did so at the 2007 Trojan Diving Invitational while DeMond did it last week in a meet against Northern Arizona with her first career dual-meet springboard wins. Popp is a two-time NCAA Championships participant who was an individual point scorer in 2007.

Several Trojans own marks currently listed among the top 25 in the nation (through this past weekend).

Soni's 100y breast (58.54, converted) and 200y breast (2:07.08) are both top in the country and she is 23rd in the 400y IM (4:14.45); Hentzen is 22nd in the 500y free (4:44.19) and 17th in the 1650y free (16:17.95); Lahey is fifth in the 100y back (53.04); Houston is 12th in the 200y breast (2:12.51), 22nd in the 100y breast (1:01.65) and 23rd in the 200y IM (2:00.23); Goetsch is 23rd in the 200y fly (1:58.77) and 21st in the 100y fly (53.37).

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