Hosszu, Mellouli Win World Titles

Aug. 2, 2009

UCS sophomore Katinka Hosszu won her first world title, Trojan great Ous Mellouli retained his spot as the greatest miler in the world and Rebecca Soni claimed more hardware as well on the final day of the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome on Sunday (Aug. 2).

It was a banner day for swimmers who call the USC McDonald's Stadium pool home, where Trojan Head Coach Dave Salo, entering his fourth year, has coached all three medalists.

Hosszu joined the gold-medal club in the second-to-last swim of the event, setting a World Championship record in the 400-meter individual medley in 4:30.31, complementing the bronze medals she won earlier in the week in the 200m butterfly and 200m IM.

Staring down two Olympic stalwarts in Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry and Australia's Stephanie Rice, Hosszu fashioned a dominant swim. She opened with a slight lead in the fly and maintained a sliver of an edge over Coventry after 100 meters of the back as Rice fell off the pace.

Coventry edged in front by 0.11 after the breaststroke, but Hosszu made up that time just meters into the final 100 of free. With 50 to go, Hosszu had taken control of the race and she swam home alone in first. Her time made her the third fastest ever in the race, behind only the women she beat Sunday.

Mellouli, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist in the 1500m freestyle who won silvers earlier this meet in the 400m and 800m free, was in the middle of the pack after the first 400 meters of the mile on Sunday. But at the halfway point of the race, Mellouli started to surge and slowly reeled in the pack ahead.

Mellouli edged into first at the 950 mark, but Canadian Ryan Cochrane re-claimed first after 1050 meters. His lead was shortlived, however, as Mellouli responded to the challenge and grabbed first for good 100 meters later. Cochrane stayed close, but a strong final 100 clinched it as Mellouli won in 14:37.28 to Cochrane's 14:41.38.

Soni, the 2009 World Championship gold medalist in the 100m breast who came achingly close to winning the 200m breast before falling to fourth in the race's final meters, bounced back in a strong way to win silver in the 50m breast.

A race competed on the international scene but not in the U.S., Soni nevertheless turned in a superb swim, winning silver in 30.11, a hair behind gold-medal winner Yuliya Efimova's world record 30.09. Aussie Sarah Katsoulis was third (30.16).

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