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Soni's Speedy Footnote: 2:23.11 In Heats

Jun 29, 2012  - Craig Lord

Olympic champion Rebecca Soni wrote a footnote in swimming history this morning at US Olympic trials in Omaha: her 2:23.11 in the 200m breaststroke is the swiftest ever prelims swim ever (all suits) in domestic competition anywhere in the world and faster than any prelims swim ever in international competition in textile suit. 

The morning was also marked by the further progress of Ryan Lochte, coached by Gregg Troy at the Gators in Florida. Lochte set up two more shots at the London 2012 podium via US team qualification this morning: after a 1:57.24 in the 200m backstroke heats, the world champion and record holder cruised to a 1:59.92 in the 200m medley prelims. Connor Dwyer led the way in the medley on 1:59.11, Olympic champion Michael Phelps on 1:59.27.

Olympic champion Lochte led the way in 200m backstroke heats in heat 11. he had watched Tyler Clary set the pace at 1:57.93 ahead of Nick Thoman, 1:59.24, in the heat before and Matt Grevers lead Ryan Murphy on 1:58.90 to 1:59.03 in heat 9.

For speedy morning efforts, non topped Soni's. Coached by Dave Salo at Trojan in California, she has been faster this season, on 2:22.22 and 2:22.73 in finals in May and January respectively.

This morning here at the Century Link Convention Centre, the world champion edged towards the defence of her Olympic crown with a smooth, flat-lining affair that suggested a level of confidence beyond that she took with her into a nervy 100m final earlier in the week.

Then, she lost out to worldwide bolter of the season Breeja Larson, but made the team, the time, stunning for Larson but outside the best 10 textile career efforts for Soni. 

Asked after her heats swim if she tapered for the meet, Soni, coached by Dave Salo at Trojan in California, laughed and said "I think so … I don't really know … I trust Dave and leave it to him to decide what's best for me". 

Nervous for the 100m, she felt more at ease this morning, the 100m having helped her shake off the cobwebs and get the task of making the team out of the way.

Soni's effort in heat 13, off a 1:08.95 split, followed a 2:24.95 from Micah Lawrence ion heat 11 ahead of Andrea Kopp, on 2:25.77.  Among those who also made it through to thje semis was 2004 Olympic champions Amanda Beard, on 2:27.07 in heat 12, and Larson, in 10th on 2:29.23, a lifetime best and first sub-2:30 effort, 2:31.36 from May this year having been her previous high tide.

Soni was the first of two Hungarian themes in the 200m breaststroke this morning. If the leader is of Magyar descent, then Allie Szekely, who won the swim off for a place in the semis, shares a name with the 1952 Olympic 200m breaststroke champion for Hungary Eva Szekely. Young Allie confirmed her Hungarian ancestry but was unaware of any close family tie to the 1952 champ.

The session started with 131 women racing in the 100m freestyle. Leading the way into semis was Dana Vollmer, on 54.35 in heat 12 ahead of Jessica hardy, on 54.52. Amanda Weir followed on 54.65 in heat 13 before Allison Schmitt led Margo Geer 54.49 to 54.62, with Missy Franklin on 54.78, in the last of 14 heats.