Los Angeles, CA USA
One of the breakout stars of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team, three-time Olympic medalist and 2009 senior co-captain Rebecca Soni enters her final collegiate season as the top breaststroker in the country and among the top 2 breaststrokers in the world. Soni is the three-time defending NCAA champion in the 200y breast and the defending champion in the 100y breast ... She is also a staple of USC's medley relays. She holds USC records in the 100 (yards, lcm) and 200 breast (yards, lcm, scm) as well as the 200y and 400y medley relays. She reset her own NCAA record in the 200y breast at the 2008 Pac-10 Championships.
Soni had a monumental 2008 season, dominating first the NCAA breaststroke ranks before taking on the country and then the world. Her season was capped off by a three-medal performance at the 2008 Olympics, where she won the gold medal in the 200-meter breast in a world record time (2:20.22). Her gold came just days after winning a silver medal in the 100m breast (1:06.73) and was soon followed by a silver on the U.S. 4x100m medley relay (Soni was not originally scheduled to swim the 100y breast at the Olympics but was put into the race after a U.S. teammate was forced to bow out) ... At the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, Soni won the 200m breast in 2:22.60, becoming the third-fastest woman ever at the time. The lifetime best came in a wire-to-wire win. Earlier in the meet, Soni was fourth in the 100m breast (1:07.80). Her prelim time of 1:06.87 was a personal best ... Soni won both the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke at the 2008 NCAA Championships ... Her title in the 200y breast (in an NCAA meet record 2:06.32) was her third consecutive NCAA title in the event, making her just the third woman ever to win the event three times in a row ... Her NCAA title in the 100y breast (59.19) was her first (and USC's first) after a sixth-place finish as a sophomore and a second as a freshman ... Soni, USC's first swimmer to win two NCAA titles in the same season since Kaitlin Sandeno in 2004, also earned All-American honors as part of USC's 400y medley relay. She did all of this less than two years after undergoing surgery to correct a rapid heartbeat condition ... Soni's season-best and NCAA record 2:06.11 in the 200y breast, which came during her 2008 Pac-10 title-winning swim, is the second-fastest ever in the event, behind only Tara Kirk's 2:05.73 ... Like she did at the NCAA Championships, Soni also won the 100y breast at the Pac-10 Championships (to give her four Pac-10 titles for her career). She re-set her own school record with a time of 58.98, also becoming just the fourth woman ever to go under 59 seconds in the race ... Soni was also tabbed a 2008 Honda Award finalist ... One of USC's top student-athletes, she earned Pac-10 All-Academic honorable mention honors.
Soni underwent minor heart surgery in the summer prior to the 2006-07 season which limited her training, but she still put together a strong sophomore campaign ... She successfully defended her NCAA Championships crown in the 200y breast, winning in 2:08.23. She reached the final again of the 100y breast, taking sixth (1:00.63). She also raced in the 400y IM ... At the 2007 Pac-10 Championships, Soni was second in the 200y breast (2:09.92) and fourth in the 100y breast (1:01.40). She was also 11th in the 400y IM (4:18.38) ... At the U.S. vs. Australia Duel in the Pool in April, Soni was second in the breast (2:24.70) and third in the 100m breast (1:07.81), breaking USC records (lcm) in both events ... At the 2007 U.S. Summer Nationals, Soni won national titles in the 100m (1:07.06) and 200m breast (2:23.62, U.S. Summer Nationals record), the second and third of her career ... At the Japan International, the final major international meet of the 2007 season, Soni posted a pair of seconds in the 100m (1:06.15) and 200m breast (2:23.26), both then-personal bests. She became only the sixth woman ever to go under 1:07 in the 100m breast.
Soni put together the top season for a Trojan breaststroker in a decade as a 2006 freshman, winning an NCAA title in the 200y breast and capturing Pac-10 crowns in the 100y and 200y breast. She was a three-time All-American at the NCAA Championships, winning the 200y breast (2:09.37), taking second in the 100y breast (1:00.07) and helping USC to second in the 400y medley relay in a school record 3:33.97 ... She won her Pac-10 titles with a 1:00.10 in the 100y breast and set a school-record 2:08.16 in the 200y breast... She set the school record in the 100y breast with a 59.96 against California and helped the 200y medley relay post a school record in a win over UCLA (1:39.97) ... Soni was unbeaten in the 200y breast on the season ... In addition to posting USC's fastest breaststroke times, she also posted USC's top times in the 200y IM (2:00.33) and 400y IM (4:15.33) ... At the 2006 Short Course World Championships, Soni was fourth in the 200m breast (2:24.06) ... Despite having minor heart surgery during the summer, Soni still raced at the 2006 U.S. Summer Nationals, she was 10th in both the 100m and 200m breast.
Soni was the 2005 U.S. national champion in the 200m breast after her final year competing at West Windsor-Plainsboro North in Plainsboro, N.J. ... The New Jersey state record holder in the 100y and 200y breast, Soni was ranked among the top 25 in the world in the 100m and 200m breaststroke throughout the 2005 season ... She won a pair of silver medals at the 2005 U.S. World University Games, taking second in both the 100m (1:08.77) and 200m breast (2:27.84) and seventh in the 50m breast (32.71) ... She made the WUG team after placing third in third in the 200y breast (2:27.83) and fourth in the 100y breast (1:09.20) at the 2005 U.S. World Championships Trials ... She was a 2004 Olympic Trials semifinalist in the 200m breaststroke and was second in the event at the 2004 U.S. Summer Nationals. She was also a two-time finalist at the 2003 Summer Nationals ... She was a Scholastic All-American.