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SHANGHAI, China, July 25. THE incomparable Rebecca Soni clipped her textile best in the women's 100 breast semifinal rounds at the FINA World Long Course Championships.
Soni clocked a 1:04.91 in the semifinal round, bettering her previous textile best of 1:04.93 from the 2010 Pan Pacific Championship. The time is the third-fastest ever behind Jessica Hardy's world record of 1:04.45, and another Soni time of 1:04.84 from the 2009 World Championships. The effort is Soni's fourth sub-1:05 time, and puts her in a strong position to defend her world title. Hardy's world record is the only time also under 1:05.
"I am pleased," Soni said. "I just want to have that final race, and I'm not worried about anything else. I am not obsessed by medals, because it would put me under much pressure. If I get it, it's great. If I don't, it's fine."
Australia's Leisel Jones, the third-fastest performer ever with a 1:05.09 to her credit, qualified second in 1:06.66. China's Ji Liping took the third seed in 1:07.09, while Denmark's Rikke Pedersen placed fourth in 1:07.13.
"It's a good swim," Jones said. "I am looking forward to tomorrow. I'll do best job I can. I have to be pretty quick. I know [Soni's] going to do a very quick time, and I'm very well prepared for that. She's going to be extremely tough to beat."
China's Sun Ye (1:07.25), Canada's Jillian Tyler (1:07.28), Russia's Yuliya Efimova (1:07.53) and The Netherlands' Moniek Nijhuis (1:07.60) also earned lanes in the championship heat.
The 2009 podium is still mostly in tact with Soni and Efimova (silver) still vying for the world title. Bronze medalist Kasey Carlson of the U.S. did not qualify for the team and could be seen competing in a USA Swimming Sectional this past weekend.