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OMAHA, Nebraska, June 26. AFTER a preliminary qualifying which had the field giving Rebecca Soni their best shot, the undisputed best breaststroker in the world reminded everyone just who she is with a world-leading time in the women's 100 breast at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
Soni ripped off a 1:05.82 for the win, edging her top time this year of 1:05.85, and breaking her preliminary Trials record of 1:06.33. She had to post that time in prelims after Texas A&M's Breeja Larson initially erased Soni's 2008 Trials record in prelims with a 1:06.52. Soni, who officially finished fourth in 2008 with a 1:07.80 in 2008 before making the team in the 200 breast with a win, is looking for her initial triumph in the shorter distance event at Trials.
Jessica Hardy, who originally won this event in 2008 with a 1:06.87 before being suspended for a year for testing positive for clenbuterol at this meet, is looking for redemption after being cleared to compete for an Olympic berth with the IOC Rule 45 being overturned last year. She threw down a 1:06.88 in semis for the second seed, nearly what it took to win four years ago. Her best time this year is a 1:06.12.
Larson, who put a scare into the field in prelims with her sub-1:07, wound up third out of semis with a time of 1:07.00. She is competing in her first Olympic Trials after winning the 100-yard breast earlier this year at the NCAA Championships.
Ashley Wanland (1:07.23), Annie Chandler (1:07.34), Micah Lawrence (1:07.64) and Emily McClellan (1:07.70) also earned their way into the finale. Amanda Beard, who is looking for her fifth Olympic appearance, will have to wait for the 200 breast for another shot after taking 10th in 1:07.92.