By John Lohn
OMAHA, Nebraska, July 4. HEADING into the final of the 100 breaststroke, Rebecca Soni was expected to nail down a slot to Beijing. It didn't happen. Soni didn't find the same heartbreak in the 200 breast. Swimming her favorite race, Soni was under world-record pace at the 100-meter mark and finished just shy of the American record with a time of 2:22.60.
Having won the national championship last summer in Indianapolis, Soni took the race out quickly, splitting 1:08.51 at the midway point. She continued to power through the water on the final two laps, showing the field her heels. When Soni touched the wall, she was just off the American mark of 2:22.44 and had the second-fastest time in the world this year.
Claiming the second Olympic berth was Amanda Beard, who will now be making her fourth straight appearance in an Olympic Games. In the months leading up to the Trials, there were questions as to whether Beard had put in the necessary training to be a factor in Omaha. There are no longer any doubts. Beard produced a time of 2:25.13 to hold off third-place finisher Caitlin Leverenz (2:25.98).
"Rebecca's crazy, super fast and now I get to train with her," Beard said. "Hopefully, we'll get gold and silver in the pool."
The fourth position went to Keri Hehn, who managed a time of 2:26.89, ahead of the fifth-place time posted by Megan Jendrick. Qualified for Beijing in the 100 breast, Jendrick touched in 2:27.85. Ariana Kukors was sixth in 2:28.55 and seventh and eighth went to Elle Weberg (2:28.67) and Laura Sogar (2:30.05).