U.S. Olympic Trials: Rebecca Soni Scorches 200 Breast Prelims

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OMAHA, Nebraska, June 29. REBECCA Soni, who fell to Breeja Larson in an upset in the women's 100 breast earlier in the week, returned to competition this morning with a vengeance as she looks to defend her 200 breast title at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.

Soni charted a time of 2:23.11 in the final of 13 heats, just a second off her world-leading season best of 2:22.22. Soni won the event in Omaha last time around with a 2:22.60 with Amanda Beard making her fourth Olympic team with a second-place finish at the time. Soni, the defending Olympic champion in the event as well, has much more in the tank with a textile best time of 2:20.69. She could be looking for Annamay Pierse's world record of 2:20.12 or Leisel Jones textile best of 2:20.54 at some point this week. Soni split a 1:08.95, which would have been good enough to make semifinals in the 100 breast.

Beard, the defending silver medalist from Trials in 2008, made the top eight again this year with a 2:27.07 heading into semifinals. She's looking for a fifth Olympic appearance after swimming in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 with two Olympic gold medals, four silvers and a bronze to her credit.

SwimMAC's Micah Lawrence nearly reached her personal best of 2:24.62 in the event with a 2:24.95 to earn the second seed. She took 17th in the race in 2008, just missing semifinals, and will be looking to replicate her 2011 Summer Nationals victory. Andrea Kropp (2:25.77) and Laura Sogar (2:26.23) placed third and fourth, while Haley Spencer (2:27.90) took sixth.

Caitlin Leverenz, who already made the team with a win in the 200 IM and a second-place time in the 400 IM, qualified seventh in 2:28.26. She wound up third in the event in 2008 behind Soni and Beard. Annie Zhu comprised the rest of the top eight with a 2:28.72.

Notably, 100 breast victor Breeja Larson qualified 10th in 2:29.23, while veteran Keri Hehn, 31, raced to 13th with a 2:29.97. Additionally, Tennessee's Kirstyn Colonias blasted a 2:30.09 from heat 7 of 13 to make semis in 14th.

The Semifinalists:
Rebecca Soni — 2:23.11
Micah Lawrence — 2:24.95
Andrea Kropp — 2:25.77
Laura Sogar — 2:26.23
Amanda Beard — 2:27.07
Haley Spencer — 2:27.90
Caitlin Leverenz — 2:28.26
Annie Zhu — 2:28.72
Michelle McKeehan — 2:28.76
Breeja Larson — 2:29.23
Emma Schoettmer — 2:29.24
Katy Freeman — 2:29.48
Keri Hehn — 2:29.97
Kirstyn Colonias — 2:30.09
Brittany Kimmitt — 2:30.17
Anne Lazor — 2:30.19

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