American breaststroking superstar Rebecca Soni has announced her retirement from swimming, ending a limbo that she’s been in having not competed since winning gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics.
The 26-year old Soni, who is a native of New Jersey but now calls California home, has three Olympic gold medals, and three silvers, to her credit. The golds include back-to-back wins of the 200 breaststroke at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. In that 2012 race, she broke the World Record, clearing an Annamay Pierce mark that had been done during the rubber-suit era. In the process, Soni’s 2:19.59 in finals opened a flood-gate of sorts, as the 2:20 barrier no longer stands as sturdy as it once did. Two women have gone under Soni’s old World Record since she last competed.
“Achieving my dream of going below two minutes and 20 seconds in the 200m breaststroke really put the storybook ending on my career,” said Soni. “I know I’ve conquered my goals in the pool, and now it’s time to conquer something else.”
The former USC Trojan ended her career on a high note, winning golds in her last two career swims (the 200 breast and the 400 medley relay).
After the Olympics, Soni announced that she would be taking a year off from swimming to explore academic options and to deal with back pain that had been plaguing her. She remained in the USADA drug testing pool, the only official measure of a swimmer’s retirement, throughout, however.
Soni, along with fellow Olympian Ariana Kukors, has now launched a “The Atlas Ventures” company, that they hope will inspire healthy attitudes and encourage exploration in young fans.
“Before I move away from swimming too much, I want to take the time to give back,” said Soni. “The swimming community has become my family and I want to do my best to inspire the next generation and to share some of the things I’ve learned.”
Soni was also a six-time NCAA Champion in her career, and still holds World Records as part of the 400 medley relays in both short course and long course meters. She’s also the American Record holder in 5 different events, including the 200 breast in long course meters and the 100 and 200 breaststrokes in short course meters.