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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Olympics Preview: 3 Former Trojan Swimmers Bring Winning Tradition To London Games

Jeremy Fuster |
July 13, 2012 | 9:27 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

As the world counts down the final days to the 2012 London Olympics, Neon Tommy is here to get you acquainted with the 33 Trojans that will be going for the gold this year. We begin our preview with three swimmers who have enjoyed success as NCAA, Olympic, and World champions. 

Rebecca Soni (jdlasica/Creative Commons)
Rebecca Soni (jdlasica/Creative Commons)

Rebecca Soni (USA): In the past six years, Rebecca Soni has developed into one of the greatest breaststroke swimmers of all time, and she has the resume to prove it. As a Trojan from 2006-09, she became the first woman in collegiate history to win the NCAA title in the 200-yard breaststroke for four consecutive years. For good measure, she also won the title in the 100-yard breast in 2008 and 2009. Soni kept her amazing streak going in international competition, winning an Olympic gold medal in Beijing by setting a then-world record time in the 200-meter breast, as well as earning silver medals in the 100-meter breast and 4 x 100-meter medley relay. At last year's World Championships, she won the gold in all three of those events, adding to the 100-meter breast world title she won in 2009. As Soni enters this year's Olympics, she will do so as one of the USA's greatest hopes for swimming gold.

EVENTS: 100-meter breaststroke: July 29-30; 200-meter breaststroke: August 1-2.

Katinka Hosszu (Hungary): Four months ago, Katinka Hosszu ended her USC career by helping the Women of Troy finish third at the NCAA championships and winning two individual titles in the 400-yard individual medley and the 200-yard freestyle.

Katinka Hosszu (gianlucka_rvn/Creative Commons)
Katinka Hosszu (gianlucka_rvn/Creative Commons)
 With all said and done, the versatile Hungarian finished her time at Troy with five NCAA titles, seven school records, 17 All-American honors, and the 2011 Honda Award for best collegiate female swimmer. Hosszu also found success at the 2009 World Championships, taking the gold in the 400-meter individual medley and the bronze in the 200-meter individual medley and 200-meter butterfly. Still, an Olympic medal has remained beyond her grasp, and as she prepares for her third Olympic appearance, this may be her best chance to get one.

EVENTS: 400-meter individual medley (July 28); 200-meter individual medley (July 30-31); 200-meter butterfly (July 31-August 1); 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay (August 1).

Ous Mellouli (Tunisia): A 2007 USC graduate with a B.A. in computer engineering, Oussama Mellouli is a swimmer whose career has been marked with both victory and controversy.

(itsagooddaybob/Creative Commons)
(itsagooddaybob/Creative Commons)
In 2005, he won the NCAA title in the 400-yard individual, and today he also holds three school records and 16 All-American honors.  However, in 2006, he received an 18-month suspension when he tested positive for Adderall, an ADD medication that Mellouli claimed he used to help him write a term paper and not to enhance his swimming ability. When his suspension came to an end, Mellouli had only two weeks to qualify for the Beijing Olympics, while dealing with a pair of herniated disks in his back that had significantly limited his training. Despite these obstacles, he would go on to not only qualify, but win a gold medal in the 1500-meter freestyle, becoming the first African to win the gold in an individual swimming event.  This year, he competes as a freestyle specialist and hopes to add several more gold medals to his name.

EVENTS: 200-meter freestyle (July 29-30); 400-meter freestyle (July 28); 1500-meter freestyle (August 3-4); 10k marathon (August 10).

Reach Staff Reporter Jeremy Fuster here.



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