LONDON -- Rebecca Soni of the United States set a world record in the 200-meter breaststroke semifinals at the London Olympics on Wednesday.
Soni timed 2 minutes, 20.00 seconds, shaving 0.12 seconds off the previous mark by Annamay Pierse of Canada at the 2009 world championships in Rome in a now-banned bodysuit.
"If I feel good, I don't want to hold back. I shouldn't," Soni said. "I just went for the last 50 and I started to hear the crowd halfway through and just kept going with it.
"It's been four years since I swam close to that fast, so it's great to be back on top like that."
It was the fifth world record in the pool at these Games.
Rikke Pedersen of Denmark qualified second in 2:22.23, and Satomi Suzuki of Japan was third in 2:22.40.
The top eight finishers qualified for Thursday's final.
Soni also was favored to win the 100 breast but took silver behind surprise 15-year-old winner Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania.
Meilutyte did not enter the 200.