NJ Olympic champion's swim coach shares memories

August 3, 2012 2:02:58 PM PDT
New Jersey is celebrating its golden girl.

Swimmer Rebecca Soni, from Plainsboro, won gold in London.

She did it in grand-fashion, breaking world records doing it.

Her childhood coach is celebrating and has kept in touch with Rebecca while she's in London.

Someone in Jersey knew this was a golden moment.

"She was long and smooth, it was a perfect race," said Tom Speedling, swimming coach.

Five years of training that helped mold Rebecca into an Olympic gold medalist happened right in New Jersey, on the campus of Rutgers when she was barely a teenager, swimming with a local swim club.

Tom Speedling is the coach of the Scarlet Aquatics Club, and signed Rebecca up.

"She was 13 years old and quiet. I asked her how her breast stroke was, and her sister had to answer for her," Speedling said.

She may not have spoken much, but she swam a lot, won a lot, and broke records quite often.

The trophy case just outside the pool that was Rebecca's training ground is filled with her certificates.

It even includes one for the first time she broke the 200 meter world record.

Rebecca and former coach Speedling were texting each other before and after her big win in London.

"I told her good luck, she said she wanted to get under 220," Speedling said.

Rebecca attended USC on a full scholarship, and blossomed into an Olympian, but her roots are in New Jersey.

It's where her hopes and dreams were just budding under a coach who knew Rebecca would stand out.

"Her work ethic, never missed practice, put the work into that she needed," Speedling said.

All of these years later, her hard work paid off in gold and record shattering performances for the country.

WAKE UP WITH EYEWITNESS NEWS! Click here to download the WABC Eyewitness News Alarm Clock app from iTunes. or search WABC or 7online in the app store.

Get Eyewitness News Delivered

Facebook | Twitter | Newsletters | Text Alerts