Since she was 16, she would experience heartbeat irregularities once or twice a month, always during training.While she was getting sets in, her heart would start to beat rapidly, often more than 300 times a minute.There are no variations."She's got one gear," Salo said."She can't play around and say 'let me stretch things out' or 'do this nice and smooth and then come on.' Her stroke is so unique that she's gotta keep it revved up pretty high, otherwise it becomes inefficient."She's a real simple engine."There was a point where Soni's engine had a serious spark plug issue.
A couple times a week leading up to the 2012 Olympics, American swimmer Rebecca Soni would leave the small condo she shares here with boyfriend Ricky Berens, walk the eight blocks toward The Strand and set off on her own into the salt water. Olympic assistant and USC head coach doesn't often recommend the practice for world-class swimmers, but he prescribed it for her in May as a way to relax and taper off from her more intense two-a-day swim sessions as London approached.
She used to let those little daily losses affect her outside the pool and at the next day's practice sessions.
Not anymore."I haven't found anything good that comes from that," Soni said in a June interview.
At Salo's last job with the Irvine Novaquatics swim club, one of his assistants, Ken La Mont, chose to deal with the condition for decades rather than risk the surgery. Salo had a reputation as an unorthodox breaststroke coach, and she was worried he'd change her training and try to adjust her stroke.
Salo was hired out of Irvine by USC when Mark Schubert moved on to become the USA Swimming director. The situation didn't get any better as time went on.