WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
November 9, 2013
Alia Atkinson continued to dominate her signature event on the opening day of the FINA World Cup Series in Tokyo.
The three-time Jamaican Olympian and South Florida Aquatic Club swimmer won the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:02.99, just missing her national record of 1:02.91.
Atkinson finished ahead of world record holder Yulia Efimova of Russia, second in a season-best 1:03.02. Atkinson is second in the overall rankings behind Ruta Meilutyte and Efimova is third.
Atkinson’s performance on Saturday was ranked tied for second with Aussie Alicia Coutts, both with 986 points as top performer.
Atkinson and SOFLO coach Chris Anderson were awakened in their hotel rooms when an earthquake of the magnitude of 5.5 hit Tokyo in Sunday morning, around 7:30, less than two hours before prelims.
According to several news sources including Yahoo, there were no immediate reports of damage although some of Japan’s bullet trains were shut down as a precaution.
“Well that was my first earthquake,” Anderson tweeted. “I hope there is still water in the pool.”
On Sunday, if there is still water in the pool, Atkinson will compete in the 50-meter breaststroke and 100-meter individual medley.
Atkinson, competing for the first time in every meet in the series, is having some of the best showings of her career and is having a breakout on the World Cup circuit.
Last week she broke her own national record in the 50-meter breaststroke in 28.94, bettering her previous best of 29.21. It was the second fastest time in the world this year and just 0.14 off the world record American Jessica Hardy (28.80) set in 2009. She also won gold in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:03.48 and took a bronze in the 100-yard individual medley in 58.42.
Atkinson emerged as the leading female swimmer of the Singapore leg, outshining Hungarian Katinka Hosszu and bettering her personal best for 985 points. Atkinson’s breaststroke swim was the best performance of the meet. Hosszu was runner-up with 982 points.
The last stage of the FINA World Cup will be held in Beijing, Nov. 13-14.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org