By Sharon Robb
August 26, 2014—South Florida Aquatic Club’s Alia Atkinson, coming off the Commonwealth Games, will resume her international schedule Wednesday at the FINA/Mastbank Swimming World Cup at the Hamad Aquatic Centre in Doha, Qatar.
The three-time Jamaican Olympian will compete in the 50-meter breaststroke on Day One and 100-meter breaststroke and 100-meter individual medley on Day Two.
Atkinson will be joined by her longtime SOFLO coach Chris Anderson. The pair have been training at Academic Village Pool in Pembroke Pines since she brought home a silver and bronze medal in her third Commonwealth Games appearance in Scotland.
Doha is the first stop in the 2014 calendar with the competition moving to Dubai for Cluster One, Hong Kong and Moscow for Cluster Two and Beijing, Tokyo and Singapore for Cluster Three over two months from August to early November.
The field has 150 swimmers from 30 countries including two of the top three men’s finishers and all three women’s finishers on the 2013 World Cup circuit. The competition pool is 25 meters.
Atkinson finished second in the standings behind three-time Hungarian Olympian Katinka Hosszu, reigning World Cup series champion. Hosszu set six world records and won 32 events to total 537 points. Atkinson took home her biggest paycheck in swimming.
Eight Americans, coming off senior nationals and Pan Pacific Championships, are also entered. They are Breeja Larson, Josh Schneider, Mike Alexandrov, Eugene Godsoe, Laura Sogar, Cody Miller and Caitlin Leverenz.
Atkinson and Larson, a former and current Texas A&M swimmer, will go head-to-head in the 50-meter breaststroke and 100-meter individual medley.
Other top international swimmers entered are reigning World Cup champion Chad le Clos, Steffen Deibler, Roland Schoeman, Inge Dekker, Mireia Belmonte, Daniel Gyurta, Ous Mellouli, Robert Hurley, Marieke D’Cruz, Daryna Zevina and Bolles alum George Bovell of Trinidad and Tobago.
Mellouli, representing Tunisia, was unable to compete at Pan Pacs because his visa arrived late.
Nearly $2 million in prize money will be distributed during the seven-meet series. First place finishers win $1,500, runner-up earns $1,000 and third place gets $500.
The first cluster that includes Doha and Dubai later this week, will award $300,000 in overall prize money. The money will be distributed among the six highest scoring men and women in each cluster, depending on whether they compete in each meet in that particular cluster.
Each world record swims earns 20 bonus points.
Qatar is pulling out all stops to make sure the meet is successful.
“We have so many fantastic swimmers here,” said Khaleel al-Jabir, president of the Qatar Swimming Association.
“As the first stop in the series we know that swimmers are looking to put their training to the test at our world-class swimming facility. It’s also a great chance for fans around the world to celebrate the sport of swimming and all the hard work these athletes put in.”
FINA officials are using Atkinson’s image in his promotional material for the series including huge posters at the host hotel and pool. She is also featured on the cover of the Team Leaders guide.
The FINA website is live-streaming the meet.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org