By Sharon Robb
February 12, 2015—World record holder Alia Atkinson, swimming in her first meet since the short course world championships in December, took up where she left off winning her signature event on opening night of the Arena Pro Swim Series at the Orlando YMCA Aquatic Center.
The three-time Jamaican Olympian from South Florida Aquatic Club won the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:06.79, equaling her career-best time swum in a swim-off at the 2012 London Olympics.
It was the fastest time in the world this year and would have been a Top 10 time last year.
Atkinson, 26, won by more than two seconds ahead of Molly Hannis, 22, of Tennessee Aquatics in 1:08.02. Melanie Margalis, 23, of St. Petersburg was third in 1:09.20.
Atkinson, second fastest morning qualifier in a non-tech suit, looked smooth in the water. She was aggressive from the start going out in 31.3. She led from wire-to-wire with two solid 50s including the fastest back-half of the field. She pocketed $1,000 in prize money for first and five points for the series.
“I’ve been working on the last 25 and pushing harder in the last 25,” Atkinson said. “It worked coming home. I am happy with my race.”
SOFLO teammates Valentina Artemova, 28, was sixth in 1:12.03 after going 1:11.15 in prelims and Bermuda national record holder Lisa Blackburn was eighth in the “B” final in 1:13.86 after going 1:12.86 in the morning.
“We are doing pretty well, we swam really fast,” SOFLO head coach Chris Anderson said. “Alia had a good race, it’s all about confidence. She is way faster than she was last year at this time. I was very happy with Lisa, that was her fastest time in a couple years.
“This is by far our strongest showing ever at a grand prix,” Anderson said. “To have a relay compete and compete well and have our kids finishing and closing out the races in our first long course meet, we are way ahead of the game.
“It’s exciting and fun and I’m glad it is happening. We are on the right path for sure. We have been noticed as a club.”
It was also an outstanding night on the national stage for several other Florida swimmers.
South African two-time Olympian Sebastien Rousseau, 24, of Gator Swim Club won the 400-meter individual medley in 4:19.71, three seconds ahead of Tyler Clary, 25, of SwimMAC.
“This is my first long course meet of the year and I was looking for a solid swim,” Rousseau said.
Florida state alum Pavel Sankovich of Club Seminole came from behind to win the 100-meter butterfly by a half second in 52.55.
“I didn’t expect much but I am really happy with my result,” Sankovich said. “It’s a good sign at this time of the year.”
Bolles alum and Bahamian Olympian Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace was second in the 100-meter butterfly, just getting edged out by Audrey Lacroix, 31, of Canada, 59.62-1:00.71.
Melanie Margalis, 23, of St. Petersburg was third in the 400-meter individual medley in 4:41.29. American record holder Katie Hoff of Hurricane Aquatics, competing in the event for the first time since 2010, was fifth in 4:48.67, bettering her morning time of 4:49.52.
Azura Florida Aquatics was third in the men’s 400-meter freestyle relay in 3:32.63 with Elias Mehrdad, 22, Carlos Herrera, 20, Mateo Gonzalez, 18, and Fernando Alatorre, 16.
Gonzalez also swam back-to-back best times in prelims and finals of the 100-meter butterfly. He won the “B” final in a career-best 54.59 bettering his morning time of 55.15. His previous best was 56.03.
It was a Florida-based swimmer sweep in the “B” final of the 200-meter freestyle. Venezuela’s Andreina Pinto of Gator Swim Club won in 2:02.15. Vietnam’s Vien Nguyen of St. Augustine was second in 2:02.20. Megan Moroney of St. Andrew’s Swimming was third in 2:03.14.
Olympian Elizabeth Beisel of Gator Swim Club, still plagued with a nagging groin injury suffered in the Arena Pro Swim Series in Austin, scratched. Beisel joined Rowdy Gaines in the Universal Sports broadcast booth and commentated on some of the races including the 400 IM. Beisel said she has two to three more weeks of rehab. Floridian Ryan Lochte also scratched from his events.
In other championship finals:
Women’s 200 freestyle: In a Commonwealth battle, Scotland’s two-time Olympian Hannah Miley, 25, pulled away in the last ten meters to win in 2:00.31. Canadian Sam Cheverton, 26, was second in 2:01.16.
Men’s 200-meter freestyle: Brazilian Joao de Lucca of Cardinal Aquatics won in 1:47.98. Florida alum Conor Dwyer, in the middle of heavy training, was second in 1:48.94.
“That was a really good race,” de Lucca said. “My experience gives me confidence. This is a very tough meet. I saw Conor was coming but I wasn’t paying attention to anyone else. I was just doing my own race.”
Men’s 100-meter breaststroke: Cody Miller, 23, of Badger Swim Club shaved for the meet and topped an impressive men’s field to win in 59.92, second fastest time in the world this year. He was the only swimmer to break a minute. Felipe Lima, 29, of Auburn Aquatics, who used to train in South Florida, led at the turn.
“The time and the win and being shaved helps, that was the whole goal,” Miller said. “Putting up one of the fastest times in the world this early I’m pretty happy. My finish wasn’t that great but overall I’m really happy.”
Women’s 100-meter butterfly: Canadian Audrey Lacroix,31, won in 59.62. “It was really good to have a really fast swimmer (Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace) beside me in the front end of the race. It gave me a little push.”
Women’s 400-meter individual medley: Miley won her second event of the night in 4:36.74. “I got what I wanted out of this race,” she said. “It felt really good. It means I can progress now from here on.”
The meet is the third stop on the 2014-15 Arena Pro Swim Series. Universal Sports Network will televise the meet Friday at 6 p.m.
Friday’s events are: 200-meter butterfly, 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter backstroke, 400-meter freestyle, 200-meter breaststroke, and 800-meter freestyle relay.
Swimmers are competing for $1,000 and five points for first, $600 for second and three points and $200 for third and one point. A total of $300,000 in prize money is being offered.
1.Hannah Miley, Garioch 2:00.31, 2. Sam Cheverton, Pointe-Claire 2:01.16, 3. Katie Drabot, Ozaukee Aquatics 2:01.26; FLORIDA: 9. Andreina Pinto, Venezuela/Gator Swim Club 2:02.15, 10. Vien Nguyen, St. Augustine 2:02.20, 11. Megan Moroney, St. Andrew’s Swimming 2:03.14, 15. Reilly Lanigan, Patriot Aquatics 2:05.66, 18. Kendall Brent, Swim Florida 2:04.75, 19. Katie Duggan, Highlander 2:05.20, 21. Peyton Palsha, St. Petersburg 2:06.24, 24. Sophie Cattermole, Sarasota YMCA 2:07.67, 28. Manu Andrade, Bolles 2:06.91, 29. Ellie Berdusco, Sarasota YMCA 2:06.98, 31. Summer Finke, St. Petersburg 2:07.59, 44. Melissa Marinheiro, SOFLO2:08.73, 54. Alia Atkinson, SOFLO 2:09.91
1.Alia Atkinson, South Florida Aquatic Club 1:06.79, 2. Molly Hannis, Tennessee Aquatics 1:08.02, 3. Melanie Margalias, St. Petersburg 1:09.20; FLORIDA: 6. Valentina Artemeva, SOFLO 1:12.03, 10. Hilda Luthersdottir, Gator Swim Club 1:10.75, 11. Justine Bowker, T2 Aquatics 1:11.38, 12. Raminta Dvariskyte, Bolles 1:12.57, 15. Dani Keymont, Central Brevard 1:13.32, 16. Lisa Blackburn, SOFLO 1:13.86, 20. Caitlin Ahern, Swim Fort Lauderdale 1:14.13, 22. Patricia Casellas, Azura 1:14.60, 27. Olga Lapteva, Bolles 1:15.08, 29. Rachael Bradford-Feldman, St. Andrew’s Swimming 1:15.77, 30. Christin Rockway, Tampa Bay 1:16.06.
1.Audrey Lacroix, St. Lambert 59.62, 2. Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, SwimMAC 1:00.71, 3. Lauren Quigley,Great Britain 1:00.89; FLORIDA: 8. Svetlana Khakhlova, Club Seminole 1:02.85, 9. Kayla Tennant, T2 Aquatics 1:01.67, 11. Justine Bowker, T2 Aquatics 1:02.33, 16. Claire Maiocco, Trinity Prep 1:04.43, 19. Alia Atkinson, SOFLO 1:02.17, 21. Megan Moroney, St. Andrew’s Swimming 1:02.63, 23. Darby Goodwin, St. Andrew’s Swimming 1:03.62, 25. Madison Jean, Sarasota YMCA 1:03.23, 30. Ellie Berdusco, Sarasota 1:04.07, 31. Chloe Miller, Bolles 1:04.76.
400-meter individual medley
1.Hannah Miley, Garioch 4:36.74, 2. Caitlin Leverenz, Cal Aquatics 4:40.63, 3. Melanie Margalis, St. Petersburg 4:41.29; FLORIDA: 4. Vien Nguyen, St. Augustine 4:43.09, 5. Katie Hoff, Hurricane Aquatics 4:48.67, 10. Christina Rockway, Tampa Bay Aquatics 4:51.68, 11. Hannah Burns, Gator Swim Club, 12. Andreina Pinto, Venezuela/Gator Swim Club 4:54.07, 18. Rachael Bradford-Feldman, St. Andrew’s Swimming 4:59.82, 20. Summer Finke, St. Petersburg 5:01.65, 24. Reilly Lanigan, Patriot Aquatics, 31. Kathleen Golding, SOFLO 5:08.39, 32. Tome Hernandez, Sarasota 5:10.96.
400-meter freestyle relay:
1.York YMCA 3:52.02, 2. Pointe Claire 3:52.94, 3. Team Ontario 3:55.76; 5. Sarasota YMCA 3:57.85 (Sophie Cattermole, Madison Jean, Ellie Berdusco, Spence Atkins), 6. SOFLO 3:59.32 (Melissa Marinheiro, Alia Atkinson, Lisa Blackburn, Kathleen Golding).
1.Joao DeLucca, Cardinal Aquatics 1:47.98, 2. Conor Dwyer, Trojan Swim Club 1:48.94, 3. Michael Wynalda, Club Wolverine 1:49.47; FLORIDA: 12. Matt DeAngulo, Club Seminole 1:52.13, 13. Zane Grothe, Club Seminole 1:52.39, 18. Danielle Tirabassi, Club Seminoles 1:53.75, 19. Niki Denisyako, Gator Swim Club 1:55.02, 20. Franco Lupoli, Azura 1:55.13, 24. Adam Ritter, Unattached 1:56.07, 26. Austin Katz, Sarasota 1:55.85, 31. Julien Pinon, SOFLO 1:58.18.
1.Cody Miller, Badger Swim Club 59.92, 2. Brendan McHugh, Greater Philadelphia Aquatics 1:00.56, 3. Felipe Lima, Auburn Aquatics 1:01.33; FLORIDA: 8. Anton Lobanov, Unattached 1:03.63, 13. Jared Pike, Club Seminole 1:04.07, 17. Rafael Van Leeuwaarde, Unattached 1:04.87, 24. Rio Kurihara, Bolles 1:08.25, 25. Marco Guarente, Azura 1:06.75, 28. Andrea Vergani, Bolles 1:07.62, 29. Rai Tjon-A-Joe, Azura 1:07.66, 30. Josh Monacelli, Highlanders 1:07.80, 31. James Daugherty, Bolles 1:07.87.
1.Pavel Sankovich, Club Seminole 52.55, 2. Giles Smith, Phoenix Swim Club 53.01, 3. Geoff Cheah, Club Wolverine 53.33; FLORIDA: 9. Mateo Gonzalez, Azura Florida Aquatics 54.59, 17. Konstan Shmyga, Gator Swim Club 55.43, 19. Zu Pigot, Miami Swimming 55.81, 20. Niki Denisyako, Gator Swim Club 56.02, 21. Omar Pinzon, Bolles 56.05, 27. Maximilian Abreu, Bolles 55.92, 28. Carlos Herrera, Azura 56.19, 30. Javier Barrena, Bolles 57.04.
400-meter individual medley:
1.Sebastien Rousseau, Gator Swim Club 4:19.71, 2. Tyler Clary, SwimMAC 4:22.90, 3. Conor Dwyer, Trojan Swim Club 4:23.22; FLORIDA: 15. Robert Finke, St. Petersburg 4:37.64, 21. Santi Corredor,Swim Florida 4:39.50, 22. Carter Page, Sarasota 4:40.26, 25. Javier Barrena, Bolles 4:38.41, 26. Ni D’Innocenzo, Gator Swim Club 4:41.65, 27. Eli Wong, Bolles 4;42.54, 28. Campbell Lee, Sarasota 4;42.72, 30. Marco Guarente, Azura 4:43.91.
400-meter freestyle relay:
1.Mexico 3:29.60, 2. Pointe-Claire, Canada 3:31.57, 3. Azura Florida Aquatics 3:32.63 (Elias Mehrdad, Carlos Herrera, Mateo Gonzalez, Fernando Alatorre), 4. Sarasota YMCA 3:38.49 (Carter Page, Austin Katz, Danny Erlenmeyer, Drew Clark).
IF YOU GO
What: Orlando Arena Pro Swim Series
When: Friday-Saturday, prelims 9 a.m., finals 6 p.m.
Where: YMCA Aquatic Center, 8422 International Drive, Orlando
Of Note: This is the third stop on the 2014-15 Arena Pro Swim Series. Prelims and finals will be live streamed at usaswimming.org. Universal Sports Network will air meet coverage on Friday at 6 p.m.
Admission: $15 single session including heat sheet. All session pass is $65. Parking is $5 for each session. For information call 407-363-1911.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com