By Sharon Robb
October 26, 2016—After a disappointing finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Alia Atkinson of Jamaica broke a world short course record in the 50-meter breaststroke Wednesday at the FINA/Airweave World Cup Series in Tokyo.
Atkinson, 27, of South Florida Aquatic Club, who shares the 100-meter breaststroke short course world record with Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte broke the previous record of 28.80 held by American Jessica Hardy since 2009, in 28.64, shaving 16/100ths off the record. Atkinson is the first Jamaican swimmer to solely own a world record.
Atkinson is one of only three women swimmers who have cracked the 29-second barrier.
She topped a less than stellar field including Russian Yulia Efimova and American Molly Hannis and finished as the top female scorer in Tokyo.
Atkinson is coached by SOFLO’s Chris Anderson, who has coached her to four Olympic Games since she was a teenager at Flanagan High School.
Atkinson was a favorite to medal in Rio in the 100-meter breaststroke on the sport’s biggest world stage but faltered to eighth place in the final.
Atkinson earned a $10,000 bonus from FINA for breaking a world record along with 20 points toward her cluster bonus. She also picked up $35,000 for finishing second in the Cluster Two competition behind Hungarian Katinka Hosszu and now is fifth overall with $54,000 behind Hosszu, Jeanette Ottesen, Daryna Zevina and Efimova.
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