By Sharon Robb
October 6, 2018—In a fast pool at Duna Arena in Budapest, Hungary, four-time Olympian Alia Atkinson of South Florida Aquatic Club came up with her second career short course meter world record on the final day of the FINA World Cup Series’ second cluster.
On Saturday, Atkinson, 29, broke her own world record in the 50-meter breaststroke in 28.56 and picked up $10,000 in world record bonus money. It was one of three world records broken in the 25-meter pool format.
“Well this happened!” Atkinson posted on Facebook. “God you never cease to amaze me. From struggling at Commonwealth to a World Record 5 months later. Thank you Budapest, the fans, pool, the city, the volunteers and competition was amazing.”
The veteran swimmer’s previous record was 28.64 set in 2016 during the World Cup circuit stop in Tokyo. It is the eighth time Atkinson has dipped under 29 seconds in the event.
Atkinson is the only swimmer in Jamaican history to break world records.
The top four finishers were all under 30 seconds. Russian Yulia Efimova was second in 29.22, American Molly Hannis was third in 29.51 and Aussie Emily Seebohm was fourth in 29.96.
China’s Wang Jianjiahe broke the world record in the women’s 400-meter freestyle (3:53.97) and Brazil’s Nicholas Santos broke the 50-meter butterfly (21.75) world record.
Atkinson was the best performer in Budapest with 108 points, one point ahead of China’s Jianjahe Wang. The top three women’s overall ranking after the Budapest stop are Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom, 204; Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu, 162; and Russia’s Yulia Efimova, 153.
After a rollercoaster year, it was Atkinson’s third gold of the series. On Friday she won the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:02.80. She also won gold in the 50-meter breaststroke During the Netherlands stop. It was her seventh short course series gold medal.
Atkinson, who turns 30 on Dec. 11, competed in her first Olympics at age 16. Her best long course times, swum in 2015, are 30.11 for the 50 breaststroke and 1:05.93 in the 100 breaststroke.
Hometown hero Katinka Hosszu left with four victories and Aussie Mitch Larkin won three gold medals. China’s Wang Jianjiahe and Russia’s Vladimir Morozov won the second cluster.
The third cluster of the Swimming World Cup will resume Nov. 2-4 in Beijing, Nov. 9-11 in Tokyo and Nov. 15-17 in Singapore.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org