By Sharon Robb
BUDAPEST, Hungary, November 19, 2020–South Florida Aquatic Club’s Alia Atkinson is more than ready to “battle and be better” for this weekend’s International Swimming League final at Duna Arena.
The four-time Jamaican Olympian will wind up her second pro season when she competes with the London Roar. The three other teams making it to the final are defending champion Energy Standard, Cali Condors and LA Current.
The Energy Standard leads in rating points with 2,291 followed by the Cali Condors, 2,222 and London Roar, 2,007.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Atkinson told Sports Max TV. “Right now, we’re third but we’re pretty close to second and first. I really think we can pull something out. I think we can surprise some people and just do our best.
“Six weeks is a long time. Everybody is excited to go home but as a team I think we’re focused and ready to go into the finals and produce the best times they can. I know we will give it 100 per cent effort.”
Clay High School and Bolles Club alum Caeleb Dressel of the Cali Condors is coming off last week’s world record performance in the 100-meter individual medley (49.88). In last year’s final, he broke the world record in the 50-meter freestyle in 20.24.
The London Roar’s Kira Toussaint of the Netherlands and Adam Peaty of Great Britain are also coming off world records. Toussaint, who swam for Florida Gulf Coast for two seasons before transferring to Tennessee for her final two seasons, broke the 50 backstroke mark in 25.60 and Peaty broke the 100 breaststroke in 55.49.
The pro season, held in a “bubble” under strict COVID-19 guidelines, started with 300 swimmers and 10 international teams. Competition was held over six weeks.
Atkinson, 31, is ranked first in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:02.66) and fourth in the 50-meter breaststroke (29.20). Atkinson has also lowered her Jamaican national record in the 100 butterfly twice (57.13 last weekend).
“The butterfly was fantastic, I wanted to go 56 but like the 100 breast you have to take it step by step,” Atkinson said. “I haven’t done that race in like six years, so considering that it is a pretty good time. Hopefully, as I swim it some more I will get faster and faster.”
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com