Pine Crest’s Julia Podkoscielny Wins First Event; SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Scratches Final On Day Two Of UANA Tokyo Qualifier

By Sharon Robb
CLERMONT, April 30, 2021—After swimming the second fastest time in morning prelims, four-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson scratched from the 100-meter breaststroke final in the UANA Tokyo Qualifier Friday at Orlando Health National Training Center.

The 32-year-old South Florida Aquatic Club swimmer, already qualified for her fifth Olympic appearance in her signature event, strained her quad and decided to play it safe instead of risking further injury.

Atkinson was seeded second in 1:11.54 behind eventual winner Melissa Rodriguez Villanueva, 26, in 1:10.60. Atkinson is expected to swim the 100-meter butterfly prelims on Saturday.

On opening day, Atkinson won the 50-meter breaststroke in 31.69 for her tenth consecutive win in the sprint event in the U.S. She has not lost in the event on U.S. soil since May 2016. She was also second in the 50-meter butterfly in 27.03 behind third-seeded 16-year-old Athena Meneses Kovacs of Mexico in a lifetime-best 27.01.

U.S. Olympic trials qualifier Julia Podkoscielny, 16, of Pine Crest Swim Team won her first event of the meet in the 400-meter individual medley in 4:47.15 ahead of teammate Paige MacEachern in 4:48.09.

Bahamian national team member Izaak Bastian, 20, swimming unattached for Florida State, was third in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:02.33.

Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cancel, 21, who trains with SOFLO during the summer and is swimming unattached for Florida, was fifth in the 400-meter individual medley in 4:33.07.

Other winners were:

Maria Jose Mata Cocco, 27, of Club Libanes Potosino won the 200-meter freestyle in a best time 2:01.16.

Melissa Rodriguez Villanueva, 26, of Britania Desert Dragons won the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:09.11.

Great Britain’s Pia Murray, 19, swimming unattached for Florida State, won the 100-meter backstroke in 1:02.94.

Jordanian Olympian Khader Baqlah, 22, of Gator Swim Club won the 200-meter freestyle in 1:48.10.

Josue Dominguez, 24, of the Dominican Republic won the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:01.25 breaking his own national record.

Clark Beach, 21, swimming unattached for Florida, won the 100-meter backstroke in 55.70.

Hector Ruvalcaba Cruz, 23, of Mexico won the 400-meter individual medley in a best time 4:19.01.

Mexico has been the most dominant team after two days. Mexico leads the combined, men and women’s team standings.

The four-day meet, hosted by Azura Florida Aquatics and Montverde Academy Swimming, has attracted 300 swimmers and 74 teams from 60 nations along with U.S. club and college swimmers looking for a fast meet to race.

As a FINA-approved event, swimmers who participate will be eligible to qualify for the July 23-August 8 Tokyo Olympic Games; Sept. 9-19 Junior Pan American Games in Cali, Colombia; Dec. 15-20 FINA SCM World Championship in Abu Dhabi and May 13-29, 2022 FINA World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.

UANA (Union Americana de Natación or Swimming Union of the Americas) is the international governing body in the Western Hemisphere for amateur aquatics. UANA is one of five continental regions within FINA.

Friday through Sunday, prelims are 9 a.m. and finals 5 p.m. Saturday’s events are: men’s and women’s

1. Mexico 103, 2. Azura Florida Aquatics 81.5, 3. Scarlet Aquatic 48, 4. Pine Crest 41.5, 5. Tennessee Aquatics 26, 6. Gator Swim Club 25, 7. Dominican Republic 22, 8. South Florida Aquatic Club, Olympus, Britania Desert Dragons 20.

MEN TEAM TOTALS: 1. Mexico 103, 2. Azura Florida Aquatics 81.5, 3. Scarlet Aquatic 48, 4. Pine Crest 41.5, 5. Tennessee Aquatics 26, 6. Gator Swim Club 25, 7. Dominican Republic 22, 8. South Florida Aquatic Club, Olympus, Britania Desert Dragons 20.

WOMEN TEAM TOTALS: 1. Mexico 49, 2. Scarlet Aquatic 44, 3. Pine Crest 36.5, 4. Azura Florida Aquatics 35.5, 5. Tennessee Aquatics 26, 6. South Florida Aquatic Club, Britania Desert Dragons 20, 8. Montverde Aquatic Club 16.

200-meter freestyle:

  1. Maria Jose Mata Cocco, Club Libanes Potosino 2:01.16, best time, 2. Athena Meneses Kovacs, Mexico 2:04.08, 3. Giulia Grasso, Unattached Queens, NC 2:04.45; FGC; 6. Julimar Avila, Azura 2:05.99, 8. Nicole Frank Rodriguez, Azura 2:07.02, 22. Lauren Hew, Cayman Island 2:09.06.

100-meter breaststroke:

  1. Melissa Rodriguez Villanueva, Britania Desert Dragons 1:09.11, 2. Micaela Sierra, Azura Florida Aquatics/Uruguay 1:12.13, national record, 3. Emily Santos, Montverde Aquatic Club 1:12.22; FGC: 9. Riley Botting, PC 1:15.13.

100-meter backstroke:

  1. Pia Murray, Unattached FSU 1:02.94, 2. McKenna DeBever, Tennessee Aquatics 1:02.99, 3. Athena Meneses Kovacs, Mexico 1:03.46; FGC: 4. Celina Marquez, Azura 1:03.79, 5. Julia Podkoscielny 1:03.81, 20. Hanna Elks Smith, PC 1:08.48, 21. Colleen Furgeson, Azura 1:07.33, 22. Nicol Bellardi, Venezuela 1:07.68, 26. Isabella Chambers, PC 1:10.27, 27. Simone Vale, PC 1:10.47, 28. Sophia Perez, GULL 1:11.69.

400-meter individual medley:

  1. Julia Podkoscielny, PC 4:47.15, 2. Paige MacEachern, PC 4:48.09, 3. Ginevra Molino, UNATT-FSU 4:54.80; FGC: 7. Nicole Frank Rodriguez, Azura 5:03.30, 12. Riley Botting, PC 5:05.68, 18. Sophia Perez, GULL 5:20.42.

200-meter freestyle:

  1. Khader Baqlah, Gator Swim Club 1:48.10, 2. Jorge Andres Iga Cesar, Mexico 1:48.40, 3. Alfonso Mestre, Unattached UF 1:49.84; FGC: 5. Joaquin Vargas, Azura 1:50.19, 10. Gabriel Araya, Azura 1:53.22, 13. Noah Mascoll-Gomes, Azura 1:53.20, 14. Marcelo Acosta, Azura 1:53.58.

100-meter breaststroke:

  1. Josue Dominguez, Dominican Republic 1:01.25, national record holder, 2. Nills Wich-Glasen, Gator Swim Club 1:01.90, 3. Izaak Bastian, Unattached FSU 1:02.33; FGC: 7. Joshua Hanks, PC 1:03.64, 10. Matteo Zampese, Azura 1:04.09, 19. Brandon Moran, Azura 1:06.56; SOFLO: 28. Javier Colmenares, Venezuela 1:09.01.

100-meter backstroke:

  1. Clark Beach, Unattached-UF 55.70, 2. Diego Camacho Salgado, Olympus Swim Team 55.76, 3. Yeziel Morales, Azura 56.11; FGC: 4. Lance Lesage, Unattached-PC 56.45, 10. Will Taner, PC 1:00.71, 19. Steven Aimable, Azura 1:00.04, 25. Diego Balbi, SAS 59.96

400-meter individual medley:

  1. Hector Ruvalcaba Cruz, Mexico 4:19.01, best time, 2. Ricardo Vargas Jacobo, Mexico 4:21.20, 3. Kieran Smith, Unattached-UF 4:22.00; SOFLO: 5. Miguel Cancel, Unattached-UF 4:33.07, 24. Javier Colmenares, Venezuela 4:51.83, 27. Leo Mateus 5:02.89; FGC: 10. Patrick Groters, Aruba 4:30.72, 28. Jake Wienants, GULL 5:03.81.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Author: South Florida Aquatic Club - SOFLO Swimming

Welcome to the South Florida Aquatic club, a premier community swim team dedicated to providing opportunity and encouragement to all team members, from the beginner to the seasoned Olympic athlete in their pursuit of excellence. The year-round development program for competitive swimming features life-enhancing qualities including integrity, discipline, teamwork, sportsmanship and health and fitness. We invite you to navigate the club’s portal for information about the team.

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