By Sharon Robb
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, December 20, 2021–South Florida Aquatic Club’s Alia Atkinson took her final bow on the world stage Monday at the 15th FINA Short Course World Championships at Etihad Arena.
The five-time Jamaican Olympian, after being disqualified earlier in the week in the 50-meter breaststroke semifinals, bounced back to finish fourth in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:04.03, her signature event and one she shares the world record (1:02.36) with Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte.
In her last hurrah, Atkinson, 33, finished behind China’s Qianting Tang (1:03.47, Asian record), Sweden’s Sophie Hansson (1:03.50) and Ireland’s Mona McSharry (1:03.92) in her final competitive meet. She had won the 100 breaststroke in 2014, 2016 and 2018.
“Not the meet I hoped for but I am happy to say I finished every ounce of swimming talent God gave me, the bottle empty. Many times I wanted to quit or give up, but I saw it through to the end,” Atkinson wrote in a post to social media.
Atkinson said her long run career was “remarkable” and “a rollercoaster of fun and not so fun moments”.
Her advice to up-and-coming swimmers:
- Make fun memories…they don’t make themselves.
- Take nothing for granted and enjoy each step both the good and the challenging.
- Let go of the negatives of the day.
- Your best changes daily, so do the best you can on that day.
SOFLO teammate Julio Horrego, representing Honduras, was 26th in the 50-meter breaststroke in 27.38 in his final event of the meet.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Dylan Carter, a Plantation American Heritage alum, took silver in the 50-meter butterfly in 21.98, just behind Brazil’s 41-year-old world record holder Nicholas Santos in 21.93. Santos became the oldest swimmer to win a world title. Carter swam the third fastest time in the semifinals in a national time 22.18.
In championship final action:
To kick off the finals, the U.S. and Russian Swimming Federation tied for gold in the 4×50-meter medley relay in 1:30.51. The U.S. relay of Shaine Casas, Nic Fink, Tom Shields and Ryan Held also broke the American short course record.
Canadian Sydney Pickrem won the 200-meter individual medley in 2:04.29.
Canada also won the 4×200-meter freestyle relay won in 7:32.96 with relay swimmers Summer McIntosh, Kayla Sanchez, Katherine Savard and Rebecca Smith, ahead of the U.S. in 7:36.53.
Canada won another gold medal in the 50-meter backstroke when Maggie MacNeil broke the world record of 25.60 in 25.27.
Japan world record holder Daiya Seto led from start to finish to win the 400-meter individual medley in 3:56.26. Runner-up Illia Borodin of the Russian Swimming Federation broke the junior world record in 3:56.47.
The five-day meet concludes Tuesday.
FINA is offering a prize money pool of $2.8 million, a 50 percent increase in prize money for individual swimmers. There is also be a $50,000 bonus for any swimmer who breaks a world record.
The top eight individual payoffs for first through eighth place are $10,000, $8,000, $7,000, $6,000, $5,000, $4,000, $3,000 and $2,000.
There are 943 swimmers from 183 countries competing. The swimming is part of the Aquatics Festival which includes open water swimming, high diving and diving team competition.
Final sessions of the pool swimming will be streamed on NBC Sports’ Olympic Channel. Eurovision Sport’s All Aquatics will air the heats.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org