December 2, 2011
WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson broke her own national record Friday night at the AT&T Winter National Championships at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta.
The two-time Olympian for Jamaica bettered her lifetime best and won the “C” final of the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:08.86.
It was the first time the 22-year-old cracked the 1:09 barrier.
Since June, she has now bettered her national record four times. In June, she swam 1:09.91 in Italy and at the Pan American Games in October she swam back-to-back best times of 1:09.28 and 1:09.11 in Mexico.
Swimming in Lane 6, Atkinson went out fast and turned first in 32.54 for the first 50 meters. She continued to pull away from the field with a confidence-building swim. Her time would have put her in the “A” final and placed her eighth.
“Yes, but even better, she is gaining confidence and will soon realize that she has to be mentally confident 24/7,” said her SOFLO head coach Chris Anderson, who said a resounding ‘yesssss’ after she touched.
Atkinson was top qualifier for the “C” final in 1:11.30, just 2/100ths short of the “B” final. Her splits were 33.38 and 37.92.
Earlier in the morning prelims, Atkinson warmed up in the 100-meter butterfly in 1:04.93.
SOFLO’s Vlad Polyakov, 28, qualified for the “B” final as top seed in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:02.19 and finished third in 1:02.07.
Atkinson and Polyakov will swim the 200-meter breaststroke on Saturday and teammate Jessie Alcaide will swim the 100-meter freestyle on the third and final day of the long course meet.
In other championship finals:
Women’s 400-meter individual medley: University of California’s Caitlin Leverenz, 20, won by more than a body length in 4:37.68. Julia Smit was second in 4:40.47 and Katie Hoff was third in 4:41.46. Leverenz was the early leader on the 100-meter butterfly leg going out in 29.50 and finishing in 1:02.94. She led for most of the backstroke (2:15.60) until Smit briefly flirted with the lead for 15 meters of the breaststroke but Leverenz made up nearly two seconds and retook the lead on the breaststroke leg and controlled the remainder of the race. Leverenz also won the 200 IM Thursday night.
Men’s 400-meter individual medley: Swimming in Lane 7, Tyler Clary, 22, of Fast Swim Team, took control of the race, led from wire-to-wire to pull away from the field to win in 4:15.15. Clary went out in 26.72 in the first 50 meters of the butterfly and turned first at the 100 in 56.53 with Lochte second. Clary picked up steam on the backstroke leg and pulled away from the field in the freestyle for the win. Robert Margalis was second in 4:18.39 and Joshua Prenot third in 4:19.19. Ryan Lochte, in the midst of heavy training and not wearing a racing suit, faded to fifth in 4:20.05.
Women’s 100-meter butterfly: World champion and American record holder Dana Vollmer, 24, despite battling a case of the flu, won a close race in 58.04 out-touching Alexandra Forrester (58.50) and Kathleen Hersey (58.59). Naples’ Erika Erndl was eighth in 59.58. Forrester went out fast to lead after the first 50 in 26.92 but Vollmer stormed back in the final 50. “I am very proud of myself for putting this morning behind me and defending my national title despite being ill,” Vollmer said.
Men’s 100-meter butterfly: Kenya’s Jason Dunford, 25, swimming unattached, led from start to finish to win in 52.13. Dunford went out in 24.05 and held off a charging field in the final few meters to win. Tyler McGill of Auburn Aquatics was second in 52.41. Alex Coci of the University of Alabama third in 52.96.
Women’s 200-meter freestyle: Teenage phenom Missy Franklin, 16, ranked No. 1 in the event, and swimming next to top-seed Camille Muffat, 22, of France, put on a late spurt but fell short by 1/10th of a second to Muffat, who out-touched her in 1:56.61. Franklin was second in 1:56.71. Brittany MacLean was third in 1:59.45. Muffat led for the entire race, going out in 27.78 and 57.29 at the 100.
Men’s 200-meter freestyle: Swimming on the outside in Lane 1, Yannick Agnel, 19, of France took it out fast and went on to win in 1:46.36. Ricky Berens was second in 1:47.12. Top seed Darian Townsend of South Africa was third in 1:47.64. Agnel led at the 100 in 1:18.59. Berens came on strong in the end and Townsend, who had faded to fourth came back for a close third. Agnel also won the 400 freestyle on Thursday night.
Women’s 100-meter breaststroke: Top-seed Rebecca Soni, 24, trailed Jessica Hardy by 3/10ths of a second at the turn, but Soni, arguably the best breaststroker in history, pulled away with 25 meters left in the race for the win in 1:05.83. Hardy was second in 1:06.55 and Yuliya Efimova was third in 1:07.64. USA Swimming and Florida Gold Coast official Jay Thomas handed out the medals and flowers to the top three finishers of the event.
Men’s 100-meter breaststroke: Against a star-studded field, top qualifier Brendan Hansen, 30, continued his successful comeback trail winning in 1:00.31. Hansen took it out in 28.27. Marcus Titus was second in 1:00.66 and Mihail Alexandrov was third in 1:00.88. Japan’s Olympic gold medalist Kosuke Kitajima was fifth in 1:10.18. It was Hansen’s first head-to-head meeting with Kitajima since the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Davie Nadadores’ Felipe Lima was eighth in 1:01.74.
Women’s 100-meter backstroke: Missy Franklin came back with a late charge in the final meters to break open a close race and win in 1:00.10. Olivia Smoliga was second in 1:00.53. Liz Pelton, the early leader after the first 50 meters (29.56), was third in 1:00.55. Canadian Sinead Russell was fifth in 1:00.82.
Men’s 100-meter backstroke: Matt Grevers, 26, of Tucson Ford Dealers, led from wire-to-wire to win in 53.26. He went out in 25.80 and with 30 meters to go slightly pulled away from Nick Thoman, who finished second in 53.64. David Plummer was third in 54.56.
Other SOFLO swimmer finishes on Friday:
University of Miami senior Dana Hatic , 21, was 52nd in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:13.55.
Seton Hall’s Ryan O’Shaughnessy, 20, was disqualified in the 100-meter breaststroke. His splits were 31.87 and 36.47.
Marinheiro Takes Bronze
SOFLO’s Marcella Marinheiro, 17, finished third in the 200-yard backstroke in 2:29.60 at the Brazilian 17-18 Age Group Championships in Pessoa, Paraiba-Brazil. Her splits were 35.04, 1:15.07, 1:52.77 and 2:29.60. Her next event is the 200-yard freestyle prelims. “I can do better than that,” Marinheiro told her coach Chris Anderson.
Rojas Makes Finals
SOFLO’s Marc Rojas made the 100-yard breaststroke championship finals Friday at the Gator Swim Club Holiday Classic in Gainesville.
Rojas 17, was the sixth fastest qualifier for finals in 59.46. He went out in 27.91.
He will swim the 200-yard individual medley on Saturday and 200-yard breaststroke on Sunday at the three-day holiday meet that features several Florida Gold Coast swimmers.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org