Australia Dominates Commonwealth Games, Eyes Pan Pacs On Home Soil; Florida’s Dan Wallace Takes Silver

Australia Dominates Commonwealth Games, Eyes Pan Pacs On Home Soil; Florida’s Dan Wallace Takes Silver

By Sharon Robb

July 29, 2014—The sixth and final day of swimming at the Commonwealth Games was just as exciting as the first five days at Tollcross Swimming Centre in Glasgow, Scotland.

In one of the most competitive meets, Australia dominated the men’s and women’s events and is brimming with confidence for the August 21-24 Pan Pacific Championships at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre in Southport, Australia.

Of course, the Aussies will have stiffer competition in the United States and Japan. Canada is the fourth team in the four-nation meet.

Australia finished with 57 medals including 19 gold, 21 silver and 17 bronze.

England was a distant second with 28 medals (10 gold, 10 silver, 8 bronze).

South Africa had 12 medals (3 golds, 3 silver and 6 bronze). Canada finished with 11 medals (4 gold, 1 silver, 6 bronze) and host Scotland had 10 medals (3 gold, 3 silver, 4 bronze).

Australia immediately left the country after the meet and will missing the Closing Ceremony. Swimmers were under an alcohol ban and curfew that prevented them from leaving the Athletes’ Village after their embarrassing showing at the 2012 London Olympics.

In Tuesday’s championship finals:

Women’s 400-meter freestyle: New Zealand’s Lauren Boyle pulled ahead at the 250-meter mark to win her first Games gold medal in a meet record 4:04.47, fourth fastest time in the world this year. Jazz Carlin of Wales took the silver in 4:05.16 and Aussie Bronte Barratt took bronze in 4:06.02.

Men’s 50-meter freestyle: British teenager Ben Proud won the splash-and-dash gold medal to join his 50 butterfly gold medal. Proud just missed a meet record in 21.92. Aussie Cameron McEvoy was second in 22.00 and Aussie James Magnussen was third in 22.10. Trinidad and Tobago’s and Bolles alum George Bovell was fifth in 22.31.

Women’s 50-meter backstroke: Wales Georgia Davies won gold in national record 27.56, second fastest time in the world this year. Brit Lauren Quigley took silver in 27.69 and Canadian Brooklynn Snodgras, a junior at Indiana University, took the bronze in a national record 27.97.

Men’s 200-meter individual medley: Aussie Daniel Tranter came from behind to knock off Chad le Clos of South Africa and University of Florida’s Dan Wallace of Scotland in a meet record 1:57.83. Le Clos was leading after the butterfly and backstroke but lost the lead on the breaststroke leg. Wallace, who was dressed in a kilt during his walk to the blocks, was second in a national record 1:58.72. Le Clos hung on for the bronze in 1:58.85.

Men’s 1500-meter freestyle: Canadian Ryan Cochrane won his second gold medal at the Games. The 25-year-old, competing in his final Games, won in 14:44.03, fastest time in the world this year. He won the gold in 2010 in 15:01.49. Aussie Mack Horton took silver in a best time 14:48.76. Daniel Jervis of Wales was third in 14:55.33.

Women’s 4×100-meter medley relay: The Aussie women swept the relays, winning the final one in a meet record 3:56.23 after a scorching 51.59 split by Cate Campbell. Meet officials said it was believed to be the fastest relay split in history in a textile suit. England was second in 3:57.03 and Canada was third.

Men’s 4×100-meter medley relay: With Adam Peaty swimming anchor, England knocked off Australia to win the gold in a meet record 3:31.51. The Aussies finished in 3:31.21. South Africa took third in 3:34.47.

Cate Campbell said she is going to ban herself from social media at future meets because she was overwhelmed by the fan support. “I was just feeling the pressure a little bit,” Campbell said. “I think I have learned a valuable lesson about social media. Even support can turn into a burden sometimes.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Hangs On For Bronze In Final Race At Commonwealth Games

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Hangs On For Bronze In Final Race At Commonwealth Games

By Sharon Robb

July 28, 2014—In her final race of the 20th Commonwealth Games, South Florida Aquatic Club’s Alia Atkinson had the gold medal slip away at Tollcross Swimming Centre.

The three-time Jamaican Olympian, poised to win her country’s first gold medal in swimming in her third Commonwealth Games appearance, was the top qualifier in the 100-meter breaststroke and was leading the field until the final 15 meters.

Atkinson, 25, was off the blocks like a rocket and went out fast with a 30.81 split. The race favorite was leading by 0.66 seconds until late in the race when she started to tighten up and faded to third for the bronze in 1:08.14.

Even the BBC announcers were rooting for Atkinson yelling “Come on Atkinson, you can do it” along with the sellout crowd that included Prince William, his wife Kate Middleton and brother Harry sitting at the top of the stands.

The likeable swimmer had similar races in the 50-meter breaststroke where she took silver and 200-meter breaststroke where she was shut out of medals after fading in her race. In the 100, she was unable to duplicate her semifinal swim of 1:06.87.

Brit Sophie Taylor saw her opportunity and blew past Atkinson with her killer instinct to put the race away and win the gold medal in a national record 1:06.35. Only Ruta Meilutyte (1:05.63), Kanako Watanabe (1:05.88) and Rikke Moeller Pedersen (1:06.19) have gone faster this year. Aussie Lorna Tonks took the silver in 1:07.34. Atkinson was visibly disappointed as she exited the pool.

On Day 5 of the competition, Atkinson leaves the Games with a silver medal in the 50-meter breaststroke and bronze medal. She is the first Jamaican swimmer to medal since Janelle Atkinson won two bronze medals at the 2002 Games in the 400- and 800-meter freestyles.

In other championship finals:

Men’s 200-meter backstroke: It was another 1-2-3 Aussie sweep for the second time in swimming. Mitch Larkin won in 1:55.83, just a half second off his season-best. It was the first time Australia won gold in the event since 1974. Josh Beaver took the silver in 1:56.19 and Matson Lawson took the bronze in 1:56.63. New Zealand’s Corey Main, the early leader after 100 meters, just missed a medal finishing fourth in 1:57.79. Main has been on a swimming scholarship at University of Florida since January 2013 and has settled into the strong training atmosphere.

Women’s 800-meter freestyle: Jazz Carlin, 23, won Wales’ first gold medal in swimming in a Games record 8:18.11. After the lead changed hands four times, Carlin took off on the bell lap with a late kick and extended her lead to a body length. New Zealand’s Lauren Boyle took silver in 8:20.59 and Canadian Brittany MacLean took bronze in 8:20.91.

Women’s 200-meter butterfly: Despite Brit Aimee Willmott taking the race out fast, Canadian Audrey Lacroix, the oldest woman in the field, won her first gold medal in three Commonwealth Games appearances in 2:07.61. Willmott was second in 2:08.07 and Aussie Maddie Groves was third in 2:08.44. It was Canada’s third swimming gold medal.

Men’s 50-meter breaststroke: South African Cameron van der Burgh powered his way through the race to win back-to-back titles in a Games record 26.76. Van der Burgh held off young sensation Adam Peaty of England, was second in 26.78. Aussie Christian Sprenger was third in 27.46.

Women’s 100-meter freestyle: For the first 50 meters Aussie Cate Campbell was under world record pace with a 25.01 split. She was unable to maintain that pace for the second half of the race but managed to hold off her younger sister Bronte for the gold medal in a Games record 52.68. Bronte Campbell took silver in 52.86. Emma McKeon was third in 53.61 to make it an Aussie 1-2-3 sweep for the third time at the Games’ swimming. Bahamian Olympian and Bolles alum Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace was fifth in 54.37. Canada had three swimmers in the final.

Men’s 100-meter butterfly: South African Chad le Clos came from behind early leader Jason Dunford of Kanya and then held off a late challenge from Bolles Joseph Schooling of Singapore to win in a Games record 51.29, the fastest time in the world this year. Schooling, 19, broke his own national record and won a silver medal in 51.69, fourth fastest time in the world this year. He broke his previous record of 52.22 which he set earlier in the Games. It was Singapore’s first-ever silver medal in swimming and just the third Commonwealth Games medal in swimming won by an Asian. Brit Adam Barrett was third in 51.93.

In the men’s 50-meter freestyle semifinals, England’s Ben Proud earned the top seed with a national and Games record of 21.76. Aussie Cameron McEvoy was the only other swimmer to break 22 with a 21.94.

In the women’s 50-meter backstroke semifinals, Georgia Davies of Wales earned the top seed in 27.61, a national record.

After five days, Australia leads the overall Games medal count with 87 including 30 gold medals followed by England (74), Scotland (33) and South Africa (24).

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Earns Top Seed For Her Final Event At Commonwealth Games

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Earns Top Seed For Her Final Event At Commonwealth Games

By Sharon Robb

July 27, 2014—Alia Atkinson didn’t hold anything back Sunday at the 20th Commonwealth Games at Tollcross Swimming Centre in Glasgow, Scotland.

The three-time Jamaican Olympian and South Florida Aquatic Club swimmer stormed to the top seed in the 100-meter breaststroke after winning her semifinal heat in a time of 1:06.87, a time that will probably win this event on Monday.

Atkinson’s best time is 1:06.79 from the 2012 London Olympics. She also swam 1:06.86 this past summer.

It will be her third and final attempt at her first gold medal in her third Commonwealth Games appearance. She just missed in the 50-meter breaststroke taking a silver medal and was shut out of a medal in the 200-meter breaststroke.

In her semifinal race, Atkinson, swimming in Lane 4, was quick off the blocks and bolted into the lead with a 31.16 split at the 50. She was off the wall like a rocket and left nothing to chance.

She had a full-body length lead coming into the finish. Her closest rival in the race was Canadian Tara Van Bielen in 1:81.11.

For the fourth day in a row, Australia dominated the night.

In Sunday’s championship finals:

Women’s 200-meter backstroke: Race favorite Belinda Hocking of Australia won in a Games record 2:07.24. Hocking is the only swimmer this year to break 2:08. Aussie teammate Emily Seebohm took silver in 2:08.51 and Canadian Hilary Caldwell took bronze in 2:08.55. Canadian Sinead Russell of University of Florida was eighth in 2:12.61.

Men’s 100-meter freestyle: It was an Aussie sweep in the final. Two-time reigning champion James Magnussen won the gold in 48.11. Cameron McEvoy was second just 0.23 seconds behind his teammate and Tommaso D’Orsogna was third. Dylan Carter, 18, of Trinidad and Tobago and youngest in the final, was fifth in 49.56.

Women’s 200-meter individual medley: Rising British star Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, 18, won her first gold medal in a Games record 2:08.21 to add to her three silver medals. After going out in 27.37 on the opening butterfly leg, she extended her lead to nearly two seconds after the breaststroke. Aussie veteran Alicia Coutts was second in 2:10.30 and former national record holder Hannah Miley was third in 2:10.74. “I am absolutely over the moon,” O’Connor said. “I knew it would be so hard to get a medal because of the strength of the field so I can’t ask for any more.”

Men’s 50-meter backstroke: The Aussies nearly pulled off another sweep going one-two. Ben Treffers won in 24.67 and Mitch Larkin was second in 24.80. England’s Liam Tancock was third in 24.98.

Women’s 50-meter butterfly: Defending champion Fran Halsall of England won her second gold medal of the Games in 25.20, both a Commonwealth and national record. Bahamian and Bolles alum Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace took silver in 25.53. Aussie Brittany Elmslie took bronze in 25.91.

Men’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay: Australia’s relay of Cameron McEvoy, David McKeon, Nick McKendry and Thomas Fraser-Holmes won the gold medal in a Games record 7:07.38. Scotland took the silver in 7:09.18 and South Africa was third in 7:10.36. Singapore was eighth in 7:28.01.

In the men’s 50-meter breaststroke semifinal, Florida State alum Rob Holderness of Wales was fifth in his heat in 28.26.

In the men’s 100-meter butterfly semifinal, Dylan Carter, 18, of Trinidad and Tobago, swimming in Lane 1,

Bolles’ Joseph Schooling of Singapore, who had already qualified for two finals, was second in the 100-meter butterfly semifinal in a national record 52.22, third fastest qualifying time, to make his third final. Zheng Wen Quah of Singapore was eighth in 54.29. Bolles coach Sergio Lopez is coaching the Singapore team.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Misses Second Medal At Commonwealth Games

SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Misses Second Medal At Commonwealth Games

By Sharon Robb

July 26, 2014—Alia Atkinson of the South Florida Aquatic Club had an off day at the 20th Commonwealth Games and it cost her.

The three-time Jamaican Olympian barely made it into the final of the 200-meter breaststroke qualifying eighth and then finished a disappointing seventh in 2:25.48 Saturday at Tollcross Swimming Centre in Glasgow, Scotland.

Atkinson, 25, was favored to medal in her most improved event since the 2012 London Olympics.

The women’s 200-meter breaststroke was a wide-open race with no clear-cut favorite.

Atkinson was in contention early in the race and seemed to be motivated after having to take a half-stroke to the wall and settling for silver in the 50-meter breaststroke, an event she was favored to win gold.

Atkinson was just .17 seconds behind leader Aussie Taylor McKeown after the first 50 meters and was 1 ½ seconds back in third place at the 150-meter mark.

But then it all unraveled for the experienced swimmer who started tightening up and leaning too close to the lane line to finish out of the medal race. Atkinson was visibly upset after her race.

McKeown won in 2:22.36. Aussie teammate Sally Hunter took silver in 2:23.33 and Brit Molly Renshaw was third in 2:25.00.

Atkinson will have one final shot at gold on Sunday in the 100-meter breaststroke, her third and final event of the Games and her marquis event.

At the midway mark of the swimming competition, powerhouse Australia has won 11 of the 21 gold medals and 15 silver and bronze medals. All but one of Saturday night’s gold medalists would have won a medal at last year’s World Championships had they produced the same times.

In other championship finals:

Men’s 200-meter butterfly: Olympic and world champion Chad Le Clos of South Africa turned on the afterburners in the last 50 meters to defend his title in a meet record 1:55.07 for his first gold medal of the Games. Aussie Grant Irvine took silver in 1:56.34 and South African Sebastien Rousseau of Gator Swim Club took the bronze in 1:56.43. Singapore’s Joseph Schooling of Bolles was eighth in 1:59.09.

Women’s 50-meter freestyle: After an even start, Brit Fran Halsall pulled away to break her own Commonwealth and national record in a textile-best 23.96. Aussie Cate Campbell was second in 24.00 and sister Bronte Campbell was third in 24.20. Bahamian and Bolles alum Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace was fourth in 24.34, fifth fastest time in the world.

Women’s 100-meter backstroke: Defending champion Emily Seebohm of Australia, the pre-race favorite, won in a meet record 59.37; Wales’ Georgia Davies was second in 59.58 and Aussie Belinda Hocking took the bronze in 59.93. Canadian Sinead Russell of University of Florida was sixth in 1:00.27.

Men’s 100-meter breaststroke: Brit teenager Adam Peaty, 19, knocked off world record holder Cameron van der Burgh and broke his own Commonwealth record to win in 58.94. The South African went out fast and had a half-body length in the first half of the race but faded and finished second in 59.28. Ross Murdoch of Scotland was third in 59.47. Former Florida State swimmer Rob Holderness, who finished seventh in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:12.35, was disqualified in one of his best events.

Women’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay: Australia held off Canada to win another gold medal in 7:49.90 with Emma McKeon, Alicia Coutts, Brittany Elmslie and Bronte Barratt. After a lackluster leg by Coutts, it was Elmslie who put the Aussies back in the lead for good. Canada took silver in 7:51.67 and England was third in 7:52.45. Singapore, coached by Bolles coach Sergio Lopez, was seventh in 8:16.39.

In the women’s 50-meter butterfly semifinals, Singapore’s Tao Li is the fifth seed in 26.33. Bahamian and Bolles alum Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace is the second seed in 25.90.

Sharon Robb can be reached at