By Sharon Robb
HANGZHOU, China, December 15, 2018—Four-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson of South Florida Aquatic Club won her second gold medal Saturday at the 14th FINA World Short Course Championships.
Atkinson, 30, the top-seed and world record holder in the 100-meter breaststroke, won the event in 1:03.51. She is the first woman to win the event for three consecutive world championships (won gold in 2014 and 2016). It was her third medal after winning the 50-meter breaststroke and third in the 100-meter individual medley.
American Katie Meili took silver in 1:03.63. Meili pulled away from the field along with Atkinson, who had a great start and then held on for the win to out-touch Meili. Aussie Jessica Hansen was third in 1:04.61.
“Done and done,” Atkinson said. “Beyond thankful for God’s calming guidance and keeping me mentally and physically in the game. Two golds and a bronze is the best haul at worlds yet, and to do it at 30 years old makes it even better.”
Other Florida swimmers:
1. prelims, 3. semis, Caeleb Dressel, U.S., Clay/Bolles, 100-meter freestyle, 45.98, 46.09.
5. Melanie Margalis, U.S., St. Petersburg, 200-meter individual medley, 2:07.39.
12. Marcelo Acosta, El Salvador, Azura alum, 1,500-meter freestyle, 14:45.78.
25. Isabella Paez, Venezuela, Dora, Miami Metro Aquatics, 100-meter butterfly, 59.69.
66. Jhonny Perez, Dominican Republic, Azura alum, 100-meter freestyle, 51.03.
In Saturday’s finals seven countries won seven gold medals. No world records were broken.
Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu won the 200-meter individual medley in 2:03.25 for her third consecutive title in the event which she holds the world and championship record in 2:01.86. It was her fourth gold medal of the meet. The U.S. finished two-three with St. Petersburg’s Melanie Margalis in 2:04.62 and Kathleen Baker in 2:05.64.
“It’s always nice to race in China,” Hosszu said. “I’ve got many fans throughout the year. I’ve been racing a lot in Beijing and now in Hangzhou. Obviously, I’m very happy with my results over the past couple of days. I’m happiest with this, the women’s medley gold because of the time (2:03.25).
“My training hasn’t changed that much by changing my coach. I’ve had a long swimming career, so I’m pretty aware what I need to do to perform well. Obviously, it’s really good to have a coach who can provide additional value to my training. There are little things I have changed and try to focus on. I do pay attention to recovery and try to do a lot more quality instead of quantity”.
American Olivia Smoliga won the 50-meter backstroke in an American record 25.88 successfully sweeping the sprint backstrokes. It was the only gold medal won by the U.S. on Day 5. Caroline Pilhatsch of Austria was second in a national record 25.99. Australia’s Holly Barratt was third in 26.04.
“It feels like a blur to me, it goes by so quickly,” Smoliga said. “I saw both girls off the side of me at the turn and I knew I had to have a good finish, so I tried my best to get my hands on the wall first. I think the time (25.88) is important. It shows how your training has been going, if you have improved your times from previous years. It shows what you are doing is the right thing”.
Japan’s Daiya Seto won the 400-meter individual medley in 3:56.43. Seto took off and led from start-to-finish. He was within a second of the world record of 3:55.50 held by Ryan Lochte. Aussie Thomas Fraser-Holmes was second in 4:02.74 and Brazil’s Brandonn Almeida was third in 4:03.71.
Brazilian world record holder Nicholas Santos knocked off South African Chad le Clos in the 50-meter butterfly in a championship record 21.81. Le Clos finished in 21.97 and Plantation American Heritage alum Dylan Carter of Trinidad and Tobago was third in 22.38. He was sixth fastest qualifier for the event. It was the second-ever medal for the Caribbean nation after George Bovell’s bronze in 2012 in the 100 IM.
Russia won the men’s 4×50-meter medley relay in a championship record 1:30.54. The U.S., despite Ryan Murphy leading off with a fast split of 22.73, took silver in 1:30.90 and Brazil won the bronze medal in 1:31.49.
In an exciting finish, China outlasted the U.S., 7:34.08-7:35.30 to take gold in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay. Australia took bronze in a national record 7:36.40.
The short course worlds are swum in short course meters and held in the years when FINA does not hold its world championships (currently this means in even years). The short course championship is swimming-only events where world championships feature all five aquatic disciplines.
A field of 960 swimmers, with several top names missing, from 178 countries are competing for 46 world titles over six days at the Hangzhou Olympic and International Expo Center Tennis Centre. The center is uniquely shaped like a lotus bowl with an 8,000-seat capacity.
On the sixth and final day, prelims are 9 a.m. in China, 8:30 p.m. EST in the U.S. Finals are 7 p.m. in China and 6 a.m. EST in the U.S.
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org