SOFLO’s Alia Atkinson Ends Illustrious Career; Dylan Carter Takes Silver At FINA Short Course World Championships

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

Aussies Set Relay World Record; Dressel Breaks American Record On Day Five Of 18th FINA World Aquatics Championships

By Sharon Robb

GWANGJU, South Korea, July 25, 2019—Caeleb Dressel held on to defend his 100-meter freestyle and flirted with a 10-year old world record on Day Five of the 18th FINA World Aquatics Championships Thursday at Nambu International Aquatics Centre.

The University of Florida and Bolles Club alum did break the American record by 2/10ths in 46.96, third fastest in history and only man to dip under 47 seconds. He was only 0.05 seconds off the 10-year-old world record of 46.91 set by Brazil’s Cesar Cielo.

“It hurt really bad to be honest,” Dressel said. “You don’t always get that magical feeling every night but you’ve just got to shut the brain off and go.

“It took 100 per cent effort and I had someone right there on my tail for me to race,” Dressel said. “I kind of shut off thinking about the race so that helped a lot and having Kyle (Chalmers) right there.”

It was Dressel’s third gold medal and fourth medal overall.

Dressel’s other golds came in the 50-meter butterfly, a non-Olympic event, and 4×100-meter freestyle relay. He took silver in the mixed 4×100-meter medley relay.

“I know I was just off the world record, but really the goal was just to swim the best race that I could, and if that was the time I got tonight, I was happy,” Dressel said. “I’m going to talk to [Coach Gregg] Troy, and I guarantee you the first thing he’s going to say is what we could have done better.”

After scratching from two events because of illness, five-time Olympic champion Katie Ledecky returned to the pool to help the U.S. win silver in the 4×200-meter freestyle behind Australia’s world record performance of 7:41.50 with Ariarne Titmus, Madison Wilson, Brianna Throssell and Emma McKeon. The previous record was 7:42.08 held by China. It was the first time the Aussies won a world title in the relay event. The U.S. had won three straight world titles.

“I wasn’t thinking about a world record,” McKeon said. “Was it a 2009 record? To break that this year is so exciting. I was hurting a lot but when it comes to a relay you really give it your all. Just touching the wall and seeing the three others celebrate, it made me so excited,” McKeon said.

Ledecky was joined by Katie McLaughlin, Melanie Margalis of St. Petersburg and Simone Manuel and finished in 7:41.87. Canada took the bronze.

Outspoken American Lilly King was disqualified from the 200-meter breaststroke prelims. She won the third heat in 2:24.56 but was disqualified for not touching the wall with both hands at the same time at the first turn of the four-lap race.

The U.S. team filed a formal protest which was denied by FINA’s appeals process and also lost a jury of appeal.

In other finals:

Boglarka Kapas out-touched Americans Hali Flickinger and Katie Drabot to win the women’s 200-meter butterfly in 2:06.78.

American Olivia Smoliga won the women’s 50-meter backstroke, a non-Olympic event, in 27.33. She won from Lane Two.

Japan’s Daiya Seto won the men’s 200-meter individual medley in 1:56.14, 0.42 seconds ahead of Jeremy Desplanches of Switzerland and 2017 champion Chase Kalisz, ending the Americans’ streak of winning at eight consecutive worlds.

It was the first time a non-American won the event at an Olympics or worlds since 2001, snapping a streak of 12 straight titles among Phelps (seven), Ryan Lochte (four) and Kalisz (one). Kalisz, who swept the IMs at 2017 Worlds, has the 400m IM later this week.

In other news, FINA, the sport’s international governing body, threatened to strip medals and ban swimmers who protest on podiums during the medal ceremonies under a new Code of Conduct provision. Brit Duncan Scott and Aussie Mack Horton failed to acknowledge China’s Sun Yang during two medal ceremonies. Sun is coached by Aussie Denis Cotterell.

Day Six prelims include the men’s 100-yard butterfly, women’s 200-meter backstroke, men’s 50-meter free, women’s 50-meter butterfly, women’s 800-meter freestyle and men’s 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay.

The world championships has brought together a record 2,620 athletes from 194 countries and territories around the world with 76 sets of medals up for grabs in pool swimming, open water swimming, water polo, diving and synchronized swimming.

The meet will be streamed and televised by the Olympic Channel and live timing will be available.

TV Schedule:

Live Results:

Sharon Robb can be reached at