By Sharon Robb
October 28, 2014—Alia Atkinson knocked off world record holder Ruta Meilutyte, just missing her world record by a half-second, on Day One of the FINA/MASTBANK World Cup Series Tuesday in Tokyo, Japan.
The three-time Jamaican Olympian and South Florida Aquatic Club swimmer won the 100-meter breaststroke in a lifetime-best short course time and Jamaican national record in 1:02.86.
It was also the first time Atkinson, now ranked No. 2 on the all-time short course list, had beaten the Lithuanian in any breaststroke event. She earned another $1,500 for the victory.
Meilutyte, coming off a layoff, is returning to heavy training and competition in preparation for the upcoming world championships.
Atkinson was joined by her longtime SOFLO coach Chris Anderson for the two-day Tokyo meet and final stop in Singapore.
“She swam well tonight but is still hungry to improve,” Anderson said. “I am looking forward to some fast breaststroke swimming in the next few days.”
Atkinson was coming off a two gold, one bronze medal and $3,500 performance on the opening leg in Beijing. She is zeroing in on the $30,000 third place spot on the leading points and money list.
Great Britain, which sent a contingent to Tokyo, had one national record broken. Fran Halsall broke the 50-meter backstroke record in 26.42, shaving .03 off the previous mark set in December by Lizzie Simmonds. Halsall now has six national short course records.
In other final events:
Women’s 800-meter freestyle: Spain’s Mireia Belmonte-Garcia won in 8:08.57 for her fourth win in the distance event over six stops. She outsprinted Hungarian Katinka Hosszu, who was second in 8:09.27. Florida alum Elizabeth Beisel took a bronze in 8:19.32 and $500 in 8:19.32.
Men’s 400-meter individual medley: Daiya Seto of Japan won his second consecutive World Cup race in the event against a good field in 3:59.91, the only swimmer to break the 4-minute mark.
Men’s 100-meter freestyle: Without Chad le Clos of South Africa in the field, the race was wide open and slow. Katsumi Nakamura of Japan won in 47.30, edging Russian Sergei Fesikov (47.31) and German Steffen Deibler (47.35).
Women’s 200-meter fresstyle: Hosszu won her first race of the night and 111th World Cup overall win, in 1:52.45. She has not lost a 200 race since last September.
Men’s 50-meter breaststroke: South African Roland Schoeman won in 26.02 edging Hungarian Daniel Gyurta (26.60). Bolles alum George Bovell of Trinidad and Tobago was fourth in 26.85.
Women’s 100-meter butterfly: Inge Dekker of the Netherlands won in 56.11. Hosszu was second in 56.94.
Men’s 100-meter backstroke: American Eugene Godsoe won in 50.49 for his first World Cup win of the season.
Men’s 200-meter butterfly: South African Chad le Clos won in 1:49.20 ahead of Japan’s Daiya Seto (1:49.68).
Women’s 200-meter individual medley: Hosszu, who has already clinched the top money spot, won her second event of the night in 2:05.18. American Caitlin Leverenz was second in 2:06.15. Beisel was fifth in 2:08.55.
Men’s 400-meter freestyle: South African Myles Brown won in 3:37.96.
Women’s 50-meter freestyle: Brit Fran Halsall upset Inge Dekker to win in 23.80. Dekker was second in 23.89.
Men’s 200-meter breaststroke: Daniel Gyurta of Hungary won in 2:02.12.
Men’s 100-meter individual medley: Japan’s Kosuke Hagino won in 52.03. Bovell was fifth in 52.89.
Women’s 200-meter backstroke: If anyone thinks Iron Lady is running out of gas, guess again. Hosszu won her third event in 2:01.97, just a second off her national record. Beisel was sixth in 2:05.77.
Men’s 50-meter butterfly: Chad le Clos won his second event in 22.20 ahead of Roland Schoeman in 22.66.
Mixed 200-meter medley relay: Japan clubs swept the top four places with the winning time in 1:40.51.
The competition continues for one more day in Tokyo.
This is the sixth leg of the tour that started in Doha and Dubai in August. The final stop is Singapore (Nov. 1-2).
Swimmers are racing for $1,500 for first, $1,000 for second and $500 for third. There is also a $10,000 bonus offered for a world record performance swim.
The stakes are high with $300,000 in prize money offered to the sixth highest ranked men and women swimmers.
After the Singapore leg, the men’s and women’s World Cup winners will be awarded $100,000, second place $50,000 and third place $30,000.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com