By Sharon Robb
July 8, 2014–Three-time Jamaican Olympian Alia Atkinson will use this week’s Speedo Champions Series Southern Zone South Sectional Championships in Orlando as her final tuneup before the July 24-August 2 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
The four-day Orlando meet will serve as a gauge for her longtime South Florida Aquatic club coach Chris Anderson and Atkinson before they leave Monday for training camp in Corby, England where Anderson is national team coach of the six-swimmer Jamaican contingent.
Atkinson, 25, is seeded first in the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:06.79 ahead of University of Michigan-bound Emily Kopas, 17, of Swim Fort Lauderdale (1:09.94).
Atkinson is also entered in the 100-meter butterfly and 50-meter freestyle and will compete on three relays (800 freestyle, 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays). At the Commonwealth Games she will focus solely on the 50-, 100- and 200-meter breaststroke events.
“Alia has been working hard,” Anderson said. “We still have a scheduled lifting program Thursday and Sunday of this week. I know where she is training, but we want to see if she is on the right track with certain splits (50 breast and 200 free in relays). We want to see where she is at.
“It’s not only a tuneup for the Commonwealth Games, it is going to be an awesome team event for us,” Anderson said. “It’s also a tuneup for junior nationals and senior southern zones.”
Atkinson will be joined by 26 of her SOFLO teammates. They are Florida State-bound Marc Rojas, 20; Florida Gulf Coast sophomore Marcella Marinheiro, 19; Xavier Brown, 19; Ryan Capote, 16; Jordan Colon, 17; Esteban Diaz-Velasco, 15; Kathleen Golding, 13; Matthew Gonzalez, 19; Kylie Herman, 16; Kelley Heron, 14; Amber Hunter, 18; Olivia Katcher, 18; CJ Kopecki, 14; Florida International University-bound Maria Lopez, 18; Juan Lucas, 15; Ervin Marin, 14; Melissa Marinheiro, 17; Alfredo Mesa, 15; Delanie Perez, 13; Jessica Rodriguez, 15; Ronald Santos, 18; Jonathan Strod, 15; Bowie Suen, 18; Carly Swanson, 16; Liz Arlet Travieso, 15; Gustavo Valery, 16; and Alejandro Zambrano, 19.
The field features a good mix of Olympian, world and national champions, college and age group swimmers. Atkinson isn’t the only swimmer using it as a tuneup meet. Several swimmers are looking to gauge their training for upcoming meets including senior and junior nationals.
Elizabeth Beisel, Katie Hoff, Arkady Vyatchanin, Mitch D’Arrigo, Brad DeBorde, Sebastian Rousseau, Cristian Quintero, Arthur Frayler, Dan Wallace, Marcin Cieslak, Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez and Pavel Sankovich are among the field.
Olympic gold medalist Claire Donahue, 25, a frequent training partner of Atkinson’s during holiday breaks at SOFLO, is seeded first in the 100-meter butterfly in 57.42.
Michigan-bound Clara Smiddy, 18, of AquaKids Sharks, is seeded first in the 100-meter backstroke in 1:00.51 and second in the 200-meter backstroke in 2:10.69.
Kopas is seeded first in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:32.58 just ahead of Hoff, 25, of Hurricane Aquatics in 2:32.64.
University of Florida’s Carlos Omana, 21, of Metro Aquatics is the highest seeded Florida Gold Coast male swimmer seeded third in the 400-meter individual medley.
In addition to SOFLO, Florida Gold Coast will be well-represented by 20 teams among the 79-team field of 776 swimmers.
Other FGC teams entered are AquaKids Sharks, Azura Florida Aquatics, Blue Marlins, Boca Raton, Hurricane Aquatics, Coral Springs Swim Club, Golden Panther Aquatics, Gulliver, Hialeah Storm, Jupiter Dragons, Lake Lytal Lightning, Metro Aquatics, Miami Swimming, North Palm Beach, Oxbridge, Pine Crest Swimming, Plantation Swim Team, Rockway, St. Andrew’s Swimming and Swim Fort Lauderdale.
IF YOU GO
What: Speedo Champions Series Southern Zone South Sectional Championship
Schedule: Thursday, timed finals 5 p.m.; Friday, prelims 9 a.m., finals 5 p.m.; Saturday, prelims 9 a.m., finals 5 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m., 4 p.m. finals.
Where: YMCA Aquatic Center, 8422 International Drive, Orlando
Webcast: Florida Swim Network will live stream the meet Friday through Sunday at FloridaSwimNetwork.com or tune in to its livestream channel.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com