Mon | Aug 20, 2018

Swim of the year ... Atkinson picks her favourite performance in the pool

Published:Friday | December 8, 2017 | 12:00 AMHubert Lawrence

Although she won more than a dozen races during the prestigious FINA Swimming World Cup series, Jamaica's Alia Atkinson points to an early-season warm-up swim as her personal highlight for 2017.

Renowned as a champion breaststroker, the three-time Olympian pinpoints a July splash in the 100-metre butterfly event as her swim of the year. A national-record time fit neatly into her plan to excel in a wide range of swim stroke disciplines.

After a rest in the first three months of the year, Atkinson opened her 2017 season with the 100-metre butterfly record of 59.94 seconds in July at the Southern Zone sectional championships in the USA.

Speaking days ahead of her annual swimming clinic in Kingston, she was still excited about that effort in July.

"I like to make sure that I'm a jack of all trades," Atkinson shared. "Even though I like to think I've mastered the breaststroke, I haven't, but I have different times I wanted to make outside of the breaststroke, so I was really happy because after I had competed in 2016, I hadn't reached any of them."

She believes that the record was aided by the break she took at the 2016 season.

"I think it was just a shock for the body and a fresh start, but I broke one of them in the 100 fly," she related. "That's a big highlight in my mind because going under a minute means you could pass for a butterfly."

Later in July, she lowered the national record in the 100-metre freestyle to 55.35 seconds to take that mark through the 56-second barrier for the first time.

While she is tempted to try one of her secondary events in a major championship, schedule clashes make that experiment well nigh impossible.

"The main reason I haven't picked up any other strokes [is that] it usually collides with another breaststroke event, so you have either the 100 breast, and usually the 100 fly with it ,or I have the 200 IM, but the 200 breast is on the same day."

Atkinson, who turns 29 on December 11, has set national records in the backstroke, freestyle, butterfly, breaststroke and individual medal (IM) disciplines.