Fri | Feb 21, 2020

Atkinson takes third at Champions Series

Published:Wednesday | January 15, 2020 | 12:55 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer

Champion swimmer Alia Atkinson began her 2020 season with a third-place finish in the 50m breaststroke on the opening day of the FINA Champions Swim Series at the Shenzhen Universiade Center Swimming Natatorium in Shenzhen, China, yesterday.

Atkinson, the short course world record holder, took bronze in 30.63 seconds behind United States’ Molly Hannis in 30.49 seconds and winner Martina Carraro of Italy, who touched the wall in 30.38 seconds.

Carraro, the 2018 Short Course World Championship bronze medallist, was 0.79 seconds off her personal best of 29.59 seconds set in 2018 in Hangzhou, China. The 26-year-old said that she was pleased with her effort and the competition format, believing that it offers a new challenge.

“The result is quite OK for me as it is my second best time in the event. It’s cool to have four swimmers in the final because it’s a different type of competition. It is new and I’m happy about it,” Carraro said.

Atkinson is making her debut in the competition, which is in its second year, having been specially invited to compete exclusively with the top swimmers from around the world.

The first meet of the circuit, according to her, serves as a measuring tool to assess her preparations for the Olympic Games later this year.

“Being the beginning of 2020 and given the field of athletes here, this competition is important to see where I am and also to measure what I can succeed at, at the Olympics, what is in reach or not,” Atkinson said.

Atkinson earned US$6,000 (J$793,000) for her third-place finish and will have an opportunity to increase her total when the second day of the first meet begins today at 8:19 a.m.

She will battle Carraro again, this time in the 100m breaststroke along with China’s Yu Jingyao and Canada’s Sydney Pickrem, the 2019 world champion in the 200m breaststroke and individual medley bronze medallist

The second meet of the series will take place in Beijing this weekend starting on Saturday.