Atkinson set to Roar in ISL
After months away from the pool, Olympian Alia Atkinson will return to competitive action when she contests her second season in the International Swimming League (ISL), which is set to begin on October 16.
The 31-year-old Atkinson, who participated in the ISL’s debut campaign last year with Hungarian-based team Team Iron, will instead be taking her talents to the London Roar, who went to the finals last year in Las Vegas but finished second behind inaugural winners Energy Standard of France.
Atkinson says that she is committed to helping the Roar go one step further and capture the title.
“I am excited for the opportunity to showcase my breaststroke talents as well as, hopefully, the 100 Individual Medley,” she told The Gleaner. “This team placed second last year in the finals, so I am hoping together with some new talents added to the team, we can win the ISL championship this year.”
Although Team Iron was unsuccessful in reaching the 2019 final, Atkinson contributed to her team’s cause with wins in the 50m and 100m breaststroke disciplines on the circuit in meets in Lewisville, Budapest, and London.
Her 2020 season has seen upheaval because of the coronavirus pandemic, which led to the cancellation or postponement of several events that were on the calendar, including the Tokyo Olympics, for which she has already qualified. Her decision to return for a second ISL season was made in light of the massive chances that the pandemic has created this year.
“I originally wanted to participate in the World Cup this year and forgo the ISL, however, due to COVID and the World Cup being cancelled, I decided to go for a second season in the ISL,” she said.
Two new teams will be added to this year’s competition, the Toronto Titans and the Tokyo Frogs. The tournament will take place in a bio-secure environment on Margaret Island in Hungary. Atkinson says that the protocols will be similar to bubble tournaments that have been developed to safeguard athletes and personnel.
“I believe as of now, the protocols they have in place will be similar to that of other sports that are in a ‘bubble’, getting tested regularly and confined to the hotel and the pool,” she said. “Everyone will be doing their best to stick to the protocols and stay safe.”
Five meets will take place in October and November before the semi-finals, which are scheduled for November 19-22. Organisers are currently in discussions to have the final this year in Tokyo.