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'Alia will definitely get world record'

Published:Monday | January 19, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Coach of world champion swimmer targets 50m, 100m marks; Olympic medal

Shayne Fairman, Gleaner Writer

Christopher Anderson, who coaches Jamaican world champion swimmer Alia Atkinson from his South Florida Aquatic Club base in the United States of America, is confident the joint 100-metre breaststroke world-record holder will soon have no equal.

Atkinson, he is certain, will shatter the 50-metre mark soon, adding that Team Atkinson wants sole ownership of the 100m milestone as early as next year.

She swam a stupendous 1:02.36 in Doha, Qatar, to join Lithuania's Ruta Meilutyte's 2012 mark in the famed spot.

Atkinson, now the most celebrated black Caribbean and Jamaican swimmer, was last Friday crowned the country's top sportswoman for 2014 at the RJR Sports Foundation National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards. The awards ceremony was held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel.

work paying off

Following the announcement, which was received with tumultuous applause and a standing ovation, Coach Anderson, like many, thinks the swimmer's hard work is paying off.

"The 50-metre short course world record came pretty easy and kinda happened on the whim," he said. "Alia will definitely get the world record, definitely the 50m backstroke. The 50m is easy," Anderson told The Gleaner last Friday after the awards ceremony.

"I think the 100 will be a little more difficult because it's a little faster and stronger, but I think it (50m world record) will happen around next December, once we do our tune-ups," he assessed.

Next on the agenda for Atkinson is the Pan American Games.

"This will be her fourth PanAm Games and I have coached her for all of them," the swim coach underlined.

Having now taken the 26-year-old to dizzying heights, Anderson is eyeing nothing but success as he looks forward to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in Brazil.

Atkinson is already a three-time Olympian. She finished just outside a medal at the last Olympics in London in 2012, placing fourth in the 100m breaststroke.

Anderson is clear what needs to be done to see his star swimmer reach the medal enclosure.

"We have some small tune-ups to roll in going into the Olympics, but we will be ready," he assured.

"It's really within just 550 days to the next Olympics and we are really trying to make sure summer, and the following summer, and into late July, that she peaks at the right time.

"The 100m breaststroke will be our aim and we will find a way to get a medal," Anderson outlined.

outstanding jamaicans

He also credited Jamaicans for making their mark in swimming.

"The really good thing is there are a lot of Jamaicans involved in the emergence process of swimming and I have coached a lot of them from the national team, as well as national record holders who mesh together well," he pointed out.

"The Jamaicans have been doing a great job, in the discipline, in coming together and doing the right things well," he continued.

"There are big swimmers in Jamaica," he added.

Anderson described his coaching style as working from behind the scenes and being very committed, while basking in the glory only after the work is done.

"I do stay behind the scenes. Swimming requires a lot of work, and it requires us running our own schedule and doing our own thing.

"We try to stay out of the limelight and do what we need to do and, hopefully, the best things will work out and go our way," he reasoned.

"The sport (swimming) does require 35 and 40 hours of work weekly, the other times we have just to rest," Anderson stressed.