Sun | Sep 25, 2022

Atkinson getting ready for Worlds

Published:Sunday | June 30, 2019 | 12:28 AMHubert Lawrence - Sunday Gleaner Writer

When the World Championships begin on July 12, Alia Atkinson will be ready. That’s the indication from Atkinson herself during swim clinics in Jamaica this week. Atkinson, the first black woman to win a world title, will go hunting for more in Gwangju, South Korea.

Atkinson, who is Jamaica’s most accomplished swimmer, views the Worlds and the World Cup series, which will follow, as stepping stones into next year’s Olympic Games. Speaking at The University of the West Indies, where she was conducting a clinic for children, she said, “I believe for me it’s mostly trying to be as physically fit as I can be now and mentally fit going into the Worlds in a couple of weeks, and that kinda shoots you into the World Cup Series as well as going August into December.”

Looking further ahead, she projected, “So that will be some really good training just to see where I am, seeing how fast I can get, and that will definitely prep me to the best I can be at the beginning of 2020.”

Though she is a veteran of the sport at 30, she isn’t planning to trim down her racing portfolio at the Worlds, where she will go in the 50 metres breaststroke, 100 metres breaststroke and the 50 metres butterfly.

“For me, Worlds is about six to seven days, so there are enough days in between,” Atkinson explained. “As I get older, the main thing I realise is not necessarily trimming down the events, I don’t really have that wide of a selection anyway, but it’s learning how to train on a 30-year-old body. I can’t just jump in and go twenty 100s all out and then jump back in later and do ten.”

That transition isn’t the easier thing.

“I don’t really know many people my age in the sport still, and the ones that I do talk to, it’s a completely different atmosphere,” said the winner of both Short and Long Course World titles. “It’s more finances from the country, the country helps them with physical therapy, nutrition, weights, and it’s, basically, they’re being taught everything.”

“It’s, basically, 50-year-old people who have done it already and are teaching them how to do it,” Atkinson detailed. “Whereas me, I’m starting from scratch teaching my own self how to do it along the way.”

Nevertheless, the 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympian is steeling herself to perform at a high level.

“I think the challenges like me,” she said cheerfully. “Challenges like me is what I want to say.”