Sat | Nov 27, 2021

‘It was extraordinary’ - Atkinson thrilled with ISL lessons and experience

Published:Sunday | January 3, 2021 | 12:12 AMHubert Lawrence - Sunday Gleaner Writer
Atkinson
Atkinson

Four-time Olympian Alia Atkinson has described her experience in the 2020 International Swimming League (ISL) as an extraordinary one.

Atkinson says her ISL teammates and coaches taught her a lot during the six-week series of swim meets in Budapest, Hungary. As a result, the Jamaican star has emerged ready to face the challenges ahead.

As a precaution against COVID-19, the ISL teams were in a so-called ‘bubble’ for the six weeks of competition.

Speaking from her base in the United States, the world short course 50- and 100-metre breaststroke record holder exulted, “It was extraordinary. It was a great experience. I got to learn a lot, not just from my fellow teammates, but from the coaching as well. People that I would never get the chance to sit down and talk to, because usually when I see them, they’re in the middle of competition, so they’re in race mode. So being relaxed and just having a normal conversation, those are things that I would never get the chance to do.”

The 32 year-old spoke highly of her teammates, who included Britain’s Adam Peaty, the world’s premier breaststroke swimmer.

“So I was really lucky and blessed to be a part of London Roar this year, and yes, it was fun to be a part of something bigger than myself, where every point counts towards the majority goal,” Atkinson shared.

GREAT REMINDER

“I think, mentally, especially with COVID and everything going on, it was a great reminder, being part of a team, to just be mentally strong throughout everything,” concluded the 2012 and 2016 Olympic 100-metre breaststroke finalist.

Atkinson thrived in such an uplifting atmosphere, peaking in the 100m breaststroke with a victory timed in 1 minute 02.66 seconds in the November 14-15 semi-final leg, and added a nippy third place in the November 21-22 final in the 50-metre breaststroke with a swim timed at 28.88 seconds.

Her short course world records are 28.56 seconds and 1.02.36.

Atkinson would normally have staged swim clinics in Jamaica in December but the Olympics and the COVID-19 outbreak have prompted a scheduling rethink.

“Last time, I got a lot of swimmers from the US and the UK that wanted to join, so with international travel not bringing them down, it wouldn’t have made sense,” she noted.

sports@gleanerjm.com