Jamaica Gleaner / Alia Atkinson marked herself as the queen of the breaststroke in 2017 and swam her way into contention for the prestigious RJRGLEANER National Sportswoman of the Year Award. Already the short-course world record holder for the 100 metre breaststroke, Atkinson dominated that event and the 50 metres variety on the FINA World Cup circuit. Amazingly, she compiled 11 wins from 12 finals.
She was undefeated in the shorter event and brooked just one loss in the 100-breaststroke.
Not only did she win, Atkinson posted breaststroke times other swimmers envy. She finished the season as the short-course world leader in the 50 metres at 28.84 seconds and the 100 metres at 1 minute 02.67 seconds and as world number five over the 200 metres distance. Versatile as ever, she also was the fifth-fastest in the world in the 100 metre individual medal with a swim of 58.12 seconds.
Her record-breaking season began early. Before her 13-win, eight-city World Cup tour began, she primed herself with national records in the 100 metre butterfly, where her swim of 59.94 seconds made her the first Jamaican to beat the minute mark, and in the 100 metres freestyle, where she took the standard under 56 with her time of 55.35 seconds.
She later took the 100-metre butterfly record down to 57.56 seconds.
Charmingly modest, Atkinson deflects the assertion that she is Jamaica’s best swimmer ever.
“When you think about it in terms of being the best of the best of the best, at a certain point, everybody is the best of something, and I think I’m just reaching out into a new area. At this moment, I am the best Alia …”