Sun | Nov 28, 2021

Atkinson getting sharp for ISL playoffs

Published:Friday | October 15, 2021 | 12:08 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
ATKINSON
ATKINSON

When the International Swimming League (ISL) playoffs begin in Eindhoven, Netherlands next month, Alia Atkinson will dive into action with the end of her illustrious career in sight. Atkinson, the most accomplished Jamaican swimmer of all time, is revved up to do her very best.

With three 50m and 100m breaststroke ISL double wins, the 32 year-old five-time Olympian helped her team, the London Roar, to emerge from the first round of the ISL in Naples, Italy. She said those swims were instructive.

“It was a good indication on what I need to work on, where my strengths are, the things I need to fine-tune before going back for the playoffs,” Atkinson said. “So, for me, it was just more of figuring out what I can do, how best I can get into shape, the fastest times I can do, how I feel in the water and then taking all that I’ve learned and then using this next six weeks in between to fine-tune those things so when I go back there in November, I will be able to be a little bit sharper.”

DESIGNED FOR SPEED

Her training between then and now will be designed to fire up her speed.

“I think, for right now, it’s more on maintaining endurance and then getting back to that fast-reaction stuff, quick medicine ball throws, quick turns off the walls, quick jumps and just getting back that speed which I feel like I’ve lost throughout the years,” she said.

Atkinson is the world short course record holder in both the 50m and the 100m breaststroke and her “triple-double” in this year’s ISL has put a smile on her face.

“It definitely garnered some confidence, but, for me and where I am in my career, it’s more of let’s see how, if, I can get back to the times I was at one last time,” she said with reference to a decision she made to retire after the Tokyo Olympics.

Ever the competitor, the four-time world short course champion observed, “It really is a wake-up call to how fast I was a decade ago, not even a decade, maybe like five or six years ago, because I feel so fast in the water and I’m about a second and half off. So it really was a testament to what I was doing back then.”

She set world records of 28.56 seconds in 2018 and 1:02.36 minutes in 2014.

With her focus on the ISL, she chose not to compete in the FINA World Cup. Instead, she’ll be cranking up her starts, turns and drives in training.

“I noticed it’s not as springy as it used to be. Whether that’s age or something else, I don’t know,” she said, “but seeing if I can bring that back for one last swim.”

Eindhoven will host the playoffs, which are semi-finals with the final set for January 2022.

sports@gleanerjm.com