Alia's London Roar finish third at ISL; Cali Condors take most of US$6-m prize


Alia's London Roar finish third at ISL; Cali Condors take most of US$6-m prize

Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

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Jamaica's champion swimmer Alia Atkinson and her London Roar team had to settle for third position at this year's International Swimming League (ISL), as the curtains came down on a thrilling second edition of the series in Budapest, Hungary, on Sunday.

After a fairly slow start on day one, Atkinson and London Roar teammates needed to be at their best, which they were for the most part, but Cali Condors were relentless in their pursuit to banish last year's memories and maintained a strong rhythm throughout to claim the coveted title and the lion's share of the US$6-million prize money.

The San Francisco-based Cali Condors, which placed third behind Energy Standard and London Roar in Las Vegas last year, turned the tables on their rivals amassing 561.5 points over two days and 39 races to emerge victorious and end the season as the only undefeated team, having won all four of their preliminary matches and semi-final clash.

They dethroned Paris-based Energy Standard (464.5 points), while London Roar tallied 391 points for third. Like they did last year, LA Current (298 points) again placed fourth in the four-team finale.

One would feel the positioning of the teams are almost justified, as London Roar entered the final as the third rated team with 2,007 rating points, just behind Cali Condors 2,222 and Energy Standard 2,291.

Atkinson, for her part, followed up her silver and bronze medal performances in her two events — the 50m breaststroke and the women's 4X100m medley relay — from Saturday's opening day with another silver-medal performance in the 100m breaststroke inside the Duna Arena.

The 31-year-old Atkinson, who entered the 100m breaststroke ranked at the top of the pile, following her sensational season's best and world leading 1:02.66 clocked in semi-final action last week, saw that time erased by 23-year-old American Lilly King of Cali Condors.

After leaving the blocks in her usual brisk reaction time of 0.65, Atkinson found King a handful, and despite her best efforts failed to peg back her younger counterpart, who won in a new world leading 1:02.50.

King was just shy of Atkinson's world record of 1:02.36, done in 2014 and 2016 in Qatar and France, respectively. Atkinson was second in 1:03.56, with King's teammate Molly Hannis (1:03.57) in third.

The four-time Olympian and three-time Jamaican female athlete of the year later contested the 50m breaststroke skins where she bagged 11 additional points for her team, though it later proved futile.

She placed fourth in the first round in 29.58s, joining the top-three finishers King (28.96), Energy Standard's Benedetta Pilato (29.23) and Hannis (29.57) in round two.

There, Atkinson went one better, finishing third in 29.68, again behind the Condors pair of King (29.22) and Hannis (29.56), who secured the top-two spots to the final round, where King (29.14) won, with Hannis some ways behind in 30.04.

Yesterday's thrilling conclusion ended five weeks of competition featuring more than 320 of the world's best swimmers from over 50 countries, who have been accommodated in a COVID-secure bio-bubble on Margaret Island on the Danube River.

The ISL was contested by 10 international teams from Europe (Italy-based Aqua Centurions, France-based Energy Standard, Hungary-based Iron, and London Roar), North America (Cali Condors, DC Trident, LA Current, NY Breakers and Toronto Titans), and Asia (Tokyo Frog Kings).

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