Alia in fine form for London Roar in the NetherlandsSunday, November 28, 2021
She may be 32 years old, but the manner in which Alia Atkinson is performing at the third edition of the International Swimming League (ISL) it's almost as if she has rolled back the clock on her years.
The Jamaican champion swimmer again came up trumps for her London Roar team in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, as she swam five events in the penultimate play-off match to put her team on the cusp of contesting another final.
Atkinson, who will celebrate her 33rd birthday in a few weeks' time, won the 50m and 100m breaststroke, as well as the 4X100m medley relay, before playing a part on the bronze medal-winning mixed 4X100m medley relay team.
She was later asked to venture in uncharted waters for the first time since the play-offs started, solely to secure points, and that she did, placing sixth in the 100m butterfly.
Though her gallant efforts didn't put the Steven Tigg-coached London Roar over the top, it did secure them second place and one foot in the four-team grand finale, scheduled for December 3 and 4, pending the outcome of the final play-off match today.
French-based Energy Standard, the 2019 champions, won Friday's match with 539.5 points, followed by London Roar with 498.5 points. LA Current (394.5 points) and DC Trident (284.5 points) completed the table.
Prior to the start of the two-day match which started on Thursday, Atkinson said:
“Our team has been getting better with each competition, so I am looking forward for a really exciting match.''
And exciting it was, as she opened her account with a scorching 29.19-second clocking, her fastest time this year in the 50m breaststroke.
Atkinson, who blitzed the event in a post-to-post performance, turned back the challenges of the LA Current pair of Israel champion Anastasia Gorbenko (29.68s) and British champion Imogen Clark (29.96s), who both relegated her to second-place finishes earlier in the season.
The Jamaican also jackpotted the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth-placed finishers in the process, earning a whopping 19 points.
Atkinson returned soon after, producing another fine display on the breaststroke leg of the 4X100m medley relay to make it two in two. She clocked 1:03.76, combining with Kira Toussaint, Marie Wattel and Emma McKeon to win in 3:47.48.
Energy Standard (3:48.58) and LA Current (3:49.34) took the minor placing.
The five-time Jamaican Olympian was then called upon to join teammate Wattel in the 100m butterfly, to gather points, and she contributed three, in her 57.32s clocking for sixth.
Wattel (57.05s) was fourth, behind the top three of Sarah Sjostrom (55.51s) of Energy Standard, LA Current's Anna Ntountounaki (56.33s) and DC Trident's Linnea Mack (57.01s).
Atkinson then resumed winning ways on Friday, strolling to 1:04.38 in the 100m breaststroke, again bettering Gorbenko (1:05.13) and Energy Standard's Evgenia Chikunova (1:05.79).
The South Florida Aquatic Club stalwart exploded off the blocks with a reaction time of .063 seconds, and utilised her strong under water pullout to take command of the race. She executed her signature power turn off the wall and from there it became a mere formality.
Atkinson returned mere minutes later to close her account with a 1:04.41-clocking on the breaststroke leg of the mixed medley relay where her team, comprising Trinidadian Dylan Carter, Vincent Lanza and Freya Anderson, placed third in 3:37.17.
The event was won by Energy Standard (3:33.32) ahead of LA Current (3:35.87).
— Sherdon Cowan