Atkinson eyes short course swim record
JAMAICA'S swimming ace Alia Atkinson, confident after her exploits at the 2012 Olympic Games, is targeting the 100m breaststroke short course world record in December.
Her coach Christopher Anderson believes the 23-year-old, who has a personal best of 1:06.05, can slice four seconds off her time and break American Rebecca Soni's current mark of 1:02.70 set in Great Britain in 2009.
The 11th FINA World Short Course Championships will take place on December 12-16 at the Sinan Erdem Arena in Istanbul, Turkey. Atkinson turns 24 on December 11, a day before the championships.
Anderson, noting that Atkinson has "plenty of international experience", said the London Games "opened her eyes and reinforced her confidence and has given her even more confidence".
"At this point I feel she can obtain a world record," Anderson added. "That is where the bar is set at. She is top six in the world now. She can take it to another level, saying if I am going to this, I'm shooting not for a medal, but shooting for a world record."
At the last World Short Course Championships in Dubai in 2010, Atkinson reached the final of both the 50m and 200m breaststroke events, placing sixth (30.22 seconds) and eighth (2:25.49), respectively.
In both events, she swam faster in the earlier rounds, with times of 30.19 and 2:21.65. In the 100m breaststroke, she finished ninth in the semi-finals in 1:06.05.
Anderson argues that Atkinson is more suited to the short course, 25-metre pool and her renewed confidence is a plus.
"She has emerged into a new, athletic, fit, 'aquabody' I like to call it. She looks great in the body. She is streamlined, she's strong, she's powerful. With a little more strength in her kick and change in tempo she can break the 1:04 barrier soon," he said.
The upcoming championships will be Atkinson's third, having also competed in Indianopolis in October 2004. She took part in three freestyle, breaststroke and medley events, with her best placing coming in both the 50m breaststroke and 400m medley. She finished in 17th place in both prelims.
For the new year, Anderson hopes Atkinson can compete in at least seven circuit or World Cup meets to prepare for next year's World Championships in Spain from July 19 to August 4.
The circuit meets are usually held in Dubai, Singapore, Tokyo, Berlin, Moscow, Stockholm, Beijing and Doha.
Atkinson has so far competed in three Olympic Games, her first as a 15-year-old in Athens 2004 and the second in Beijing four years later.
She barely missed out on a medal in London, placing fourth in the 100m breaststroke in a time of 1:06.93.