LONDON, England — After finally mastering the new stroke technique she has been working on, Alia Atkinson will finally get to see how well her preparations have been going when she starts her third Olympic campaign in the heats of the 100m breaststroke event at the Aquatic Centre this morning.
The 23-year-old Atkinson, who will compete in three events here, including the 200m breaststroke and 50m freestyle, told the Jamaica Observer after a training session yesterday that she has been preparing well.
"Training has been going well and I am feeling stronger each day, which is good," she said.
She told the Observer that the new stroke technique which has been used by most of the Australians and which employs a stronger kick, "is coming along, it is more controlled now".
Brimming with confidence, Atkinson, the lone Jamaican swimmer at the London Olympics and who qualified with the A standard for the 100m breaststroke when she swam a personal best one minute 08.45 seconds at the Santa Clara International Grand Prix in Northern California in early June, just under the one minute 08.49 seconds qualifying mark, said she expects to make it to Monday night's final. However, she said it was important that she swam fast this morning and placed well in her heat to ensure she moves on to the semi-finals later today.
Atkinson, who has competed in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics as well as the last two Commonwealth Games, will swim in heat three of six and the semi-finals are set for later today at 7:45 pm here (1:45 pm Jamaica time).
Atkinson, the Jamaican flag bearer at the 2007 Pan-American Games in Brasil, will also be wearing a high tech, state-of-the-art swim suit that costs £450, Martin Lyn, the president of the Amateur Swimming Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) told the Observer yesterday.
"The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) and the ASAJ are not sparing any costs to ensure Alia gets the best chance of making a final," he said, explaining that it takes the swimmers 30 minutes to put on and take off the suit each time she trains or competes in it.
"We are taking this to a new level," he added.
The 2010 NCAA 200m breaststroke champion while competing for Texas A&M will return to the pool Wednesday morning when she will contest the first round heats of the 200m breaststroke and is also down for the first round of the 50m freestyle on Friday morning.
ATKINSON... training has been going well and I am feeling stronger each day