The team to beat

Sports

The team to beat

Atkinson exudes confidence after London Roar's impressive ISL start

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

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To say that Jamaica's Alia Atkinson and her London Roar team are off and running at the second edition of the International Swimming League (ISL) would be an understatement. In fact, if the confidence exuded by the champion swimmer is anything to go by, then their nine competitors — defending ISL champions Energy Standard, Cali Condors, NY Breakers, LA Current, Aqua Centurions, DC Trident, Tokyo Frog Kings, Toronto Titans and Team Iron — are in for some tough competition in the battle for the coveted title this year.

Outside of a few meets in Europe, Asia and Australia, the ISL competition is the first legitimate meet for many of the world's best swimmers in seven months, making it all the more intense, as swimmers were training and waiting for this event.

The six-week competition is being hosted in a biosecure environment to ensure the health and safety of all involved. All meets will take place at the Duna Arena in Budapest, Hungary, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Atkinson and her new team, coached by former British stalwart Melanie Marshall, had an impressive start to their campaign, as they tallied a massive 609.5 points to comfortably win Match Two of the ISL and underline their intentions for the remainder of the season.

London Roar's dream start and convincing victory over Team Iron (392.5 points), DC Trident (350.0 points) and Aqua Centurions (344 points) on Monday was heavily aided by Atkinson, who copped three gold medals and one silver, over two thrilling days of action.

Atkinson pointed out that the aim of her team was always to throw down the proverbial gauntlet from the get-go, and as such, their over 200-point win was a very significant statement to make.

“We wanted to go out there and show what London Roar could do. We wanted to start as best we can and keep on moving forward from there. That was our strategy, everybody stepped up tremendously and there were a few PBs (personal best times),” Atkinson, formerly of Team Iron, said in a post-event interview.

Atkinson, 31, who on Sunday's opening day, kept her unbeaten run at the ISL intact with an 11th-consecutive win in the 50-metre breaststroke, and joined forces with Dutch national record holder Kira Toussaint, Frenchwoman Marie Wattel, and Russia's 50m freestyle record holder Maria Kameneva, to top the 4x100 medley relay, picked up where she left off on Monday's final day of action.

She added seven points of her team's tally when she clocked 58.97 seconds for silver in the 100m medley, behind London Roar teammate Maria Kameneva (58.86s). Jenna Laukkanen (59.04) of Team Iron was third.

However, one could sense that she wasn't done yet, and so it was, as she produced yet another stellar breaststroke display when storming to victory in the 100m event in 1:04.21 minutes, over the Aqua Centurions pair of Martina Carraro (1:04.49) and Arianna Castiglioni (1:04.64).

With 32 points to her personal credit and win number one in the bag for her team, the four-time Olympian says the confidence level is now high, as they look ahead to their second match against the DC Trident, LA Current, and the Tokyo Frog Kings next Friday and Saturday.

“Coming off such a stellar competition last year, we really wanted to make a statement and show everybody that London Roar is here to stay,” a beaming Atkinson declared.

“We really wanted to show the competition that we are still the ones to beat and we are going out each and every race to show that. I think going forward we have a lot more confidence in ourselves, we can experiment a little bit more in races and it's just good to have fun,” she added.

After their rampant performance, London Roar jointly head the clubs' season standings on four points with Match One winners Cali Condors of San Francisco. Energy Standard and Team Iron are next on three points each, followed by DC Trident, and LA Current on two points.


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