ALIA ON A HIGH
J'can puts London Roar on course for International Swimming League titleMonday, November 16, 2020
BY SHERDON COWAN
Jamaica's Alia Atkinson produced a season's best 1:02.66 to win the women's 100 metre breaststroke as her London Roar team booked a spot in the final at the second edition of the International Swimming League (ISL) in Budapest, Hungary, yesterday.
Following a spirited start to the semi-final on Saturday, when she claimed two silver medals in the 50m breaststroke and the 4x100m medley relay, complemented by a new national 100m butterfly record, Atkinson literally saved the best for last to end the match on a high.
Her dominant breaststroke display brought about her fourth fastest career time, behind her world record swim of 1:02.36 done in 2014 and 2016 in Qatar and France, respectively, and 1:02.40 clocked in Singapore 2016.
Atkinson's performance over the two days aided in ensuring that the Melanie Marshall-coached London Roar remain on course to capture the coveted title at the five-week competition in the central European country.
With another good day in the pool at Duna Arena, Atkinson's London Roar made their path to the final safe with a tally of 517.5 points to finish behind the France-based defending champions Energy Standard (580 points), who also remain on course to retain the title.
The other teams — Tokyo Frog Kings (380 points) and NY Breakers (239 points) — both missed out on a spot in the final and will have to reset and try again next year.
Fresh from her record 57.13 clocking in the 100m butterfly and another sub-30 clocking in the 50m breaststroke, Atkinson returned to the pool fully focused on the 100m breaststroke with one goal in her mind — secure as many points as possible.
But in a scintillating display of technical efficiency, the four-time Olympian, whose reaction time was clocked at 0.64, recorded the fastest time of the season.
Atkinson simply owned the race from start to finish, clocking 29.62 at the halfway mark, before pulling away to close the second 50m in 33.04. Her 1:02.66 is the only sub-1:03 time of the season and is quicker than American Lilly King's 1:03.16, the previous season's best posted by the Cali Condors representative.
Heading into yesterday's race, the 31-year-old Atkinson's best time of the season was 1:03.53, but the 1:02.66, which is just shy of the world record, was another indication of her grit and determination. She was also well rewarded in the points department, securing 15 valuable points.
Young Benedetta Pilato of Energy Standard was second in a new Italian record 1:03.55, with Emily Escobedo (1:04.31) of NY Breakers taking the other podium position.
With 27.5 points to her name, Atkinson ended in 15th position on the Match Most Valuable Player (MVP) standings. That saw her jumping into 19th position on the season's MVP list on 146.5 points, with the finals still to come.
Meanwhile, the undefeated Cali Condors were locked in battle against ISL newbies Toronto Titans, hometown heroes Team Iron and the ever-threatening LA Current in the second semi-final which ends today.
Over 300 of the world's best swimmers from over 50 countries formed the 10 teams that are competing for over US$6 million in prize money during the condensed, five-week event.
The top-two teams from each semi-final will battle it out in the final scheduled for November 21 and 22.
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