Alia continues fine form, as London Roar secures ISL play-off spotMonday, September 27, 2021
BY SHERDON COWAN
Jamaica's Alia Atkinson produced another tidy display, copping another hat-trick of wins in Match Nine to end the regular season of the third International Swimming League (ISL) on a high, though her London Roar team once again came up short to Energy Standard at the end.
Atkinson, finished tops in the 50-metre and 100-metre breaststrokes, and also had a hand in the women's 4x100m medley relay win, earning jackpot points in all three events, at Piscina Felice Scandone in Naples, Italy, on Friday.
She was also a member of the mixed 4x100m medley relay team that placed second.
Despite the efforts of the South Florida (SOFLO) Aquatic Club stalwart, London Roar again had to settle for second position on 457.5 points, behind France-based Energy Standard, who once again led from the start, to end the two-day match with 568 points. Toronto Titans (380.5 points) and DC Trident (357 points) were the other two teams involved.
With this their second-consecutive victory over London Roar, Energy Standard, the 2019 champions, ended the regular season undefeated.
They lead London Roar, Toronto Titans, LA Current and defending champions Cali Condors as automatic qualifiers for the eight-team play-offs scheduled for November 11-12 in Eindhoven, Netherlands.
Atkinson again demonstrated her class in the 50m breaststroke, as she turned back the challenges of several national breaststroke champions to register her eighth career win in the event and picked up 19 points for her team.
The world short-course record holder at 28.56 seconds executed a quick under water pull-out and was even better off the turn, opening up a gap on the field and from there it became a mere formality. She was the only swimmer under the 30-second barrier at 29.48 seconds, stealing points from four of her competitors via the jackpot time rule.
Benedetta Pilato (30.13secs) of Energy Standard was second, with Dominika Sztandera (30.31secs) of Toronto Titans, third.
The 32-year-old Atkinson then linked up with Kira Toussaint, Emma McKeon and Freya Anderson to form a formidable quartet that once again left the field in their wake in the women's 4x100m medley relay.
Atkinson dominated the field on the breaststroke leg with a 1:04.03 clocking that pushed her team to victory in 3:48.58 minutes, snaring 20 points after jackpotting Toronto Titans' B team.
Energy Standard (3:48.96) and Toronto Titans A team (3:49.34) were second and third, respectively. London Roar's B team was sixth, earning the club an additional six points to bring the curtains down on Thursday's first day.
The five-time Jamaican Olympian followed up her day one performance with a post-to-post victory in the 100m breaststroke in 1:04.09 minutes, earning another 15 points in her team's regular season finale. It was also her eighth win in the event.
Energy Standard's Evgenia Chikunova (1:04.82) was second, with Atkinson's Roar teammate Annie Lazor (1:05.66) in third. Atkinson jackpotted the sixth, seventh and eighth-placed finishers in the event.
After missing a sweep off all four events in the previous match, Atkinson and her teammates Luke Greenbank, Emma McKeon and Kyle Chambers, would have been hoping to make amends in the mixed 4x100m medley relay on this occasion. However, they again had to settle for second in 3:36.34 minutes.
The Roar ended the regular season in third position on the 10-team table on 13 points from four matches. Energy Standard topped the standings with a perfect 16 points from four matches, while Cali Condors (15 points) ended second. Toronto Titans (12 points) and LA Current (11 points) ended fourth and fifth, respectively.
Meanwhile, the toss up continues between Aqua Centurions (six points), Team Iron (five points), DC Tridents (five points), Tokyo Frog Kings (four points) and NY Breakers (three points) for the next two spots to the play-off.
This third season of the ISL takes place in three phases. Naples is serving as host for the first phase, also known as the Regular Season, which saw the 10 clubs competing over a six-week period in a 'bubble' setting of sorts, similar to what transpired last year in Budapest.
Once the regular season concludes, the league will take a break before resuming with play-off action in Eindhoven in November, when the top eight clubs will compete for a spot in the ISL final.
The ISL Grand Finale is set to take place at the end of December.