Atkinson wins 3 of 4 events, but London Roar denied second-straight winTuesday, September 21, 2021
BY SHERDON COWAN
Jamaica's champion swimmer Alia Atkinson was back at the top of the podium in her favourite breaststroke events and also had a hand in London Roar's relay win in match eight of the third International Swimming League (ISL) in Naples, Italy, on Sunday.
Atkinson's performances followed a back-breaking task in match six, where she swam five events to lead her team to their first victory of the season.
However, despite her exploits on this occasion, where she earned 33 points in the 50-metre and 100-metre breaststroke and contributed to 38 relay points via the women's 4x100m medley and the mixed medley relays — earning 'jackpot times' in two of the four events – London Roar failed to deny 2019 champions Energy Standard a third-straight win in as many matches.
The France-based Energy Standard, who led after Saturday's first day of action, held firm to take the match with 507 points at Piscina Felice Scandone. London Roar was second with 486.5 points, while LA Current (395.5 points) and Tokyo Frog Kings (379 points) were at the tail-end of the four-team match.
With the introduction of jackpot times, which allow teams to steal points for winning a race by a wide margin, one could almost guarantee that Atkinson would be among those that relished the new feature, particularly in the sprints.
By virtue of beating other competitors in their event by a certain time, the winner steals the loser's points.
And that Atkinson did in the 50m breaststroke. She clocked 29.47 seconds in victory to steal points from five of her seven competitors, to earn a whopping 24 points for her club. Energy Standard's Benedetta Pilato (29.51secs) and Miranda Tucker (30.08secs) of Tokyo Frog Kings were the only other two competitors to score in the event.
That win was Atkinson's seventh in the event for which she is the world short course record holder at 28.56 seconds.
The five-time Olympian then joined forces with Kira Toussaint, Emma McKeon and Marie Wattel in the 4x100m medley relay, to earn another 24 points for the Steven Tigg-coached London Roar.
Atkinson swam a blistering breaststroke leg of 1:03.81 minutes to put her team ahead, and they held on to win in 3:48.04 minutes, a mere one-hundredth of a second ahead of LA Current in (3:48.05), with Energy Standard (3:49.30) in third.
The 32-year-old Jamaican returned on Sunday to extend her rich vein of form with victory in the 100m breaststroke in 1:03.93 minutes, one of her fastest times this season.
Atkinson, who also holds the world short course record in this event, exploited her superior speed and annihilated the field, as she was the only swimmer under the 1:04-minute barrier. Kanako Watanabe (1:04.70) of Tokyo Frog Kings was second, with Atkinson's teammate Annie Lazor finishing third in 1:05.11.
With three wins already under her belt for the match, Atkinson took the deck to swim another leg on the mixed medley relay team, alongside Brazilian Guilherme Guido, Emma McKeon and Kyle Chalmers.
But despite clocking 29.59secs at the halfway mark to finish her leg in 1:03.09, Atkinson's hopes of making it a perfect four wins in four events did not materialise, as they had to settle for second position in 3:34.53 minutes.
Energy Standard's team of Evgeny Rylov, Ilya Shymanovich, Anastasia Shkurdai and Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom annihilated the league record by nearly two seconds in 3:31.96 minutes and picked up 38 points. The previous record was 3:33.81 minutes set by LA Current earlier this season.
London Roar and Energy Standard will again meet on the weekend for match nine, which also includes Toronto Titans and DC Trident.
Defending champions Cali Condors continue to lead the 10-team standings on 15 points from four matches, three points ahead of Energy Standard on 12 points from three matches.
LA Current, who have also completed four matches, are third on 11 points, with London Roar and Toronto Titans both on 10 points each after three matches, respectively.
Aqua Centurions (six points), Team Iron (five points), DC Trident (four points), Tokyo Frog Kings (four points) and NY Breakers (three points), complete the table.