Swimmer Atkinson takes pleasure in giving back with Watabound
Retired Olympic swimmer Alia Atkinson poses with some of the young swimmers that turned out for her Watabound swim clinic at Campion College last weekend. (Photo: Dwayne Richards)

Alia Atkinson returned to the island last weekend for the first time since she announced her retirement from competitive swimming to host her swim clinic called Watabound at her alma mater Campion College.

Twenty swimmers turned up for the clinic which focused around four main areas — goal assessment, technique analysis, rest and recovery and core work.

Atkinson began the Watabound clinics while she was still competing, but now that she has hung up her wet suit, she is fully committed to giving back to the sport she loves by way of teaching and empowering young swimmers, not just in Jamaica but across the Caribbean.

"I started it [swimming clinic] a little bit before I retired, but it's fully engaged now. Basically, it's trying to create the entire athlete. Challenge them mentally, fuel them athletically, revitalise their soul and help them to realise what it means to be an athlete and what it means to be a swimmer," she explained last Saturday.

Several young swimmers turned up for the session at Campion and their desire to learn pleased Atkinson.

"I see the excitement in them to come out and represent Jamaica and get back travelling on the international scene, so it was really exciting to come back and help them with that progression coming into February," she said.

Atkinson explained that the three-hour session was focused on helping the swimmers to become more efficient in the pool.

"We really have them thinking about, not just the stroke and not just who they are but how they can better efficiently use what they have. They have different capabilities, different bodies, different endurance levels. We want to see how we can bring out the best athlete and the best person."

The many-times Jamaican Olympian believes that her departure from the international scene will not negatively affect the country's representation at the highest level of the sport as long as the swimmers are given the necessary support.

"Jamaica has a lot of talent. The Caribbean has a lot of talent. I think we are definitely taking the right steps. I think we need to do a lot more to help facilitate athletes coming up in the younger group.

"It starts with the youth. Helping them see a projected plan in the next four years, giving them some sort of finances to help them during the rough times when they can't [afford to] go to competitions, when they can't afford a suit, but Jamaica has a lot of talent, and we always have.

"So, it's basically how we bring out the best athletes, maintain them throughout the hard parts so we can see success later on."

The date for the next Watabound clinic has not yet been set.

— Dwayne Richards

Dwayne Richards

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