Jamaican Swimmer Alia Atkinson Makes History

Alia Atkinson, swimming

Jamaican Swimmer Alia Atkinson Makes History

Becomes first Black woman to win world swimming title.

Published December 9, 2014

Anyone tuned in to the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) World Swimming Championships on Saturday witnessed history.

That's because Jamaica's Alia Atkinson became the first Black woman to win a world swimming title by posting a 1:02:36 clock-in time in the 100m breaststroke in the Middle Eastern nation of Qatar, edging Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte (of Lithuania) by 0.10 of a second. Upon learning that she had clinched the world title, a shocked look covered Atkinson's face. 

"I realized I was catching up so I was just trying to get a good finish," Atkinson, 25, added in telling the official FINA website. "I'm not used to seeing my name up in number one so it was kind of a shock, but a good one!"

In addition to becoming the first Black woman to capture a swimming world record, Atkinson's win gives Jamaica its first gold medal at the World Short Course Championships. With the victory, Atkinson, who finished fourth in the 100m breaststroke in the London Olympics, hopes to inspire more Jamaican and Caribbean swimmers to follow in her footsteps.

"Hopefully there will be more popularity, especially in Jamaica and the Caribbean," Atkinson told the BBC, "and we'll see more of a rise and hopefully in the future we will see a push." 

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(Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Written by BET-Staff


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