Jamaica’s Olympic swimmer Alia Atkinson, 29, broke her own world record in the women’s 50-meter breaststroke at the 2018 FINA World Cup in Budapest on October 6, 2018. Atkinson swam the distance in 28.56 seconds, outpacing her old record of 28.64 seconds, which she set in Tokyo on October 26, 2016. Atkinson’s time in Budapest upstaged her rival Yuliya Efimova of Russia, who took second place with 29.22 seconds. Atkinson also turned in the fastest time during the preliminaries earlier when she posted a time of 29.76 seconds. On October 5, 2018, just one day before her record-breaking swim, she turned in a big upset by outpacing Russia’s Efimova on her way to win the gold medal in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke in 1:02:80 seconds.
Atkinson competed in the 2004 Olympic Games in the 50-meter breaststroke and the 100-meter breaststroke. In the 2008 Olympics, she finished 25th in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke. Atkinson carried the flag for Jamaica at the opening ceremony of the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she also set the Jamaican record in the 100-meter butterfly. She took first place in the 200-yard breaststroke at the 2010 NCAA Championships when she competed for Texas A&M. She won the 100-meter breaststroke at the 2014 Short Course World Championships in Doha, becoming the first black woman to win a world swimming title. Atkinson won a silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in the 50-meter breaststroke and a bronze medal in the 100-meter breaststroke event. She set two Commonwealth Games records in the heats and semifinal of the 50-meter breaststroke as well. Atkinson reached the finals at the 2016 Olympic Games in the 100-meter breaststroke.
She has been coached by Chris Anderson since 2001 and trains chiefly at the South Florida Aquatic Club in Broward County, Florida.