Alia Atkinson, Jamaica’s multi-medal-winning Olympic swim champion, won another gold on the first day of the 2021 Union Americana de Natación (UANA) Swimming Olympic Qualifier in Clermont, Florida, on April 29, 2021. Atkinson took home the gold medal in the 50-meter breaststroke competition at the Orlando Health National Training Center with a time of 31.69 seconds. This was the tenth consecutive win for the South Florida Aquatics swimmer in the United States. She has not lost a 50-meter breaststroke race in the US since May of 2016.
Atkinson also won a silver medal in Clermont, coming in second place in the women’s 50-meter butterfly to Athena Meneses Kovacs of Mexico. Atkinson swam the distance in 27.03 seconds, while Kovacs bested her to take the gold medal with a time of 27.01 seconds. Atkinson holds the national record for Jamaica in the event with 26.54 seconds, while Kovacs holds the record in Mexico with a time of 26.74. All of the swimmers winning medals at the UANA qualifiers had times under the World Championships B standard of 27.24 seconds.
Atkinson became the first Black woman to win a world swimming title when she took the gold medal in the 100-meter breaststroke event at the Short Course World Championships in Doha in 2014. She competed in the 50—meter freestyle and the 100-meter breaststroke at the 2004 Olympics, and at the 2008 Olympics came in 25th in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke. She qualified for the 2012 Olympics in the 100-meter breaststroke and placed fourth in the finals. In 2014, she won a silver in the 50-meter breaststroke and a bronze in the 100-meter breaststroke at the Commonwealth Games and set two Commonwealth Games records in the heats and the 50-meter breaststroke semi-final. She reached the final of the 100-meter breaststroke at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Chris Anderson has been Atkinson’s coach since 2001. The swimmer trains chiefly in the South Florida Aquatic Club swim team in Broward County, which is managed by Anderson.
The Union Americana de Natación (UANA) is an international organization that governs amateur aquatics in the Western Hemisphere. The 2021 Tokyo Olympics Qualifier at the Orlando Health National Center was sanctioned by FINA, the International Swimming Federation, the international entity recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the administrator of international water sports competitions. The event was hosted through a partnership with Azura Aquatics, Montverde Aquatic Club, Lake County, Orlando Health National Training Center and the Greater Orlando Sports Commission.
The event provided Olympic athletes and hopefuls with the chance to qualify for the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and for the 2021 Junior Pan American Games scheduled for Cali, Colombia, in September of 2021.