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Jamaican swimmer Alia Atkinson excited to be taking part in Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games

Jamaican swimmer Alia Atkinson excited to be taking part in Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games

Posted by PanamericanWorld on June 02, 2015

Jamaican swimmer Alia Atkinson, a three-time Olympian, is excited about competing in the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games in July.

“The Pan Ams will be a fun meet,” she said at a teleconference on Tuesday, May 26. “I feel somewhat safe. I’ll get to battle some of the fastest swimmers. It’s a fun meet to be at.”

Atkinson competed in the Olympics in Greece in 2004, in China in 2008 and England in 2012 with her best finish being fourth in womnen’s 100 metre breaststroke in 2012.

In 2014 she won the 100-metre breaststroke at the Short Course World Championships in Doha, tying the world record. The win made her the first ever black woman to hold a world title in swimming. She was also awarded Sportswoman of the Year in Jamaica in 2014.

She said she will feel an added boost competing at the Toronto Games.

“It will be a homey-feeling,” she said. “Everybody loves Canada. I will look up in the crowd and see lots of Jamaican flags.”

Her family will also be flying in from Jamaica to cheer her on.

“Although I don’t have any family in Toronto, I get a lot of support from Canada,” she said. “It’s a cool to race against people I’ve been racing against since I was 12.”

Atkinson swam in Jamaica until she was nine. At 10 she joined the Fort Lauderdale Swim Club and moved to the Comets Swim Club in Pembroke Pines, Florida at the age of 13 and continues to train and live there.

She said the interest in competitive swimming is slowly growing in Jamaica.

Atkinson does her part by writing and promoting children’s learn-to-swim picture books. She is also a water-safety advocate and a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority. She is also special manager at the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) in Fort Lauderdale.

“I like the daily interaction with the public,” she said. “I will go to swim meets and when I see youth swimming, I want to reach out to them. It’s essential to teach the sport to the younger ones.”

Although Jamaica is known for track and field, Atkinson said swimming is still in the development stages.

“We (Jamaica) should do pretty well in track and field (at the Pan Am Games), but I think we’ll do well in the pool too,” she said. “We have a good team. We should come out very well.”

She said she’s not going to let the competition make her nervous when it comes to competing at the Pan Am Games.

“I prefer not to look at the roster,” she said.

She relies on her experience in the pool. She said when she reflects back on her swimming career she’s only gotten better and has reached goals she has never reached before.

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