The South American, Central American, and Caribbean region has seen an explosion of success on the women’s side of the pool since the 2012 Olympic Games, and with the area hosting the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, the region is peaking with perfect timing to capture local imaginations.
Editor’s Note: We have combined the Central American and South American awards for 2015, as we feel this gives more depth to the award.
2015 CAC & South American Female Swimmer of the Year – Alia Atkinson
Jamaican breaststroker Alia Atkinson has unified the region by repeating this Swammy award from 2014, where she won the honor for Central American and the Caribbean.
Atkinson’s stellar year cements her spot as a “favorite” for a medal in the 100 meter breaststroke at the 2016 Olympic Games, as compared to 2012 where she was a “surprise” to place 4th and just miss a historic medal for her country.
Atkinson took a silver medal in the 50 breaststroke and a bronze medal in the 100 breaststroke at the 2015 World Aquatics Championships in Kazan, Russia as the highlight of her season. Later in the season, in a special long course World Cup run, she also broke her own Jamaican National Record in the 100 LCM breaststroke with a 1:05.93, and now ranks as the 16th-fastest 100 breaststroker in history.
In total at the World Cup, Atkinson won 10 races – the 50 breaststroke at 6 out of 8 meets, and the 100 breaststroke at 4 out of 7 meets. That carried her to a 4th-place overall finish in the series and a total of $60,350 in earnings.
While Atkinson finished a disappointing 2nd in the 100 breaststroke at the 2015 Pan American Games, leaving her still without a gold medal at that meet in her career, she flexed her versatility to break Jamaican Records in the 100 free (56.29), and 50 back (29.94) at that meet. What Katinka Hosszu is to Hungary, Alia Atkinson is becoming for Jamaica in her dominance of the country’s National Record books.
For Atkinson, trained in the United States at the South Florida Aquatic Club, 2015 didn’t include any global golds like the historic one she won in short course meters in 2014, but overall it was a more positive building block toward the big prize: Rio.
Etiene Medeiros – The defending South American Female Swimmer of the Year Swammy Award winner earned silver at the 2015 World Championships int he 50 backstroke, a non-Olympic event. But in the 100 backstroke, she finished 9th to just miss earning a spot in the final. Medeiros supplemented her resume with 4 Pan American Games medals (including gold in the 100 back in 59.61 – better than she was at Worlds and a new South American Record). After a pretty good meet at Pan Ams, most of Brazil’s women faltered in Kazan – Medeiros’ 50 back was the only finals swim.
- Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace, Bahamas – Bahamian swimmer AVW, also trained in the United States, won the Pan Ams gold in the 100 free and added to it a bronze in the 100 free. She also made a pair of finals at the World Championships after dropping the 100 free and placed 6th in the 50 free and 7th in the 50 fly.