2019 CENTRAL AMERICAN & CARIBBEAN FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: ALIA ATKINSON, JAMAICA
For the 5th time in the 6-year history of the award, Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson was named the 2019 Swammy Awards Central American & Caribbean Female Athlete of the Year.
It was another big year for Atkinson in the pool. After missing the 2017 World Championships, Atkinson was the region’s highest-placing finisher at the 2019 World Championships, taking 4th in the 50 breaststroke in Gwangju. She also finished tied for 11th in the 100 breaststroke and 36th in the 50 fly at Worlds.
At the FINA Swimming World Cup Series, where the 31-year old has been a force for years, Atkinson won 5 individual races. In the International Swimming League, where she was the region’s only female swimmer on a team, she finished 59th in overall MVP scoring on the season racing for Iron – in spite of her team not qualifying for the finale and her thereby having 1 fewer meet to race in than many of her competitors. Excluding the finale, she ranked 29th.
While there continue to be some good developments in the region in women’s swimming, Atkinson continues to be the torchbearer for the Central American & Caribbean region.
- Miriam Sheehan, Puerto Rico – The 15-year old Sheehan grew up training with the Phoenix Swim Club in Arizona, where she set 7 American National Age Group Records. She has officially declared her sporting citizenship for Puerto Rico, however, and made a big splash for her native country this summer at the CCCAN Championship, the major regional championship in pre-Olympic years. She won 4 gold medals in the 13-14 age group at that meet, setting a pair of Meet Records. In fact, her 100 fly swim was faster than the open-age Meet Record of 1:01.44, even though she raced as a 13-14, as was her 27.59 in the 50 fly. 2019 saw her break Puerto Rican records in 9 different events, and she finished 5th in the 50 fly at the World Junior Championships. She might be the heir apparent to Atkinson’s throne.
- Krystal Lara, Dominican Republic – Lara won 6 golds at the CCANN Championships in the 18 & over age group, including 3 new Meet Records: 100 fly – 1:01.49, 100 back – 1:03.77, and 200 back – 2:16.06. She also represented her country at the World Championships, with a high finish of 34th place in the 100 fly.