Alia Atkinson Becomes 1st Black Woman to Win World Title in Swimming

The Jamaican swimmer made history with a world record time in the women’s 100 breaststroke.

Alia Atkinson of Jamaica poses with her gold medal after winning the women’s 100 breaststroke during the 12th FINA World Swimming Championships in Doha, Qatar, on Dec. 6, 2014. 
Alia Atkinson of Jamaica poses with her gold medal after winning the women’s 100 breaststroke during the 12th FINA World Swimming Championships in Doha, Qatar, on Dec. 6, 2014.  KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images

Alia Atkinson made swimming history on Saturday by becoming the first black woman to win a world swimming title: the women’s 100 breaststroke at the world short-course championships in Doha, Qatar.

Atkinson, who swims for Jamaica, tied the world record with a time of 1 minute, 2.36 seconds, which, according to the standards of the international swimming governing body FINA, counts as its own record. Even Atkinson was surprised at her win.

“I couldn’t believe it. It came down to the same thing as the 50, and on the 50 I got out-touched, so in my mind I went straight back to that,” Atkinson told Agence France-Presse after the race. “I just thought, ‘Oh, OK’ and looked up at the board, and it didn’t really click yet and then it really started to click. It took a while.”

The win was also Jamaica’s first gold in world swimming championships.

Atkinson hopes her win will inspire other women in the Caribbean to take up swimming as a sport. “Hopefully my face will come out, there will be more popularity, especially in Jamaica and the Caribbean, and we’ll see more of a rise, and hopefully in the future we will see a push,” she said, The Telegraph reported.

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