Alia Atkinson wins a new world record and a first for a black woman

Bim Adewunmi: The Jamaican 100m breaststroke swimmer has double cause to celebrate after her record-breaking win at the Fina World Swimming championships

A big congratulations to Jamaican swimmer Alia Atkinson, who isa new 100m breaststroke champion. Atkinson completed the race in 1minute and 2.36 seconds at the Fina World Swimming championships in Doha at the weekend, equalling the record set by Lithuanian swimmer Rta Meilutyt. Atkinson is the first ever black woman to win a world swimming title.

Atkinson, who mostly trains in Florida,where she also works with theInternational Swimming Hall of Fame to promote swimming toyoungsters from different communities, looked overwhelmed byher win on Saturday.

According to a 2010 survey byUSA Swimming, 69% of African American children have low or no swimming ability. The stereotype of black people refusing to learn how to swim is a stubborn one to shake, but with Atkinsons win and others such as Justin Lynch (an 18-year-old California swimmer who broke Michael Phelpss 2001 national age-group record last year) perhaps it is beingeroded.

After her win, Atkinson told AFP: Hopefully, my face willcome out, there willbemore popularity, especially in Jamaica and theCaribbean, and well seemore of a rise.

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