The first black woman to win a world championship title in swimming will be honored with the Distinction in the Rank Commander on Jamaica’s National Heroes’ Day Oct. 15, 2018.
Jamaican Alia Atkinson, 39, won the 100-meter butterfly at the 2014 Short Course Championships in Doha, Qatar, becoming the first black woman to do so.
The Olympian said she was humbled to be receiving such an award.
She said swimming is blossoming once again in Jamaica and is looking forward to being a part of the wave of athletes that are paving a path for the Caribbean and swimmers of color.
Atkinson, who recently won three gold and two bronze medals at the Central American Games (CAC) in Barranquilla, Colombia, said she never believed that she would have achieved such a feat. She promised to work harder to lift the sport of swimming and live up to what it means to be awarded the Order of Distinction.
The Jamaican swimmer who mostly trains in Florida also works with the International Swimming Hall of Fame to promote swimming to youngsters from different communities.
In 2016 she broke the 50 short course meters breaststroke world record at the Tokyo stop of the FINA World Cup Tour. She clocked a 28.64, shaving 16 total hundredths off of the old mark of 28.80 set by Jessica Hardy in Berlin in 2009.