Jamaican Swimmer Alia Atkinson Becomes First Black Woman to Win World Swimming Title

Francois Nel/Getty Images

Atkinson made swimming history on Saturday at the FINA World Swimming Championship in Qatar.

Taylor Lewis Dec, 08, 2014

In a victory heard ’round the world, Jamaican swimmer Alia Atkinson made history on Saturday when she became the first Black woman to win a world championship in swimming.

The 25-year-old clenched the title when she swam a record-breaking 1 minute, 2.36 second 100m breast stroke. She nudged by 17-year-old Lithuanian Olympic champ Ruta Meilutyte, making history. Atkinson’s victory comes nearly 40 years after Enith Brigitha, the first Black woman to hold a swimming record.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Atkinson said following the victory. “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 swimmer took to Instagram to celebrate her gold.

“This is more than about me,” she wrote on Saturday. “A country…a nation, a race. First Jamaican swimmer, First female swimmer from the caribbean, and I believe first black female swimmer in over 40yrs. This is not just mine.”

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