The First Black Woman World Champion and it’s no surprise where she is from

Alia Atkinson made history in Doha this evening when she became the first black woman – and racer from Jamaica either gender – to win a world swimming title – and the moment came with a fourth line in the history books: in 1:02.36, she matched the world record of the woman she pipped, Ruta Meilutyte, Olympic and World l/c champion.

The first black woman ever to hold a world s/c record – in the days before FINA recognised standards in the little pool – was Enith Brigitha, of The Netherlands, 40 years ago. Brigitha, beaten by East Germans at major meets throughout her career, set the 100m freestyle standard three times in her career, overtaking Shane Gould‘s 58.1 from 1971 with a 57.04 in 1974. [I went swimming with Gould today – a thrilling experience on a day when Atkinson’s swim gave us reason to recall the world of water four decades ago]…

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