2021 Swammy Awards: European Female Swimmer of the Year, Sarah Sjostrom

To see all of our 2021 Swammy Awards, click here.

2021 EUROPEAN FEMALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR: SARAH SJOSTROM, SWEDEN

2017 and 2018 recipient of this award Sarah Sjostrom had yet another standout year and is the recipient of the 2021 European Swimmer of the Year. Sjostrom got off to a rocky start in 2021 when she broke her elbow in early February. With only months to go until the Tokyo Olympics, the poorly timed break put her Olympic hopes into jeopardy.

She didn’t race for a few months after the injury, sitting out of the 2021 European Swimming Championships. She made her return to the pool, however, in order to make the trip to Tokyo. Sjostrom entered in three individual events in Tokyo; the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, and 100 butterfly. At the last edition of the Games 5 years earlier Sjostrom picked up three Olympic medals when she placed first in the 100 fly, second in the 200 freestyle and third in the 100 freestyle.

In Tokyo, Sjostrom was solid in all three prelims and placed 3rd, 4th, and 5th in the 100 fly, 50 free, and 100 free, respectively. She advanced to the semi-finals and seemed like she could be vying for a medal in all three events.

She qualified for the final in all 3 events as well, but ultimately only landed on 1 podium when she took silver to Emma McKeon‘s victory in the 50 freestyle. She just missed the 100 freestyle with a 52.68 for 5th and wound up in 7th place in the 100 fly. Sjostrom’s 3-final performance in Tokyo was a little short of what she did in Rio in 2016 but was still the strongest overall performance by any European woman at the meet.

Sjostrom continued to race in the fall of 2021 and returned for a third season with the International Swimming League’s Energy Standard. She was once again dominant in a wide variety of events and was a major player towards her team’s ultimate season win. Sjostrom won the 50 freestyle 7 times, the 50 butterfly 7 times, the 100 butterfly once, the 100 IM twice, and the 50-meter skins race three times throughout the season.

She won the MVP title at Match 1, Play-off 3, and during the final match of the season. Additionally, she finished the season as the highest-ranked swimmer in MVP points with 511.5. She became the first ISL athlete to clear 1,000 MVP points in her career. Sjostrom was the highest earner during the ISL season, raking in an estimated $269,125.

In addition to ISL racing, Sjostrom competed at both the 2021 European Short Course Swimming Championships. and the 2021 World Short Course Swimming Championships. She collected a total of 13 medals across those 2 meets, including 5 individual golds.

Sarah Sjostrom Major International Medals – Fall 2021

European Championships

  • Gold – 50 freestyle CR
  • Gold – 100 freestyle
  • Gold – 50 butterfly CR
  • Gold – 100 butterfly
  • Silver – 4×50 medley relay
  • Bronze – 100 IM

World Championships

  • Gold – 50 freestyle CR
  • Gold – 4×50 medley WR
  • Gold – 4×100 medley ER
  • Silver – 100 freestyle
  • Silver – 50 butterfly
  • Silver – 4×50 freestyle NR
  • Bronze – 4×100 freestyle

HONORABLE MENTIONS

  • Pernille Blume (DEN), Simona Quadarella (ITA) & Sarah Kohler (GER): This trio of freestylers make up the only European women other than Sjostrom who earned an individual medal at the Tokyo Olympics. 2016 50 freestyle champion Pernille Blume returned to the podium with a 24.21 this year, following Emma McKeon‘s winning 23.81 and Sjotrom’s 24.07. Quadarella’s bronze medal came in the 800 freestyle when she swam an 8:18.35 for third place, which was just a few seconds off her PB and Italian record of 8:14.99 from 2019. In the first-ever 1500 freestyle, Sarah Kohler took bronze behind the American duo of Katie Ledecky (15:37.34) and Erica Sullivan (15:41.41) with a 15:42.91. That swim marked a new German record for Kohler.
  • Louise Hansson (SWE): Sweden’s Louise Hansson took part in one of the most competitive races of the Tokyo Games when she raced in the women’s 100 butterfly final. Hansson swam a 56.22 for 5th place overall, which was just 0.50 seconds slower than bronze medalist Emma McKeon. She was only 0.63 slower than Olympic Champion Maggie MacNeil. Hansson continued her speed into the fall and picked up several ISL event wins for the Toronto Titans, becoming one of their key players in 2021. In addition to her butterfly prowess, Hansson had a backstroke breakout in 2021 and broke both the 50 and 100 backstroke short course Swedish records. Hansson closed out 2021 with a 7-medal haul at Short Course Worlds, including individual gold in the 100 backstroke. She was also a part of the world record-tying 4×50 medley relay in which she, Sophie Hansson, Sarah Sjostrom, and Michelle Coleman swam a 1:42.38 for gold.

PAST WINNERS

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Klorn8d
6 months ago

Curious what people think would happen in a scored meet between the US v. Mainland Europe v. Asia v. The commonwealth. Probably depends on how many people you enter in each event. I think the US women and European men would win but very unsure of that. Like I said probably depends if you only go like 2 deep vs. 4 deep in each event. Us and Europe would thrive with more depth

Stewart 100 back gold in Fukuoka
Reply to  Klorn8d
6 months ago

If you take Britain out of Europe, then it might be Americans winning on the men’s side. I would love to see a North America v. Europe v. Combined team of Asia and Oceania. I think it will make it more even among teams.

Stewart 100 back gold in Fukuoka
Reply to  Stewart 100 back gold in Fukuoka
6 months ago

And just imagine a Russian backstroker replacing Luke Greenbank in the British men’s medley relay lol.

Bobby
Reply to  Klorn8d
6 months ago

I think the commonwealth teams will be much better than you’re imagining. On both sides. Canadian/Australian women. GBR/Australian men. At two deep I’m not sure the US wins that women’s competition. I think it would be interesting. I think commonwealth wouldn’t win men’s though.

Rafael
Reply to  Ben Dornan
6 months ago

But imagine rylov peaty milak and miressi on a relay

McKeown-Hodges-McKeon-Campbell
Reply to  Rafael
6 months ago

but gb is in the commonwealth – leaving martinenghi as europe’s best breastroker

Rafael
Reply to  McKeown-Hodges-McKeon-Campbell
6 months ago

Kamminga

McKeown-Hodges-McKeon-Campbell
Reply to  Rafael
6 months ago

oversight on my part.

anyway, actually pretty even between europe and the us. back/free are on par would probably give a similar advantage to each team. of course if peaty replaced kamminga it would be europe no contest

Troyy
Reply to  McKeown-Hodges-McKeon-Campbell
6 months ago

Commonwealth would challenge for the win with Peaty too.

Big Mac #1
Reply to  Rafael
6 months ago

Rather Duncan on free

Big Mac #1
Reply to  Big Mac #1
6 months ago

Also imagine the perfect relay from active swimmers.
Murph 2016-51.85
Peaty 2021-56.53
Dressel 2021-49.03
Duncan 2019-46.14(or perhaps chalmers 2021 46.44)
That would be 3:23.55. Sometimes I wish fina would put on an exhibition event for the fastest in the world but the swimmers probably would not take it seriously

Dee
Reply to  Klorn8d
6 months ago

Commonwealth dominate the womens side imo. Mens probably the US if GBR are part of the Commonwealth team instead of Europe.

McKeown-Hodges-McKeon-Campbell
6 months ago

weakest performance for the european women in a long time. probably related to hosszu and sjostrom doing most of the heavy lifting in the last decade. hosszu’s a middle distance swimmer and her 30s, and sjostrom was injured last year. no young europeans have broken out enough to have success at that level yet, although there are a few good prospects.
its also the only olympics other than 1956 where a european team didn’t win a women’s relay medal (the dutch were 4th in the 1976 freestyle relay so this still holds up if you exclude ddr)

still, very resilient for sjostrom to do seasons bests for all her events in tokyo, and win a 50 free silver after… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by McKeown-Hodges-McKeon-Campbell
Rafael
Reply to  McKeown-Hodges-McKeon-Campbell
6 months ago

Quadrarella was the main threat to ledecky 800/1500 but she got sick before OG

Last edited 6 months ago by Rafael
torchbearer
6 months ago

Was a really weak Olympics for the European women….or perhaps AUS and the US were just too strong……..

Rafael
6 months ago

Feel sorry for quadrarella getting sick weeks before OG. She could have put a major fight and maybe an upset on 800/1500

Last edited 6 months ago by Rafael