2022 European Championships Previews: Sjostrom Looking for 5th Women’s 50 Fly Gold


Sprint superstar Sarah Sjostrom, the fastest women’s butterflier in history, is set to compete in her seventh LC European Championships starting this week.

One of the most decorated swimmers in history, Sjostrom has won 23 LC European Champs medals, 14 of which were gold. She’s also won 26 SC European Champs medals (12 gold), 20 LC World Champs medals (10 gold), 11 SC World Champs medals (6 gold), and 4 Olympic medals (1 gold). On top of that, Sjostrom currently holds world records in the long course 50 free, 100 free, 50 fly, and 100 fly.

For the second year in a row, Sjostrom will be forgoing the 100 fly at European Champs. Last year, Sjostrom missed the postponed 2020 European Championships as she was still recovering from a broken elbow she suffered early in the year.

We’ve seen Sjostrom, who turns 29 a week from today, seemingly pull back a bit on the LCM 100 fly. She swam the event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics last summer, where she advanced to finals with a 4th place finish in semifinals, but finished 7th in finals, well out of medal contention. She then skipped the 100 fly at the World Champs earlier this summer and isn’t entered in the event at these European Championships as well. It’s possible we’re seeing Sjostrom make the shift to the pure sprint events as she enters the latter stages of her career.

Europe is rather deep right now with women’s sprint butterfliers, though Sjostrom is still the class of the field. For example, at the 2022 World Champs in June, 9 of the 16 swimmers who made semifinals in the women’s 50 fly were representing European countries, and 4 of the 8 finalists were European as well.


  • World Record: 24.43 – Sarah Sjostrom, SWE (2014)
  • European Record: 24.43 – Sarah Sjostrom, SWE (2014)
  • European Championships Record: 24.87 – Sarah Sjostrom, SWE (2014)
  • 2020 European Champion: Ranomi Kromowidjoj0, NED – 25.30

The 50m fly is arguably Sarah Sjostrom‘s best event. Sjostrom is the only swimmer in history to crack 25 seconds in the women’s LCM 50 fly, and Sjostrom’s World Record sits way under that mark, at 24.43. Moreover, Sjostrom has been under 25 seconds 13 times in the event, and holds the 17 fastest performances of all-time.

Sjostrom enters this meet with a 24.95, a time which she swam at World Champs in June. Behind her is France’s Marie Wattel, who comes in at 25.56. Wattel has been just a touch faster in her career. Her personal best sits at 25.50, which she established at the 2019 World Champs in Gwangju. Her 25.56 seed time came from the 2022 World Champs in June.

The reigning European Champion, Ranomi Kromowidjojo, who won the European title in Sjostrom’s absence last year, has since retired. With Sjostrom sitting out of the meet last year, her streak of winning 4 consecutive LC European Champs gold medals in the 50 fly came to an end. Nonetheless, Sjostrom will be chasing a historic 5th gold medal in the same event at these Championships.

Greece’s Anna Ntountounaki comes in at 25.65. She’s had a great year so far, taking her personal best down from 25.93 to her 25.65, which she swam in May. Ntountounaki is the defending champion in the 100 fly, alongside Marie Wattel, and could be a threat for Silver here.

Dutchwoman Maaike de Waard, a highly versatile sprinter, comes in at #4 on the entry list. She swam her lifetime best of 25.75 at the World Championships in June, making her yet another swimmer with a lot of momentum in the event heading into this meet. Sweden’s Sara Junevik also swam her lifetime best of 25.80 at the World Championships this summer.

Netherlands’ Tessa Giele rounds out the swimmers seeded under 26 seconds at these Championships. Giele just broke 26 seconds for the first time in April, swimming a 25.96.

SwimSwam’s Predictions:

1 Sarah Sjostrom SWE 24.43 24.95
2 Marie Wattel FRA 25.50 25.56
3 Anna Ntountounaki GRE 25.65 25.65
4 Sara Junevik SWE 25.80 25.80
5 Maaike de Waard NED 25.75 25.75


World Record holder Sarah Sjostrom is notably out of this event at these Championships, leaving the door wide open for Marie Wattel or Anna Ntountounaki to repeat for gold. Last year, the duo tied for first in finals, swimming a 57.37. Despite tying with Ntountounaki last spring, Wattel should be seen as the favorite here. She was on fire at the World Championships in June, roaring to a new personal best of 56.14, which earned her the Silver medal. That puts her lifetime best now a full second faster than Ntountounaki’s (57.25).

Ntountounaki has only been 57.93 this summer, a time she swam in semifinals at the World Champs. She didn’t advance to finals with the performance. However, we don’t know how rested Ntountounaki was for Worlds, and we don’t know what form she’ll be in in Rome this week.

Sweden’s Louise Hansson is another swimmer who could very realistically grab gold here. Coming in as the #2 seed, Hansson has a lifetime best of 56.22, which she swam in the Olympic final last summer for 5th place. She was notably the top European performer in the event in Tokyo. Hansson was just off that time at the World Champs this summer, swimming a 56.48. She took 4th at Worlds with that performance.

Italy’s Elena Di Liddo is someone else we should all keep an eye out for. She’s seed 4th at 57.41, but Di Liddo’s personal best comes in at 57.04, a time she swam at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju. Di Liddo will probably need a lifetime best performance to have a shot at gold, but she’s certainly in medal contention as things stand now.

Bosnian 16-year-old Lana Pudar is a very interesting swimmer coming in to this meet. At just 16 years old, Pudar became Bosnia’s first World Championships finalist this summer, making the final of the women’s 100 fly. Pudar’s personal best of 57.37 was set last March. With Pudar being so young, it wouldn’t be terribly surprising to see her pop off a great swim here.

32-year-old Italian veteran Ilaria Bianchi comes in at 57.70. Bianchi’s lifetime best is from 2018, coming in t 57.22. She hasn’t been super far off that time recently, wither her 57.70 coming from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics last summer. On sort of the other end of the spectrum, Belgium’s Roos Vanotterdijk, just 17 years old, enters at 57.85. Her lifetime best was set just a month ago at Euro Juniors, where she upset Padar for gold.

SwimSwam’s Predictions:

1 Marie Wattel FRA 56.14 56.14
2 Louise Hansson SWE 56.22 56.48
3 Lana Pudar BIH 57.37 57.55
4 Elena Di Liddo ITA 57.04 57.41
5 Anna Ntountounaki GRE 57.25 57.93


  • World Record: 2:01.81 – Liu Zige, CHN (2009)
  • European Record: 2:04.27 – Katinka Hosszu, HUN (2009)
  • European Championships Record: 2:04.79 – Mireia Belmonte, ESP (2014)
  • 2020 European Champion: Boglarka Kapas, HUN – 2:06.50

Leading the women’s 200 fly psych sheet is Great Britain’s Laura Stephens, who comes in with an entry time of 2:07.04. Stephens, Lana Pudar, and Denmark’s Helena Bach are all entered at 2:07. Stephens’ personal best is her 2:07.04 and was set last summer. She’s been right on that time already this year, having swum a 2:07.12 at the Mare Nostrum Tour stop in Barcelona in May.

Pudar is entered at 2:07.58, a time which she swam in semifinals at the World Championships this summer. The performance qualified her for finals, where she would go on to swim a 2:07.85 for 6th. Bach also qualified for the final at Worlds in June, where she would finish 8th in 2:08.12. She swam her lifetime best of 2:07.82 in semifinals as well.

European Record holder Katinka Hosszu of Hungary is also entered in the event. Once one of the most dominant swimmers on the planet, the 33-year-old Hosszu’s career is now in its final stages. She hasn’t swum the 200 fly a ton of late, but her lifetime best of 2:04.27 does stand as the European Record.

However, it should also be noted that Hosszu’s European Record came at the 2009 World Championships, 13 years ago. Given the field at the se Championships, however, Hosszu has a real chance at not only medaling, but taking gold as well. She’s seeded at 2:08.14, a time which she swam last May, and has raced the event frequently this year, cracking 2:10 in April and placing 13th at Worlds in 2:10.64.

Zsuzsanna Jakabos, another 33-year-old out of Hungary, is the #5 seed, coming in at 2:08.88. That time was swum in May of this year and, like Hosszu, is well off her personal best. Jakabos’ lifetime best comes in at 2:06.35 and was swum at the 2011 World Championships.

Behind Jakabos is Italy’s Ilaria Cusinato, entered at 2:08.91. Her lifetime best of 2:08.78 was set in 2018. After Cusinato, there’s another Hungarian – Dalma Sebestyen. She enters the meet at 2:08.97, which also stands as her best time and was set in May.

SwimSwam’s Predictions:

1 Lana Pudar BIH 2:07.58 2:07.58
2 Laura Stephens GBR 2:07.04 2:07.12
3 Katinka Hosszu HUN 2:04.27 2:09.38
4 Helena Bach DEN 2:07.82 2:07.82
5 Zsuzsanna Jakabos HUN 2:06.35 2:08.88

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

1 Comment
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
7 months ago

Hosszu 3rd?