Bjorn Seeliger Qualifying For Tokyo 8 Days After His Father’s Death

The Swedish Swimming Federation has added another 2 swimmers to its Tokyo 2020 swimming roster in the form of Bjorn Seeliger and Sara Junevik. The addition brings the country’s roster up to 9 swimmers total.

Nominated Swedish Olympic Swimming Team so far:

Seeliger, who just finished his freshman year swimming for the University of California, Berkeley was named to the Olympic team to race the men’s 50 freestyle based on his results at the recent Settecolli Trophy. Seeliger swam a 22.06 in the final to tie Leonardo Deplano for 6th overall which is just over the 22.01 FINA A cut. Seeliger came back the next day, however, and threw down a 21.71 official split in the men’s 100 freestyle which got him under the FINA A cut and wound up earning him a spot on the Olympic squad.

Seeliger chatted with SwimSwam about his recent Olympic qualification and said that it “was very very emotional and [he] was very surprised with [his] swim.” Seeliger discussed the fact that his father died from cancer only 8 days before the race and that he had been out of the pool for a whole week before traveling to Settecolli. Seeliger made the decision to travel back to Rome “not to beat a time but swim for [his father].”

Seeliger also said that “things are moving very quickly and we are leaving on Monday already for Tokyo so there is not a lot of time to stop and breath. I’m very excited to race for him at the games and have received tremendous support from friends, family and the Cal Bear family.”

Seeliger has made an impact already at Cal and collected 2 NCAA titles at the 2021 Championships in the men’s 200 free relay and 400 free relays.

His 21.71 swim at Settecolli was his first time under 22 seconds in the event and wound up earning him a spot on the 2020 Olympic squad for Sweden. Seeliger had been just over the 22.01 qualifying standard a number of times this season prior to Settecolli 2021, having hit a 22.10 twice, a 22.15, a 22.20, a 22.30, and a 22.31 between May and June 2021.

Prior to the 2020-2021 season, Seeliger held a PB of 22.27 from the 2018 European Junior Swimming Championships which got him a gold medal. Seeliger also raced the 50 freestyle for Sweden at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires and placed 5th in the final with a 22.77.

Sara Junevik was the second addition to the Swedish Olympic squad but unlike Seeliger, won’t be expected to race individually at the Games. Junevik was named to round out the women’s 4×100 freestyle team and is expected to race the relay with Michelle Coleman, Louise Hansson, and Sarah Sjostrom. Meanwhile, Coleman and Sjostrom will be taking care of the women’s 100 freestyle individually.

Junevik, Coleman, and Hansson recently swam the 4×100 freestyle relay at the 2021 European Swimming Champions along with breaststroker Sophie Hansson. Sarah Sjostrom wasn’t present at 2021 Euros as she was still recovering from the elbow injury she sustained earlier this year. The Swedish squad pulled off a 3:38.72 5th place finish at Euros without world record holder Sjostrom and will likely be able to improve upon that time in Tokyo.

Junevik’s PB in the individual 100 freestyle is a 55.99 from the Stockholm Swim Open in April 2021 but she was a bit faster than that on the European Championships relay where she hit a 55.67. Junevik recently raced the 100 freestyle at the 2021 Settecolli Trophy where she swam a 56.67 for 29th overall.

While Sarah Sjostrom has led the world rankings over the past decade in the sprint freestyles, the nation hasn’t made it onto the women’s 4×100 freestyle podium since the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. There, Louise Jöhncke (55.93), Therese Alshammar (53.78), Johanna Sjöberg (55.06), Anna-Karin Kammerling (55.53) delivered a 3:40.30 for bronze to join the United States (3:36.61) and the Netherlands (3:39.83) on the podium.

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Coach Mike 1952
6 months ago

Both heartfelt condolences & congratulations Bjorn. Crush it for your dad in Tokyo.

6 months ago

Bittersweet time for him. I’m sure his dad was watching that swim from above.

6 months ago

Kaylee McKeown’s dad died recently too (he would have been able to see her at the Olympics if it wasn’t postponed a year). I’ve heard of a few other swimmers, including Matt Wilson, who’ve had family deaths recently.

Props to them for being able to still compete at elite level under such awful circumstances. Inspiring.

6 months ago

I know how this feels to lose a father at a young age, Bjorn you and your family are in my prayers. Swim fast in Tokyo, I know your dad will be watching from above.

6 months ago

wait did he go a 21.7 for the first 50 of a 100?

David Q
Reply to  dddddddd
6 months ago

Yeah, with a hand touch, though. As far as I know, only Morozov has split under 22 with a foot touch (World Championships in 2013).

David Q
6 months ago

Sara Junevik also swam a 54.30 in the final of the 400 medley relay at European Championships.