Two of the world’s fastest butterfliers ever will convene in Turkey next month as reigning world record holder Sarah Sjostrom and world junior record holder Rikako Ikee are set to train together in the city of Antalya.
Per Sports Hochi, the speedy pair will train together at Gloria Sports Arena, the home base of Energy Standard Swimming Club, of which Sjostrom is a member. Ikee is slated to visit approximately 10 days, although the schedule is fluid at this point. Ikee’s relatively new coach, Jiro Miki, reportedly has ties to Energy Standard coach James Gibson, from a previous stint in the UK, which is how this training trip came about.
Miki sees a golden opportunity to train with Olympic gold medalist Sjostrom, Ikee’s biggest butterfly rival at the moment, with the two maestros sitting 1 & 2 in the world rankings of both the women’s 100m and 50m fly events.
“To win the best player in the world, you have to know your opponent well,” Ikee says Coach Miki has conveyed to his 18-year-old protegé.
“I know her [Sjostrom’s] competitive strengths and weaknesses in the past two years, I know my strengths and weaknesses and I want to bridge the difference.”
While Sjostrom is kicking off her World Cup Series campaign in Kazan, Russia, Ikee is coming off one of the most impressive performances ever at an Asian Games. The teen captured 4 individual gold medals across the 50m/100m free and 50m/100m fly, along with 2 relay golds and 2 relay silvers in Jakarta. She was awarded MVP of the entire Asian Games, representing the first female to ever claim the honor.
Translation assistance provided by Rebecca Nishikawa- Roy.