Coleman Breaks Swedish Record, Sjostrom, Seeliger Post Possible Olympic Pacers


Several major storylines for Sweden came together on Saturday on day 2 of the Sette Colli Trophy event in Rome, Italy, with serious implications for the country’s Olympic relay and individual event future.

Michelle Coleman Breaks Swedish Record in 100 Back

27-year old Michelle Coleman has brought some strength to what was the weakest leg of Sweden’s women’s 400 medley relay for years by breaking the Swedish Record in the 100 back in 59.62.

That cuts more than three-tenths of a second off the old National Record of 59.98 that was done in 2015 at a World Cup meet in Eindhoven by Sarah Sjostrom.

Splits Comparison:

Michelle Coleman Sarah Sjostrom
2021 – New Record
2015 – Old Record
50m 28.78 29.28
100m 30.84 30.7
Total Time 59.62 59.98

While Sjostrom’s elbow injury (more on her later) has taken some of the buzz off Sweden’s medal chances in this relay, consecutive best times for Coleman in this event does leave them with some glimmer of hope now.

Her best time coming into the year was a 1:00.28 from 2017. At the European Championships in May, she swam 1:00.00, and now she has broken a minute for the first time in her career. At the 2019 World Championships, Coleman swam just a 1:01.42 – which was the slowest leadoff split in the final by more than half-a-second, and one of only two backstrokers to not break a minute. Had she been 59.6 on that leadoff leg, Sweden would have touched in around a 3:56.5, which would have put them very close to Italy for 4th place.

There is still a 3 second gap, then, to Canada, but with improvements by both breaststroker Sophie Hansson (1:05.69 in May) and her sister, butterflier Louise Hansson (56.73 in May), that gap shrinks even more. Those improvements would account for a two-second drop versus the 2019 World Championships, even without any benefit of rolling relay starts.

That gets the Swedes within range of a 400 medley relay medal, though it’s still an uphill climb. Sjostrom didn’t have her best split on the World Championship medley relay anchor (only 52.54), so it’s conceivable that coming out of the injury, she could get back there still.

Sjostrom Swims 57.6 in 100 Meter Fly

Speaking of Sjostrom, she swam a 57.6 in the 100 meter fly, from a flat-start, on Saturday. She told SwimSwam on Friday, after winning the 50 fly, that if she swam a 57-low she would consider swimming the event at the Olympics, but that if she was more like a 59, she wouldn’t.

So the 57.6 leaves her, at least, with a decision to make. Sjostrom has said throughout her comeback that freestyle has been easier to return to than butterfly because of the imbalance in her stroke caused by her healthy arm being stronger than her unhealthy arm.

Sjostrom’s full results from this weekend, so far:

  • 100 free – 53.47
  • 50 fly – 25.42
  • 100 fly – 57.65

She is still scheduled to swim the 50 free on Sunday.

Bjorn Seeliger Hits a FINA “A” Cut in the 50 Free

Bjorn Seeliger, the tall Swede who has been training in the United States at Cal, swam a 21.71 on the split of his 100 free en route to a 1:02.48 overall. Racing for a split time, he undercut his previous best time of 22.06 that was done on Friday in the individual 50 free.

That split moves Seeliger well under the Olympic “A” standard of 22.01 and into the top 10 swimmers in the world.

Now it will be up to the Swedish Federation to nominate him for the Olympic Team and for the Swedish Olympic Committee to accept him. The Olympic qualifying period concludes on Sunday. Sweden had set their selection standard at 21.78.

Alshammar Falls Short in Olympic Comeback Attempt

The longshot attempt by 43-year old Therese Alshammar to qualify for the Swedish Olympic Team has likely fallen short. She swam a 57.99 in the 100 free on Saturday. While that time is well under Erika Braun’s FINA Masters World Record of 58.04 for the 40-44 age group, it’s likely not enough to put her on the Swedish Olympic Team.

A 25.52 in the 50 free two weeks ago gives her an outside shot of qualifying for Tokyo there, but it would take a new gear for her to get under the Olympic “A” standard of 24.77 and join Sjostrom in that event.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Power 5 swimmer
2 months ago

Happy for Sarah

Erik Andersson
2 months ago

Love to see what college swimming in Usa does to Swedish swimmers now Seeliger and the Hansson sisters. In the past a lot of swedish Olympic swimmers has swum in the NCAA.

Jay Ryan
Reply to  Erik Andersson
2 months ago

Gunnar Larson (UCLA), Bengt Baron (Cal), Pelle Holmertz (Cal), Lars Foelander (SMU), Par Arvidsson (Cal), Therese Alshammar (Nebraska) to name a few off the top of my head

2 months ago

Bjorn Seeliger was also under the selection time set for Swedish swimmers at 21.78

2 months ago

Well under???

Reply to  Erik
2 months ago

Thought the same, I think they mean well under FINA A cut, but just under Swedish cut

Eddie the Ale
2 months ago

Regarding the 4 x 100 medley relay, I found a good list of the currently fastest teams based on performances this season:

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

Read More »