Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden fired the first warning shot in the semifinals of the 100 free, which vaulted her to fastest-in-the-world.
But remember, these are the Dutch women – bar-none the best sprint group in the world. They didn’t take kindly to an outsider coming in and swimming 53-lows on their turf (ok, I’m sure they’re all great friends, but still). Ranomi Kromowidjojo ripped that back with a 52.75 in the final, making her the first woman to ever crack 53 seconds in textile (officially*). That swim is also a new National Record by six-tenths.
Kromowidjojo now ranks as the third-fastest woman in this event ever, and cleared her old personal best of 53.30 set just a few weeks ago. After a few years of illness has derailed her trail, and only taking bronze in this race at Worlds, she now becomes the favorite in this race in London in a huge way.
*Libby Trickett swam a 52.99 in 2007 in textile leading off a relay, but it was in a special mixed-race event, and as she was racing Michael Phelps at the time, it was never approved.
Sjostrom, meanwhile, was the second-fastest in the final in 53.30, .01 away from her semis time.
But Marleen Veldhuis was the Dutch swimmer who appears to have clarified that even with Missy, Natalie, Dana, etc. on the American relay, they are still big favorites in this race. She took 2nd in 53.95 (including a 25.49 opening 50 – half-a-second better than the 25.93 that Kromowidjojo led off in).
That declares her as the second individual in this race for the Olympics, and sets up the Dutch relay: Kromowidjojo, Marleen Veldhuis, Femke Heemskerk, and Inge Dekker. Hinkelien Schreuder gets sweet redemption and holds on to the 5th spot with her 55.15 from the semis. But just by the skin-of-her-teeth, as Saskia de Jonge put up a 55.17 on Friday. One would presume that Schreuder has earned a relay spot, though that’s not always a certainty.
In the men’s sprint, the veteran Stefan Nystrand from Sweden to the win in 48.99. That’s the best time we’ve seen from him this year; both he and his teammate Sjostrom always swim well in Eindhoven. The runner-up was Sebastian Verschuren in 49.11 – good enough to confirm his Olympic spot. He was a World Championship finalist last year, and it seems as though he’s pared his events down to focus more on the shorter 100 and 200 this year, so he’s another great young swimmer who could be dangerous at the Olympics.