Sarah Sjostrom Breaks Steffen’s Super-Suit Record in 50 Free Semi


Sarah Sjostrom hasn’t been unbeatable at this meet (she took silver in the individual 100 free), but in every other way she’s been as good as expected based on the season of performances she’s had so far.

On Saturday in the 50 free semi-finals, Sarah Sjostrom swam a 23.67 which took Britta Steffen‘s 23.73 World Record from 2009.

There are now only 3 long course women’s World Records remaining from the super-suit era in 2008 and 2009:

  • 200 free – Federica Pellegrini, 1:52.98, 2009
  • 50 back – Zhao Jing, 27.06, 2009
  • 200 fly – Liu Zige, 2:01.81, 2009
  • 800 free relay – China, 7:42.08, 2009

Steffen’s swim was also the old European Record that Sjostrom broke. Sjostrom’s previous best of 23.83 came in April this year at the Swim Open Stockholm.

Sjostrom now has 2 World Records at this meet (100 free, 50 free), 2 gold medals (50 fly, 100 fly), one silver medal (100 free), and a top seed headed into Saturday’s 50 free final.

Pernille Blume, the 2016 Olympic Champion, is the 2nd qualifier in 24.05.

In This Story


  1. Swima says:

    I think it’s supposed to say “sjostrom now has 2…” and not Steffen 😉 what an amazing performance from Sarah- so deserving!

  2. Liam says:

    This shows that she had a bad day yesterday! I hope Sarah takes the gold tomorrow!

    • target says:

      She lost the damn 100 free get over it.

    • SchoolingFTW says:

      Yeah, it was not a good swim yesterday. She had age group finish. Looking up before completely touched the pad.
      She also went out stupidly fast at 24.75, allowing Manuel to draft off her. Similar to what happened in Rio, except Sarah was able to swim straight while Campbell circle swam, going from one side of the lane to the other side during the second 50.

      • Dave Rollins says:

        I would argue that she took the 100 out exactly where she should have. She’s the world record holder in the 50 at 23.6. She was out in 24.7. Plus 1.1 is about perfect.
        CD was 21.1 in the 50, yet takes the 100 out in 22.2 or 22.3. Plus 1.1 or 1.2.
        Seems like she was right where she was capable of.
        To me, it looks like she shortened up her stroke the last 25 and misjudged her finish. Where as CD puts his head down, elongates his stroke and accelerates to the wall.
        She has had an incredible meet, fastest ever in 4 events is quite the accomplishment.
        Cheering her on in the final!

        • SchoolingFTW says:

          1.1 seconds off 23.6 is quite significantly smaller gap than 1.2 seconds off 21.1

          She went out 24.83 in her WR swim. That was perfect.

  3. SchoolingFTW says:

    I hope she doesn’t break WR in the semis only to lose the final. That would be tragic.

    • Prickle says:

      That could be disappointment bud in no way it will be tragic. Do you remember names of all these world champions that can change each two years? But you definitely know who Britta Steffen is. Her record stood for eight years. I think that Sarah’s achievement will live even longer. She holds four world records in different swimming disciplines simultaneously and probably will stay in this state for long long time. That is the bottom line of this meet.

      • Prickle says:

        BTW, who else have four or more world records at the same time and for how long? For example, Ledecky has only ( 🙂 ) three but since June 2014 for 38 months already.

        • SchoolingFTW says:

          Off the top of my head, Lorraine Crappe, John Konrad, Debbie Meyer, Don Schollander, Shane Gould, Mark Spitz, Kornelia Ender, Michael Gross, Tim Shaw, Inge de Bruijn, Michael Phelps. And now Sarah Sjostrom.

          • Prickle says:

            I just made quick check (maybe inaccurate) and haven’t find the period of time in MP’s career when he hold simultaneously four world records.

          • Cyrus says:

            After the 2009 USA swimming world trials when he broke Crockers, 100 fly record, and also held the 200 fly, 200/400 IMs. He held 4 until Lochte broke the 200 IM record at WCs. So for about a month in 2009, Phelps held 4 WRs.

          • SchoolingFTW says:

            And don’t forget about 200 free. So that’s 5 WRs.

          • Boknows34 says:

            Phelps also had the 200 free record until Biedermann’s 1.42.00 at Rome 2009. So, going into that meet Phelps held 5 WRs by my count.

            He held 4 WRs after Melbourne 2007 and Beijing 2008 with the 200 free, 200 fly, 200/400IM. Then 5 WRs after 2009 US Trials.

            At Rome he lost the 200 free WR on Jul 28 and 200 IM WR on Jul 30. Cavic then took the 100 fly WR during the semis on Jul 31, so Phelps was down to two WRs before regaining the 100 fly WR a day later. Ever since then he remains on 3 WRs. 100/200 fly and 400 IM.

          • Boknows34 says:

            Five WRs going into Rome 2009. He lost three (200 free, 200 IM, 100 fly), then regained the 100 fly. Since his 49.82 Phelps has held 3 WRs to this day. Dressel almost took him back today to two. Milak and maybe Kalisz could some day take the other two. The 400 IM record will probably be the last to go.

          • USA USA USA says:

            Don’t forget about relay world records. Those count.

          • USA USA USA says:

            Also Aaron Peirsol (If you count relays)

      • SchoolingFTW says:

        I agree with you that Sarah’s freestyle WRs and 50 fly WR will last for a long time. She might still not stop breaking her free WRs though. Scary thought.

      • Breeze says:

        All top athletes believe “big-time players make big-time plays in big games.”

  4. theroboticrichardsimmons says:

    For all the kudos that Dressel is getting – and well-deserved – Sjostrom already holds the mantle that we all hope Dressel will one day hold…WR in 50/100 free and 50/100 fly.

  5. Richard Sports Assassin Stevens says:

    It’s interesting….for swimmers, do they focus on just winning or going for presonance bests, world records or bests, in semis or finals? The expectation levels on the top swimmers seems immense…yet seemingly manageable. Com parents the likes of athletics with a Mo Farah who consistently fails to produce stellar times, records or personal bests yet in certain circles is lauded for beating rivals accepted as inferior on many levels.

    • SchoolingFTW says:

      For swimmers like Sjostrom, Dressel, C1 (but not when having mental collapse), they can swim fast anytime anywhere, so I don’t think it’s a matter of targeting records in the semis etc. Especially when it’s 50 distances, except for Sarah in 50 fly. She’s so far ahead the field that she can just ease off in the semis.

      But of course some sprinters like PVDH and de Bruijn used to go all out in the semis to intimidate their competitors.

    • PowerPlay says:

      It’s all about winnings championships with times secondary. Longer races in track and field have more strategy and often slower times because they’re racing not time trialing. Much less drafting and strategy in swimming races.

  6. Joe says:

    The thing is, Sarah does not know how to swim 99%. She’s always 110% for good or bad. Mostly good, because it’s great to cheer for a swimmer that is always fantastic in-season aswell. If all swimmers were going all out all the time the sport would be even more amazing, so we should be greatful for that mindset. 100 free loss is not too bad for her in the grand scheme of things. She tried to out-do herself and it backfired. But it will give her great motivation for the future, especially for that partical event. If she had won 4 gold medals and broken 2 WR here, then what? This will keep her motivated.

    • Prickle says:

      I think that Sarah Sjostrom simply didn’t expect competition that requires her to be under 52.2
      It is still the area that requires from her to be close to perfect. At least without obvious mistakes in technique and strategy. She was faster 52 2 only two times and she cannot be that fast each day. She just hasn’t expected to be beaten when the field was estimated to be at best 52.5sec. Should she expected contest at such level she would be for sure more accurate and careful and concentrated. I think the lesson has been learned. And that what is most important. About this medal … it’s ok let others to play a little with this toy.

  7. Ice age swimmer says:

    That 200 fly record is just brutal. Too bad Schmitty doesn’t have the 200 free record. She would if it wasn’t for those damned suits. In my head, she’s the fastest ever.

    • Joe says:

      It’s to the point where it is highly debatable if Sjöström would beat it if she had given 200 fly a serious go at some point. But hey, Steffen’s records looked ridiculous not so long ago aswell.

      • Prickle says:

        What makes you to think so? Her best time at 200 fly is 2:12.77 and she stopped swimming this event since 2012. If to play “what if” games then I’d rather expect her to be under 4 minutes at 400 free than to be competitive at 200 fly.

  8. swimmer says:

    The 50 back record will be broken soon, so as the 4*200 relay. With Ledecky in top form and the big improvement of Comerford and smith over the last year, I am sure they can average 1.55.52.
    Maybe by Tokyo Ledecky or some other young talent will be able to break the 200 free record.
    As for the 200 fly, may the odds be ever in your favor girls.

  9. re-evaluate says:

    is there a race video of this one? it’s not up on NBC which I find surprising.

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder 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, …

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