Sarah Sjostrom Didn’t Start Swimming Until She Was 10

Are you worried that your swimmer is behind because she got a late start in the sport, or because she didn’t start swimming year round until she was past her 10th birthday?

Look no further for your hope than Swedish swimmer Sarah Sjostrom, who didn’t play any sports until she was 10 years old. By 15, she was a World Champion, which shows that success in this sport can be sudden and unpredictable.

Sarah, who has apparently been given the nickname “GOLD BAE” by her World Cup teammates, stood up for an interview with US National Teamer Michael Andrew at the World Cup stop in Doha, Qatar

Other good nuggets from the interview:

  • Sarah, who already has 3 Olympic Games under her belt at 25 years old, thinks she can make 3 more. She will turn 35 within 2 weeks of the 2028 Olympics, but has a role model in longevity from her own country: Therese Alshammar, who raced at 6 Olympic Games. That includes 2016 in Rio, where she was Sweden’s flag bearer at 39-years old.
  • Sarah is left-handed
  • Sarah recognizes that she sometimes gets angry after a race that she’s not happy with, but moves on very quickly – mirroring a quality frequently cited among the world’s greatest athletes.

Sjostrom is a 3-time Olympic medalist, winning the 100 fly in Rio, placing 2nd in the 200 free, and taking 3rd in the 100 free. She’s also a 10-time World Champion (7 in long course, 3 in short course), winning her first World Championship in the 100 fly in 2009 when she was only 15-years old.

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Is it even possible not to love Sarah Sjostrom? ❤️


Yes, it is possible not to love her. For example, when she jumps on lane ropes and acts conceited after some of her victories in Sun Yang fashion. Not crazy about her big arm tattoo. She has a little bit of a “look at me, look at me” element about her, confirmed by even doing this Michael Andrew interview, and it is somewhat arrogant of her to assume quite casually that she will be able to swim in another three or four Olympics.


Unnecessarily harsh. She’s worked hard . Allowed to celebrate.


What do you mean when you say that Sarah “acted conceited” after some of her victories? Who wouldn’t be elated after winning a championship gold medal? Also, I’ve never seen Sun Yang consoling a competitor after a race, the way Sarah did when Cate C. missed the 100 free podium in Rio. As for Sarah assuming she’ll be able to swim in three more Olympics, I don’t think she’s being arrogant at all. The competition among swedish swimmers isn’t nearly as fierce as is it in the U.S, or in Australia. Below are the split times made by the slowest swimmer in the swedish 4×100 free relay team at the respective global championship finals since 2012: All splits were made… Read more »


@POGUIE: Sarah Sjostrom is one of the greatest swimmers ever. Her world records will probably stay as long as Ledecky’s ones. Especially the record in 50 fly. For that we can forgive her if she behaves sometimes the way you don’t like. It’s minor. But at least it is her real emotions – nothing like sugar covered Missy Franklin. I remember her almost unacceptable behavior after 100 free final in Kazan when she had beaten Cate Campbell but lost unexpectedly to Bronte. I don’t like her attitude toward 200 free when she publicly stated that she doesn’t like 200 free race because she has to train for it too much and she hates this. I don’t like when describing her… Read more »


I took the liberty of translating a couple of paragraphs, from when Sarah talked about her career and youth, on swedish radio in june 2017. The first part is about when she started swimming and the second part about how she prepares for races today. I thought it might be interesting to some of the readers here and I guess 99% of you don’t understand swedish. 😉 “The first time I competed ended in tears and resignation. I landed on my belly when I dove into the water and only had the strength to swim 40 meters. After that I sat on the pool edge and watched the others swim the last 60 meters of the race. I ran… Read more »

Coach Mike 1952

Delightful interview. Thanks MA.


I wish Michael Andrew would have asked Sarah Sjostrom her thoughts on the recent partial suspension of Sweden’s anti-doping lab in Stockholm and the blind eye Sweden has been accused of turning to the use of prohibited substances by certain Swedish athletes.


I seriously doubt Sarah has any opinion, or knowledge for that matter, concerning anti-doping testing involving the gas chromatography combustion isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GC/C/IRMS) method – the Stockholm laboratory’s regular anti-doping activities are not affected by this partial suspension. *roll eyes* For explicit information on the subject, t’s better to go to the main source. This is what is written on the WADA website: “* The WADA accreditation of the Doping Control Laboratory at the Karolinska University Hospital has been partially suspended from conducting anti-doping testing involving the gas chromatography combustion isotope ratio mass spectrometry (GC/C/IRMS) method. This partial suspension came into effect on the 1st of August 2018. During the partial suspension, the Stockholm Laboratory can continue carrying… Read more »


Yes, perhaps Sarah Sjostrom would not know about the Swedish laboratory science and deficiencies, but it would be interesting to hear her views on why there is such a high use of asthma medication containing terbutaline among Swedish athletes (presumably with TUEs). Apparently, Swedish national TV (SVT) has reported that Swedish Olympic skiers allegedly have “asthma” at a rate six times higher than the general population and that nearly half of Sweden’s Olympic medals since 1992 have been awarded to athletes with “asthma.” So it is a relevant question to put to one of Sweden’s most prominent Olympic athletes.


First of all Mr. Keith, you are wrong about the similarity of statistics across nations and you seem to have a terribly cynical attitude about the circumvention of doping regulations. Secondly, it seems it would be a very relevant and topical question for Miss Sjostrom given the recent Fancy Bears hack of Swedish data that shows an aquatics athlete-swimmer (Sprint less than 100 M) who was tested on 9-4-17 (shortly after 2017 World Championships) and who had terbutaline in his/her system. This is not to impugn Miss Sjostrom as there is no direct indication that she is the athlete listed or that the athlete did not have a TUE. But it is quite startling to see how many Swedish athletes… Read more »


I believe us swimmers have the highest rate of “Asthma” out of any population. I don’t know a single US swimmer who doesn’t use a salbutamol inhaler. Maybe Sarah should have also questioned MA on why US doesn’t test their athletes nearly as much as Nordic nations do?


That’s fine if she has actual data or information to support the question, I am not American, but even if your quite dubious “beliefs” and statements were correct, does that make it right for athletes (from any and all nations) without asthma to be given asthma diagnoses and a TUE pass to use otherwise banned medication?


I believe that Rowdy didn’t start until High School

He Said What?

Yep. started in 1976 and two years later wins two gold medals and one silver at the world championships! With all of the complaining about his announcing skills, no one can complain about his being a gifted and talented swimmer.

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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