Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden led off the Swedish 4x200m freestyle relay with the fourth fastest 200m freestyle ever recorded.
Sjostrom put the Swedes into first after her performance, touching the wall in 1:54.31. Her closest competitor was 200m freestyle bronze medallist Missy Franklin of the United States in 1:55.95.
Her time beats Allison Schmitt’s 1:54.40 as the fourth fastest 200m free of all time. It’s also the second fastest textile 200m freestyle ever behind only Schmitt’s 1:53.61 winning time from the 2012 London Olympic Games.
It also moves Sjostrom to the third best performer ever in the event behind only Frederica Pellegrini and Schmitt. Pellegrini holds the fastest and third fastest 200m freestyles at 1:52.98 and 1:53.67.
With her 1:54.31, Sjostrom would have won the individual 200m freestyle final at these world championships by almost a full second. The gold medal went to Katie Ledecky of the United States in 1:55.16. Ledecky was in the same 4x200m freestyle relay race as Sjostrom, anchoring the American team to a gold medal.
The Swedish team led for the first 600-meters, but they were passed almost immediately as Ledecky entered the pool.
Putting their best swimmers on the front half of their relay, Ida Marko-Varga of Sweden was passed by both Frederica Pellegrini of Italy and Duo Shen of China, leaving the Swedes off the podium and settling for fourth.
At the touch the Swedish team was a 7:49.10 following Marko-Varga’s two-minute split. Marko-Varga has been a 1:58.2 in the 200m freestyle, although she hasn’t been close to that time since the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
There’s no denying that the Swedish team is a medal threat, and potentially a threat for gold. They need one more 1:57 200m freestyler to put on their team heading into Rio. If they can invest in the event and manage that, there’s no denying that gold is an option for the Swedish team come 2016.