Sarah Sjostrom Leads Off Relay With Fourth Fastest 200 Free Ever

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.

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Irish Ringer

It was a statement swim to let the ladies know that even though she wasn’t in the 200m Free to make no mistake…she is the fastest woman in the world at that distance.


Yea. I mean it was literally a no pressure situation, the other top swimmers were swimming their 4th 200 free of the meet, and she was doing her first. And Ledecky had already done 2 1500m WR swims, 2 400m swims, one being a CR, and 3 200 meter swims, winning the individual. But yea, she should be considered the undoubted best in the world in this event. Also, Ryan Murphy should be considered the best 100 backstroker obviously.


Ryan Morphy’s 52.18 was unoffical, illegal, unlawful and banned…….according to FINA.


This is a FINA event. It is not ratifiable for one of the dumbest reasons. Popovs record shouldn’t have counted by that standard.


I see you read my reply from yesterday
As I said it’s ridiculous that the 3rd? greatest time isn’t recognised
I wanna petition!

CT Swim Fan

Why exactly does FINA not recognize a relay lead off swim?


This one’s not getting settled before Rio but if they were head-to-head without other swims in the same session, are you really putting your $ on Ledecky? I’d book it at 3-1, maybe 4-1.


Yes. I would. Sjostrom has not proved herself one bit in the 200 free racing against ACTUAL competition. She has done her swims in situations where there is no pressure, either because the competition is so easy that she could win the race with a broken leg, OR, in this case, her team has no shot to win so she just lets it fly. Ledecky wasn’t even considered a podium favorite against the likes of Franklin, Heemskerk, and Pellegrini. Remember, Pellegrini was not able to produce her best in this final( her textile best of 1:55.00 was done THIS YEAR) and she is (rightfully) considered he GOAT in this event. People think sjostrom could repeat 1:54 low when not even… Read more »


Nice to see an acknowledgement of Pellegrini as the GOAT in the 200free. It takes one to know one.

Philip Johnson

Hey Billabong, you’ve been awfully quiet since your boy le Clos lost.


#PVDH, your statement that Sjostrom “has not proven herself […]

against ACTUAL competition” is pretty ignorant. Since 2014, she’s been litterally unbeatable at 200m and held had the fastest yearly times both on long and short courses. Her huge improvement on your goats previous world record at the 2014 World Championship should be an indication. So even as Ledecky becomes more and more competitive at 200m, there’s still no question on who was the faster 200m swimmer in Kazan!

As for 400m freestyle, Sjostrom’s results actually do indicate she would be competitive with just a bit of dedicated practice (though I doubt this dream will ever come to fruition).

Victor P

Geez, that’s easy to discount it as a “no pressure” situation especially considering her time was 0.85 s faster – near a full second faster. By that standard, one should ignore the 1:54.77 she swam earlier in the year. People, give credit where it’s due! Sjostrom’s 200 free has been faster than Ledecky’s at any point you look at. One thing that can be said for Sjostrom – she actually improved on her best time while Ledecky only tied hers. Yes, there’s something to be said for the pressure of a final, but still! Sjostrom’s speed is a pretty good indicator that she’ll be sub 1:54 in Rio. Not too many girls will follow in that category. Possibly Ledecky, but… Read more »


I’m not saying ANYTHING about sjostroms sprinting. In that she is the best, even against the best competition. But adding 3 200 meter swims for a sprinter is not ideal. Even if she can go the fastest time in a one off event.


The no pressure argument is unfair when you consider that no one had such comments about Franklin’s lead off in 2011. As for the argument that Ledecky had swum 123012321 meters before that final. Yes, she did, and she swam that time of 1:55.16, if Sjostrom swum yesterday, she would’ve had 400m of semis/heats behind her, which is the same as her 2x 100s and her 200heats this morning. I was very critical of Sjostrom skipping the 200, I think she would’ve won in a 1:54.5-1:54.8 despite “pressure” (soemthing she took care of very well earlier this week). On paper, I see Sjostrom as the favorite in the 100 tomorrow. her time drops in her other events suggests to me… Read more »


Sarah sjostrom has already swum a 1:54 individually and 1:53 off a relay flying start so she is a proven performer in the 200 free. Aside from that 52.18 split in a “mixed medley” relay by Ryan Murphy, he hasn,t really proven himself individually. By the way the mixed medley relay is different from the traditional medley relay.


And similar to this, they were low pressure situations. She wouldn’t be able to fit 3 200 freestyles and still deliver 54 low.


LIke I say it won’t be settled before next year (if then) but I disagree… She’s a multiple world champion so can’t say she’s untested when it comes to pressure. It’s fair to question if she can maintain speed through 3 rounds of 200s but I don’t think she’d have to exert herself too much to make the final. We shall see…. She’s not as ridiculously resilient as Ledecky (no one is) and she’ll have to balance the demands of the rest of the schedule.


Great point, very similar to Missy’s 200 leadoff in 2011.

Victor P

The difference is that Missy’s been heading mostly in the wrong direction in the 200 free since 2011. Sjostrom’s been making gradual improvements.

About Mitch Bowmile

Mitch Bowmile

Mitch Bowmile is a former Canadian age group swimmer who was forced to end his career early due to a labrum tear in his hip and a torn rotator cuff after being recognized as one of the top 50 breaststrokers his age in Canada. He competed successfully at both age …

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