Sarah Sjostrom To Focus On Freestyle, May Not Swim Butterfly In Tokyo Olympics

Reigning Olympic 100 fly champ Sarah Sjostrom made a key revelation in an interview this week: her freestyle has seen more progress in her recovery from a broken elbow, and she may not even swim the 100 fly at the Tokyo Olympics.

Sjostrom broke her elbow slipping on ice back in February. The injury has created a major hurdle for the 27-year-old Swedish swimming star. She’s the reigning Olympic champion and world record-holder in the 100 fly as well as the world record-holder in both the 50 free and 100 free. She fell to silver in all three of those races at the 2019 World Championships, but remained one of the top gold medal contenders in all three events heading into the Tokyo Olympics.

Sjostrom needed surgery to repair her broken elbow, and hasn’t competed since the injury. She’s targeting the early-June Mare Nostrum series stop in Canet as her return to racing, but has previously said that she lost four centimeters (just under two inches) of muscle mass on her right arm, leading to an unbalanced stroke.

In an interview this week with Sverige Radio in Sweden, Sjostrom said she’s only been able to start swimming butterfly as of last week, and the strength imbalance has made the stroke particularly difficult to swim.

“I’m not as strong in my right arm, I lost almost four centimeters of muscle mass around my broken arm,” Sjostrom said, ina  translation of the original Swedish. “It becomes very fluid and asymmetrical in butterfly swimming.”

Because of that, Sjostrom says she likely won’t seek to defend her Olympic 100 fly title unless something drastically changes.

“Of course I hope that the butterfly swimming will work all of a sudden,” she said. “But I am not very hopeful that the butterfly will work until the Olympics. It will be difficult. But I am very happy that the freestyle swimming works in any case.”

Sjostrom has swum the 100 fly in the past three Olympics, taking 27th in 2008 (at the age of 14), 4th in 2012, and 1st in 2016.

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29 days ago

That would be a very sad for Sjostrom but I am impressed by her optimistic attitude about the situation. Looks like Hansson will fill in as the Swedish flyer quite nicely.

29 days ago

Right decision imo – 100fl looks like it’s going to take a 55. to medal and that’ll be a tough ask.

Reply to  Dee
29 days ago

And 100 free looks like it’s 52.2 or better to medal, that’s also a tough task.

29 days ago

Wouldnt it be better to give her spot up to someone else thats at 100%? I feel like she needs to show whats shes got in June or early July

Reply to  Swammerstein
29 days ago

Sjostrom will swim at least two meets before Olympics (one of them will be Sette Colli in Rome).
Anyway, quite impressive reading a comment like this. I’ve never seen a swimmer so generous vs her Country like Sjostrom, who has swum plenty of relay heats, to make possible that her team advanced to the final, even if the fatigue due to the great amount of swims diminished her chances to reach individual golds.

Reply to  nuotofan
29 days ago

thats a lot different than breaking her arm months before. dont be ridiculous dude

Reply to  Swammerstein
29 days ago

And Swedish depth is a lot different that in Usa (but also in other Countries..). I think that Sjostrom would be the first to give her spot in the 50 or 100 free to other Swedish swimmers who have swum the QT, if more competitive at the end of July.

Reply to  Swammerstein
29 days ago

I think Sweden does not have anyone with A cut on 100 fly except Sjostrom Herself and Hanson.. so giving up her spot would not make any difference

Same on 50 free only Herself and Coleman.

On 100 free they have Sjostrom, Coleman and Hanson, but Hanson is 54 low.. So why should sjostrom give up?

Reply to  Rafael
29 days ago

Agreed Rafael.

Reply to  Rafael
28 days ago

Plus the minimum time for the Swedish Olympic Committee for consideration is faster than FINA A cuts, ex. Women’s 50 Free is 24.53 vs 24.77, plus the 24.53 is still not a guaranteed spot (I don’t have all the event cuts on top of my mind, just 1 example here).

Reply to  Swammerstein
23 days ago

Who would that be? Sweden unfortunately has no depth in any event, there is no chance what so ever two others are going to clear the Swedish Olympic cuts in any of Sarah’s events. (Which are faster than the FINA A-cuts) Even Coleman does not have a slot yet.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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