Early in her career, Swedish superstar Sarah Sjostrom has been best known for her skills in the 100 butterfly, and rightfully so. She was only 14 when she broke the Swedish National Record in the race, and only 15 when she broke the World Record at the 2009 World Championships (which still stands today).
But her star has been rising very much in the 200 free as she’s gained more experience (at the ripe old age of 18), which she demonstrated today by breaking with some ease her own National Record in the 200 SCM Free at the Swedish National Championships. Her swim of 1:52.58 broke her own best, done just over a month ago at the Stockholm World Cup spot, where she posted a 1:52.92. Incidentally, that also breaks her Swedish Junior Record as well.
That performance doesn’t move her up in the World Rankings, however, as she still ranks 2nd behind American Allison Schmitt. That does, however, move Sjostrom up to 5th on the all-time list in the event. Depending on which conversion factors you use, that puts you somewhere south of a 1:54 in a long-course pool, which would have easily been the best in the World in 2011. She still has to prove that mark (her best in long course is 1:56.41), but is still an extremely impressive mark.
She even surprised herself in the race after only a 1:57.2 in prelims, saying via Twitter that she thought she could “go a little bit faster” in the finals session.
As Sjostrom set one record, one of her old marks went down – specifically the junior mark in the 100 backstroke. There, 18-year old Michelle Coleman took the National Title in 58.39, which moves her to 14th in the World Rankings early in this short course season. Sweden’s medley relay, with Sjostrom and Alshammar and a big corps of strong breaststrokers, but the backstroke leg has been a big challenge for them (they’ve even experimented with shifting Sjostrom to backstroke, with little success).
If Coleman has enough time to continue her development before the 2012 London Olympics and can get her long course time somewhere close to a minute (she’s much stronger in short course – 1:02.9 in long course) she could be the answer to some big problems for that Swedish medley. That’s still a big if at this point, though, until she shows the same skill in long course that she’s shown in short.
The runner-up in that 100 back could be a factor for London too. Magdalena Kuras touched second in 58.78, which lops nearly two seconds off of her career-best.
Martina Granstroem had a huge finals session to take two individual victories in two career-best times (though the results call them junior records, they’re not, as she’s 20 years old). First, she won the 200 fly, her best event, in a swift 2:04.71. She came back only half-an-hour later in 1:00.42.
In the men’s version of the 100 IM, Sebastian Holmberg swam the 2nd-best time in Swedish history when he won in 54.31. Daniel Lundahl finished 2nd in that race in 55.01. Those two swimmers are each 20-years old, and are part of what Sweden hopes to be a youth revival on the men’s side like the one that they’ve seen for the women.
The Godfather of Swedish men’s swimming, Lars Frolander who is still butterflying at 37-years old, won the men’s 100 fly in 52.64. That just held off a tough finish from David Larsson in 52.81.