Sjostrom A Class Above With Six Sub-24 Swims In 2017


  • June 30th, 2017 – July 4th, 2017
  • Boras, Sweden
  • Results

On the third day of Sweden’s Summer National Championships being held in Boras, three-time Olympic medalist Sarah Sjostrom won the women’s 50 free in a time of 23.85.

Just off her season best of 23.83, that gives Sjostrom an incredible six swims under 24 seconds not only this season, but in the calendar year. Beginning with her personal best of 23.83 done at the Stockholm Open in April, Sjostrom has been on an absolute tear in the event.

She clocked 23.87 at the Bergen Swim Festival in May, and followed that up with three more 23-second swims on the Mare Nostrum Tour in June. That gave her an incredible five sub-24 swims this year, and now that she’s added another, the consistency we’ve seen is absolutely incredible and sets her apart from every other woman in the history of the event.

The world record stands at 23.73 from Germany’s Britta Steffen at the 2009 World Championships, which was obviously aided with a suit. That was the only time Steffen managed to get under 24.

Other than Sjostrom, only two women have ever broken 24 seconds more than once. Australia’s Cate Campbell, the 3rd fastest performer in history, has done it four times. She did it twice last year in 23.84 and 23.93, and was also 23.96 in 2014 and 23.99 in 2009. Marleen Veldhuis has done it twice, both in 2009.

Heading into this year Campbell and Veldhuis were tied for the most sub-24 swims in a season with two, but Sjostrom has tripled that now with six 23s in the span of less than three months. Prior to this season, she had been under once, clocking 23.98 at the Swedish Championships in 2014.

Three other women have dipped into the 23 range before: Therese AlshammarFrancesca Halsall and Libby Trickett. Take a look at all of the sub-24 swims in history below:

1 Britta Steffen (GER) 23.73 2009
2 Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 23.83 2017
3 Cate Campbell (AUS) 23.84 2016
T-4 Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 23.85 2017
T-4 Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 23.85 2017
6 Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 23.87 2017
7 Therese Alshammar (SWE) 23.88 2009
8 Cate Campbell (AUS) 23.93 2016
9 Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 23.95 2017
T-10 Marleen Veldhuis (NED) 23.96 2009
T-10 Francesca Halsall (GBR) 23.96 2014
T-10 Cate Campbell (AUS) 23.96 2014
T-10 Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 23.96 2017
14 Libby Trickett (AUS) 23.97 2008
15 Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) 23.98 2014
T-16 Cate Campbell (AUS) 23.99 2009
T-16 Marleen Veldhuis (NED) 23.99 2009

Sjostrom’s explosion in this event has come since she decided to drop the 200 free from her schedule. She earned silver behind Katie Ledecky in the event in Rio, but the taxing schedule ultimately hindered her performance as the meet went on. She raced a total of 16 times, and with the 50 free at the tail end of the schedule, she missed the final in 13th place.

Now that she has dropped the 200 from her schedule, as she recently said said in an interview that she wouldn’t compete in it again at a major championships, her sprints have reaped the benefits.

Along with her string of success in the 50 free, she has been dominating the 50 and 100 fly this year as per usual, and her 100 free has seen vast improvement as well. After winning bronze in Rio in a time of 52.99, she has been nearly a second faster this year, coming within two one-hundredths of the world record in June in 52.08.

With the recent dominance we’ve seen from her, it’s hard to imagine anyone touching her in Budapest in the sprint free or fly events, especially with 100 free world record holder and the only other active swimmer to break 24 seconds, Campbell, sitting out of Worlds this year. She’s ranked 1st in the world in all four events, and is well ahead of the competition in all four. The 50 free is actually the event she has the smallest advantage in, leading Olympic champ Pernille Blume (24.13) by three tenths of a second.

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6 years ago

For 10 months already Sarah Sjostrom or her representatives have been repeating that she isn’t going to compete at 200. That is by itself was strange: why one time isn’t enough. Only after her 1:56 at this meet I finally believe her. Her sudden improvement in sprint has not found automatic reflection at longer distances. To be on podium at 200 she WILL require special preparation. And with very high probability we won’t see her on blocks at 200. So Katie Ledecky with her 1500-200 double can relax. The task will be much easier than it was last year in Rio and she can make the race the way she wants.

IMs for days
6 years ago

Ok, can people stop drawing comparisons between Cate Cambell and Sarah Sjostrom. For some reason Cate Cambell seems to always choke at the olympics. No one knows why. Sjostrom always puts together great races when in counts. Rember her insane times in season in buttedfly last year? She didn’t choke in 2015 or 2016, and with an easier shedrule why should she choke now?

People didn’t say this in 2015 or 2016 with her insane butterfly times. And I think his becausd she is the one setting the world standard in that event, so people didn’t bat an eye. Now that she is doing the same thing to freestyle, where she hasn’t been the standard setter, people are thinking… Read more »

Reply to  IMs for days
6 years ago

I completely agree with you. And everyone says that her butterfly times are “worse” than last year but she has done a 55.76 this year. And she’s in hard training at Swedish championships but she still made a 55.96 in the medley relay with a terrible RT, I think it was about 0.50. So hopefully she can swim on a 55.6 in Budapest 🙂

IMs for days
6 years ago

Utterly Ridicoulous, Imagine a guy repeatedly going sub 21.4 in season more times that anyone else has in their entire career. It’s unreal

6 years ago

50 free is the closest event in women’s swimming, so that will likely be the key event for her to take the quadruple. All it takes is a slightly poor start or finish and you’re instantly in the 24.0-24.1 range where you find a shark tank of swimmers.

100 fly. Day 1 & 2. Not seeing any upsets here. But maybe “only” a 55.9.
100 free. Day 5 & 6. She will have a couple of rest days before as she won’t swim in either the individual 200 free or 800 relay. A promising outlook for gold but also a very fast time. I think this will be the swim of the meet.
50 fly. Day 6… Read more »

6 years ago

Her free looks a lot stronger than her fly this week. This is something we saw with her in previous years inseason, where she’ll be on in one stroke and not the other. I wonder how her trainings leads to these results… That said, the Campbell WR is probably safe tomorrow, but who knows

6 years ago

I see a world record in her sights come Budapest

Reply to  Brownie
6 years ago


Tom from Chicago
6 years ago

Sure, but can she do it when everyone is watching. We’ll know shortly.

Reply to  Tom from Chicago
6 years ago

Well she’s been doing pretty well since 2009 in major championships except London ’12 when she was ill just before the games…

Reply to  Tom from Chicago
6 years ago

Right, because nobody has been watching her all season.

bobo gigi
6 years ago

Nothing is gained by running if you don’t start on time.

The sun is not hurried by early risers.

Or rushing is useless, one has to leave on time.

Either Sarah Sjöström will crush the competition with multiple world records in Budapest or she was too fast too early in the season and maybe can be vulnerable in free events. I remember an Australian girl last year who broke a world record one month before Rio. We never know. That’s what her main rivals (Blume, Manuel or Kromowidjojo) must secretly hope.

Reply to  bobo gigi
6 years ago

Sjöstrom does not fail 🙂

Reply to  bobo gigi
6 years ago

Sjöström in Swedish Nationals so far:
50 fly – 25.15
100 fly – 56.53. Only ok by Sjöström standards which makes sense considering (from what we know) she’s still in pretty heavy training.
50 free – 23.85. Don’t think it will turn out she was too fast too early in the season. Just think she has attained a new level in the freestyle. Think she will improve her times come Budapest, although maybe not as much as some of her competitors. Still, it will be enough to win x 4 and then 1 or 2 WR’s.

Reply to  bobo gigi
6 years ago

Somehow, I don’t see SS doing a C1. She could pick up an injury or illness between now and then but she won’t realistically be dealing with (1) the pressure of being on a massively hyped but grossly under-performing team (2) being one of the last remaining hopes for that team to pull some credit back & (3) the moronic AUS media. She most certainly IS the big star of SWE swimming but their media focus on swimming on a much tamer level than AUS at Olympics.

Barring said illness or late inury, her competition are playing for minor coin in both 50/100 of free and fly

Ex Quaker
Reply to  bobo gigi
6 years ago

Her consistency indicates to me that she’s repeating these times under a full training schedule. She’s not typically one to miss a taper, so my hopes are fairly high.

Reply to  bobo gigi
6 years ago

Mr. Gigi is remarkably successful with his predictions: Sarah Sjostrom either breaks world records or she doesn’t.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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