A number of Swedish swimmers have protested what they believe to be a wrongful exclusion from the nation’s Short Course World Championships team, and the national swimming federation has moved to silence the protests, according to Swedish newspaper Expressen.
Butterflyer/IMer Simon Sjodin is coming off a Swedish Championships meet which saw him set a new national record in the 400 IM, but was still left off of the nation’s roster for the World Championships in Doha, Qatar this week.
Several of Sweden’s biggest swimming stars came to his defense publicly. Butterflyer Michelle Coleman tweeted her support for Sjodin on November 24 – the rough English translation of her Swedish tweet and Instagram post is “I cannot change this, but I can show that I think it’s wrong,” along with a picture of Sjodin. Former Swedish Olympian Emma Igelstrom also tweeted, calling it a “scandal” and calling on the Swedish Swimming Federation to “wake up.” Flyer/freestyler Sarah Sjostrom retweeted both sentiments.
Now Expressen is reporting that several Swedish swimmers received phone calls this winter from the federation, threatening that they could lose their spot on the roster for Doha if they continued to protest Sjodin’s exclusion. The Expressen story did not name specific names of current swimmers, though they did quote Igelstrom, who is now retired.
The Swedish Swimming Federation denies that any swimmers were threatened with expulsion from the team.
This isn’t the first time Swedish swimmers have clashed with their federation this year. Expressen also writes that Swedish Swimming decided to remove its prize money bonuses for European Championships medals this past summer, which sparked a protest from many of the nation’s top swimmers. Athletes were taken aside individually and warned to stop protesting, according to Expressen. The Swedish federation did confirm that several athletes were warned about violating the rules of the federation at the European Championships, though the federation wouldn’t specifically comment on what those violations were.
Sjodin, for his part, is staying somewhat low-key in all of the chaos. He talked to Expressen early last week about his exclusion from the Worlds roster, and was critical of the nation’s selection procedures. But Sjodin also made clear he didn’t want to fight with the federation.
“There is no point creating a beef with Swimming Federation,” Sjodin said. “ They need me and I need them. Together we must find a solution so that this does not repeat itself in the future.” You can find that full story in its original Swedish here.
Sjodin’s 200 IM time from Swedish nationals ranks 8th in the world this year, and his 400 IM sits 14th. There is only one male athlete on the roster, and that’s 19-year-old breaststroker Johannes Skagius, who appears in FINA’s world rankings at 51st in the long course 50 breast.