It took American Michael Phelps until his 5th Olympic Games to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, but Sweden’s Therese Alshammar has done one better. After qualifying for her 6th Olympic Games, a record for a female swimmer, she is set to carry the Swedish flag in Friday’s opening ceremonies.
Sweden, spelled Suécia in the native Portuguese language of Brazil, will march 179th out of 207 delegations into the Maracanã Stadium. That’s as compared to 177th in London in 2012, and 185th in Beijing.
The 38-year old Alshammar competed in her first Olympics in 1996, when she was just 18 years old, and won her three career Olympic medals four years later in 2000 – silvers in the 50 and 100 free, and a bronze as part of Sweden’s 400 free relay.
While she hasn’t won any Olympic medals since then, she does have 12 World Championships to her name across her career, including most recently the 50 free at the 2011 World Championships.
After a post-London break, where she gave birth to her first child, a son, but has since returned to the water. Alshammar will swim one event individually in Rio – the 50 free, where she’s seeded in 24.75 – tied for 18th coming into the meet.
She is only the second swimmer to carry the flag for Sweden at the Olympics. Lars Frölander, who has also competed at 6 Olympic Games through 2012 (but didn’t qualify in 2016), carried the flag in Athens in 2004. Four years earlier, he won one of only 4 Swedish gold medals at the 2000 Olympics when he topped the 100 fly.