38-year-old Therese Alshammar of Sweden was selected on June 21 to compete in the 50 free at the upcoming Rio Olympics.
Alshammar will make history as the third swimmer ever and first female swimmer to compete in six Olympics– only Derya Büyükuncu of Turkey and Lars Frölander (also of Sweden) have competed in that many Olympics. Both men swam in six straight, running from 1992 in Barcelona to 2012 in London.
Swedish news outlet DN.se reports that Alshammar’s time in the 50 free at the Canet stop of the Mare Nostrum tour, a strong 24.75, was enough to convince the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOK) to place Alshammar on the Swedish Olympic team. That time is fairly close to the 24.61 she went to finish 6th at the 2012 London Games, and is actually faster than her two 50 swims from the 2008 Beijing Games.
In her interview with DN, Alshammar said “I would like to do my fastest race ever in the Olympic final.” That’s quite a goal, considering her best time is a magic suit-aided 23.88 from the 2009 World Championships. Only Britta Steffen (also in 2009) at 23.73 and Cate Campbell at 23.84 have been faster than that in history– Campbell is the favorite to win the event in Rio.
Alshammar won silver in the 50 and 100m free along with a relay bronze at the Sydney Games in 2000. Her Olympic debut came in 1996, and now, 20 years later, the sprint specialist will compete once again in Rio. She’s been swimming in the Olympics as long as I, the author of this post, have been alive.
In addition to Alshammar, Charlotta Fougberg was added to the Swedish Olympic team in the 3000m steeplechase– that makes 140 members of the Swedish team right now.
Alshammar now joins a Swedish Olympic swim team that includes Sarah Sjostrom, Jennie Johansson, Simon Sjödin, Erik Persson, Sophie Hansson, Ida Marko Varga, Louise Hansson, Ida Lindborg, Stina Gardell, and Michelle Coleman.