World Championships Preview: Women’s 100 Butterfly

2013 World Championships 100 Butterfly Race Video courtesy of Universal Sports Network, a SwimSwam partner. 

in 2009 at the age of 16 Swedish star Sarah Sjostrom won the 100 butterfly at the 2009 World Championships in a world record time of 56.06. a time of 56.06. The event at the 2013 in Barcelona saw Sjostrom reach the top of the podium once again.

Despite losing out on the European Championships gold to Jeanette Ottesen by one one-hundredth of a seond Sjostrom ended the year with the world’s top time of 56.50.

The Swede has had a very strong 2015 so far. She currently ranks number one in the world in both the 50 and 100 butterfly. At the Settle Colli Trophy in June she posted a time of 56.04, which is the first time she has gone faster than the time she put up in Rome.

After recording her first lifetime best in the event since 2009 she will be going into Kazan with a great deal of confidence. Although she has not consistently collected gold at the premier international competitions it feels like this is a year where she will once again World Championship gold.

One of the athletes who may prevent Sjostrom from repeating as world champion is 17 year old Chen Xinyi.

Last summer at the age of 16 Chen took the gold in the 100 butterfly at the Asian Games in a time of 56.61, which was a new junior world record.

Chen’s season’s best is a 57.80. She is young and extremely inexperienced on the international level, but because of her youth she may have the ability to once again make huge strides in the event. Shas a chance to not only reach the podium, but challenge for the gold as well.

Another swimmer who is looking at and has a chance to stand atop of the podium is Jeanette Ottesen.

In Berlin the Dane beat Sjostrom to take the European Championship in a new national record time of 56.51. At the 2013 World Championships Ottesen walked away from Barcelona with a gold in the 50 butterfly, but missed out on the hardware in the 100 butterfly by three one-hundredths of a second.

She currently ranks second in the world with a time of 57.15.

Ottesen has changed her training environment in the last year following her coach Shannon Rollason to Australia. Although changing training groups can often affect an athlete in a negative manner staying with the men who helped guide her to her breakout performance in Berlin is an advantage and may once again result in a gold medal winning performance.

Lu Ying of China is one of the most experienced athlet in the field. Lu took the bronze at the 2011 World Championships, a silver at the 2012 Olympic Games, a silver at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships as well as a silver at the 2014 Asian Games finishing behind teammate Cehn Xinyi.

Lu currently ranks 10th in the world with a season’s best of 57.96 and has a lifetime best of 56.87, which is one of the fastest in the field. Her experience and the ability she has shown to perform well went it counts could get her on the podium once again.

Canadian Katerine Savard finished fifth in the 100 butterfly in Barcelona in 2013 she also won gold in the 100 butterfly at the World University Games that same summer.

Last summer Savard won Commonwealth Games gold in the 100 butterfly and finished fifth at the Pan Pacific Championships.

The last two summers Savard has been involved in two major international competitions. In 2013 she competed in both the World University Games and World Championships. In 2014 she swam in both the Commonwealth Games and the Pan Pacific Championships. in each of those years she swam much better in the first competition than she did the second.

She will face the same challenge once again this summer competing at the Pan American Games before heading to Kazan for the World Championships.

One could look at the results over the last two summers and come to the conclusion that she has fallen into a pattern where she does not perform well in the most challenging meet each year. Another way to look at is that she has the opportunity to learn from her experiences and make a change this summer and swim well in Kazan.

She currently ranks seventh in the world with a time of 57.76 and has a lifetime best of 57.27.

Inge Dekker of the Netherlands failed to make the final in 2013 and missed out on a medal at the 2014 European Championships by one one-hundredth of a second.

At the end of the 2014 season Dekker ranked fifth in the world posting a lifetime best time of 57.32 and currently ranks 14th in the world with a time of 58.12.

Dekker has improved her performance each time she has attended a major international competition. There is no reason to think that will not happen again this summer putting her in the mix to earn a top eight position in Kazan.

Australian Emma McKeon has made great strides in this event over the past two years. Coming into the 2014 season McKeon’s lifetime best was a 59.72. Last summer she finished fourth at the Pan Pacific Championships posting a time of 57.85 and also won a bronze at the Commonwealth Games recording a time of 57.66.

McKeon improved on her lifetime best once again at the Australian Championships this spring putting up a time of 57.31, which currently ranks third in the world.

McKeon will look to continue to improve at a similar rate again this summer. If that is the case McKeon will not only appear in the top eight and have an outside chance of finishing in a podium position.

American Kendyl Stewart, much like McKeon, has shown tremdous improvement in this event as of late. Stewart entered the 2014 season with a lifetime best of 59.22 and dopped close a second and a half to earn Pan Pacific bronze in a time of 57.82.

Just like McKeon Stewart will be looking to make another big improvement in Kazan, which could put her in the top eight.

Italian Ilaria Bianchi comes into the competition with a season’s best of 58.19, which ranks 17th in the world. Bianchi finished fifth at the 2012 Olympic Games and has been in the final at every major international since, finishing sixth at the 2013 World Championships and third at the 2014 European Games.

Bianchi has a lifetime best of 57.27 which she posted at the Olympic Games.

Her experience and success at international competitions since the Olympics may have the Italian in the top eight once again.

American Claire Donahue finished seventh at the Olympic Games recording a lifetime best of 57.42. Donahue also finished eighth at the 2013 World Championships and sixth at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships.

Although she has the experience of making the top eight at major international competitions her season’s best is only a 58.99.

Of course Donahue will have a chance at making it into the top eight in Kazan, but it won’t be easy.

  1. Sarah Sjostrom, SWE            56.04
  2. Chen Xinyi, CHN                   56.61
  3. Jeanette Ottesen, DEN         56.51
  4. Lu Ying, CHN                         56.87
  5. Katerine Savard, CAN           57.27
  6. Inge Dekker, NED                 57.32
  7. Emma McKeon, AUS            57.31
  8. Kendyl Stewart, USA            57.82

Dark Horse

Ilaria Bianch, ITA                       57.27

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8 years ago


8 years ago

Any guesses as to what Vollmer would have been in London if she hadn’t had an off finish?

Lane Four
Reply to  100free
8 years ago


8 years ago

Sjöström posted an easy sub 57 yesterday at the Swedish nationals and in the post swim interview she said she would save the world record swim for later this year – that’s confidence and a message to the rest of the field 🙂

Ottesen is a bit of a question mark after the attack where she and her boyfriend got injured.

Victor P
8 years ago

Sjostrom wins in 55.60.

8 years ago

Too bad Kelsi Worrell won’t be at World Champs…we’ll have to wait til Rio to see what she can do on the big stage

Reply to  Flyin'
8 years ago

I wouldn’t see her getting a medal here

Lane Four
8 years ago

If anyone is interested, there is a great 8 minute video on Sarah Sjostrom leading into the 2012 Olympics. It is a few years old, but gives a really good insight into this talented athlete. I thoroughly enjoyed it and discovered a new found respect and liking for her.

Reply to  Lane Four
8 years ago

I was literally just about to go look for something like this. Thanks!!

8 years ago

Why did you stop posting predictions about time? Too much hate?

Reply to  MIKE
8 years ago

Probably people will cry out and other stuff if anyone predict that sjostrom will crush vollmer WR

Lane Four
8 years ago

I am extremely excited for this one race because of one swimmer – Sarah Sjostrom. If she doesn’t get the world record this time around, she most definitely will before the Rio Olympic Games. At her best, she is without peer.

About Jeff Grace

Jeff Grace

Jeff is a 500 hour registered yoga teacher who holds diplomas in Coaching (Douglas College) and High Performance Coaching (National Coaching Institute - Calgary). He has a background of over 20 years in the coaching profession, where he has used a unique and proven teaching methodology to help many achieve their …

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