World Record Holder Sarah Sjostrom Skipping 100 Free, 100 Fly at Euros


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Entry lists released Sunday confirmed that Sarah Sjostrom is forgoing the 100 freestyle and 100 butterfly at the 2022 European Championships to focus on the 50 free and 50 fly.

The 28-year-old Swedish superstar is the current world record holder in all four aforementioned events. Her absence from the 100 free marks the first time she’s skipped the event at a major international long-course meet since the 2011 World Championships. 

At the 2022 World Championships in June, Sjostrom claimed her fourth 50 fly crown in a row with a 24.95 before winning her second gold medal in the 50 free with a 23.98. She also took silver in the 100 free just .13 seconds behind 18-year-old Aussie Mollie O’Callaghan (52.67). Sjostrom sat out her specialty 100 fly event in Budapest while continuing to work back from a fractured elbow suffered in February of 2021.

“It’s tough — it’s unusual to have two championships in one summer,” Sjostrom said, translated via Swedish broadcaster SVT. “It’s tough to recharge. But I just try to follow the procedures as best I can and do the job.”

Making the turnaround tougher was a positive COVID-19 test after Worlds, which was her first time dealing with the virus according to her Instagram story. She didn’t indicate severe symptoms in her post, but as we saw from athletes like American breaststroker Lilly King, that time out of the water and recovery even from mild symptoms can impact athletes’ performances at meets.

Sjostrom said she’s taking a more relaxed approach in Rome with only the 50s on her slate along with two relays in her plans. 

“I have not set any special goals,” she said. “Instead it becomes more ‘go with the flow’ and see what happens. I know that I have been reasonably stable in 50 meters, so it’s just a matter of continuing.”

Sjostrom comes in as the top seed in both the 50 free and 50 fly after setting her season-best times less than two months ago at Worlds. In the free, the veteran sprint specialist faces her stiffest competition from Poland’s Kasia Wasick, who went 24.17 at U.S. Summer Nationals last month, just a hair faster than her silver medal performance from Worlds. 

Sjostrom is a bigger favorite in the 50 fly, where her entry time is more than half a second faster than the field. Her 24.95 from Worlds marked the 13th time in her career she broke the 25-second barrier. France’s Marie Wattel (25.56), Greece’s Anna Ntountounaki (25.65), Maaike de Waard of the Netherlands (25.75), and fellow Swede Sara Junevik (25.80) are expected to battle for the remaining spots on the podium. 

Even though Sjostrom is taking on her lightest Euros schedule in a decade (she only swam the 50 fly and 100 free in 2012) and hasn’t notched a long-course world record in five years, it’s dangerous to underestimate the greatest sprinter of all time. She’ll be back in the same pool where she had her first major international breakthrough in the 100 fly, hitting her first career world record in the semifinals on her way to gold at just 15 years old. 

“It feels good,” Sjostrom said of returning to Parco Del Foro Italico. “I have competed many times in that pool and I have good memories from there. It is always fun to come back to places where you have performed very well in the past.

“I enjoy life as an elite athlete and get to stand behind the podium when it matters,” she added. “That feeling is addictive. Then it’s a lot of fun with the trips you get to make with friends when you swim.”

Pool swimming action kicks off on Thursday, the beginning of a seven-day affair.

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1 year ago

The only event on the womens side I can see a faster winning time than commonwealth are the 50fly/free.

Reply to  John26
1 year ago

50 back/breast, 100 breast, 200 fly could all be faster than CG with Touissant, Pigree, Pilato and whoever will win in the 200 fly.

Reply to  John26
1 year ago

What about Top 3?

Reply to  John26
1 year ago

50 fly is guaranteed faster. 50 Free is a tossup (Emma was 0.01 slower than Sjostrom’s WC time, so SS will need to match or beat her WC time). Van Niekerk’s 100 breast was faster than any European woman this year, but they have some strong swimmers so conceivably that could be beaten. MacNeil’s 100 fly was fast but there are definitely European women capable of beating it. 200 fly is definitely beatable. As are the 50 back and 50 breast.

Look, if I had to guess, I would say European women beat Comms women in no more than 3 events. But realistically there are quite a few that theoretically could be faster.

1 year ago

Missing the 100’s to Focus on 50’s is a much different version of “skipping” than Dressel this summer

Curious swimmer
Reply to  Meathead
1 year ago

Still no news on how dressel is doing?

Go Kamminga Go
Reply to  Curious swimmer
1 year ago

I am still waiting

1 year ago

Well congrats to Mollie on the fastest 100 free of the year I guess

Go Kamminga Go
Reply to  Sub13
1 year ago

And second fastest in 200 free.

Not bad for an 18 yo girl.

Reply to  Go Kamminga Go
1 year ago

And two relay WRs

1 year ago

I wonder what relays they are? Obviously one will be the womens 4×1 mix, but I wonder if the other one will be a mixed relay instead of womens free.

1 year ago

Winning the 2009 Worlds in Rome in a World Record was huge, but she did win the 2008 Euro in the 100 Fly in Eindhoven, Netherlands at the age of 14 and I would say that was probably her international break through on the Senior level.

1 year ago

100 free field is even weaker without Sjostrom. Fastest European woman behind Sjostrom is Steenbergen with her 53.41 from Budapest.

Reply to  Troyy
1 year ago

Europeans are weak on women’s side in general. Only breaststroke has a stacked field.

Reply to  Tessa
1 year ago

Are you saying the Europeans are weak in women’s swimming or that this meet do not have a strong field?

Reply to  Troyy
1 year ago

Michelle Coleman from Sweden is skipping the meet, her 100 Free time was 53.0 in 2019 and she was part of the Swedish relays at 2021 Short Course Worlds including the 200 MR that tied the World Record.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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