2019 FINA World Championships Predictions: Sarah Sjostrom Aims For Unprecedented Fifth World Title in 100 Fly

Swedish ace Sarah Sjostrom. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom is one of just two women to win the same event at the World Championships on four separate occasions. Sjostrom and Katinka Hosszu have each won their respective World titles in the 100 fly and 400 IM at the 2009, 2013, 2015 and 2017 Worlds. If Sjostrom can win the 100 fly again in Gwangju this month, she will be the first woman to win the same event five times.

The 25-year-old’s pioneering started way back in 2008, just 14, she claimed European gold in the 100m butterfly in Eindhoven. Now, 11 years on, she holds the best 11 two-lap efforts ever and 15 of the best 20, an all-time list topped by the 55.48sec world record she set when becoming the first Swedish woman to claim Olympic gold in the pool at Rio 2016.

Sjostrom was expected to be challenged this year by Japan’s Rikako Ikee, who had the fastest time out of any of the major international meets last year with a 56.08 at Pan Pacs. Ikee was faster than Sjostrom’s 56.23 at Europeans in 2018 and was expected to make a run at Sjostrom’s streak. But the Japanese superstar was diagnosed with Leukemia this year and will not be competing at the World Championships.

Even without Ikee, Sjostrom will still have some formidable challengers. Australia’s Emma McKeon is having a strong year as she sits second in the world for 2019 at 56.85. McKeon, who has cited the rise of Ariana Titmus as a key factor in her own return to best form this year, and Sjostrom are the only two to have been under 57 this year as the Swede was a 56.42 at the FINA Champions Series in Indianapolis.

Canada’s Maggie MacNeil, who finished a stellar freshman season at the University of Michigan, is third in the world with a 57.04 from April’s Canadian Trials. MacNeil was second at NCAAs in the 100 fly behind Louise Hansson, who currently sits fourth in the world. Hansson, who has the fastest time ever in yards, has finally translated her short course success to long course as she was a 57.35 at the same Canadian Trials in April. Hansson, who represents Sweden, could be in line for her first individual medal on the world stage.

USA’s Kelsi Dahlia, who won the bronze medal in Budapest two years ago at Worlds behind Sjostrom and McKeon, will also be a big factor. Dahlia currently sits sixth in the world rankings but has not had a rest meet like MacNeil and Hansson had in April. Dahlia has been a 56 each of the last three seasons, and is showing no signs that she won’t repeat that this year.

A dark horse in this event is Anastasiya Shkurdai of Belarus, who was a very quick 57.39 at the European Juniors earlier this month. The 16-year-old has had a rapid rise to the top and has been a 57 three times this year already.

Current Records:

World Record: 55.48, Sarah Sjostrom SWE – 2016
Championships Record: 55.53, Sarah Sjostrom, SWE – 2017
American Record: 55.98, Dana Vollmer – 2012

2017 World Champion: Sarah Sjostrom, SWE, 55.53
2018 Virtual World Champion: Rikako Ikee, JPN, 56.08 (Pan Pacs)
2019 Fastest Times:

  1. 56.42, Sarah Sjostrom, SWE
  2. 56.85, Emma McKeon, AUS
  3. 57.04, Maggie MacNeil, CAN
  4. 57.35, Louise Hansson, SWE
  5. 57.39, Anatasiya Shkurdai, BLR
  6. 57.45, Kelsi Dahlia, USA
  7. 57.50, Ilaria Bianchi, ITA
  8. 57.52, Brianna Throssell, AUS

Swimming World’s team of Andy RossDan D’AddonaDavid RiederDiana Pimer and Taylor Covington will be selecting their medalists for the World Championships in each event. Read below who everybody picked.

Andy’s Picks:

  1. Sarah Sjostrom
  2. Emma McKeon
  3. Kelsi Dahlia

Dan’s Picks:

  1. Sarah Sjostrom
  2. Emma McKeon
  3. Louise Hansson

David’s Picks:

  1. Sarah Sjostrom
  2. Kelsi Dahlia
  3. Louise Hansson

Diana’s Picks:

  1. Sarah Sjostrom
  2. Emma McKeon
  3. Kelsi Dahlia

Taylor’s Picks:

  1. Sarah Sjostrom
  2. Kelsi Dahlia
  3. Emma McKeon

Read Up on Previous Picks:

Day 1:


  1. avatar
    Peter R

    “If Sjostrom can win the 100 fly again in Gwangju this month, she will be the first swimmer – male or female – to win the same event five times.”

    How about Phelps and the 200 butterfly?

    • avatar
      Andy Ross

      This was pointed out in another article. Thanks for the reminder!