European Championships: Sarah Sjostrom Collects Fifth Career Gold Medal in 50 Butterfly; No. 10 All-Time Mark

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European Championships: Sarah Sjostrom Collects Fifth Career Gold Medal in 50 Butterfly; No. 10 All-Time Mark

Of all the events on the women’s program at the European Championships, the 50-meter butterfly can be argued as the most predictable. Anything but Sarah Sjostrom standing on top of the podium could not be envisioned, given Sjostrom’s long-term dominance over one lap.

Unsurprisingly, Sjostrom blasted the field at the Foro Italico in Rome, as she clocked 24.96 and earned her fifth European title in the event. The Swede’s latest gold medal complements her four straight from 2012-2018. Sjostrom did not compete at the 2021 edition of the meet, as she prepared for the Olympic Games in Tokyo and continued to recover from a broken elbow.

Sjostrom was followed for the silver medal by France’s Marie Wattel, who touched the wall in 25.33, while the Netherlands’ Maaike de Waard picked up bronze in 25.62.

The latest outing by the 28-year-old is tied for the 10th-fastest of all-time, and Sjostrom now owns the 18-swiftest performances in history. She is the only athlete to crack the 25-second barrier in the event, with her world record sitting at 24.43 from the 2014 season. Sjostrom’s gold also marked the 85th international medal of her career.

“I’m happy with my time. To go under 25 (seconds) is always a great feeling,” Sjostrom said. “It’s simply amazing to race in front of this great crowd. I love this atmosphere. I made an all-in and tried to go as fast as possible and I feel lucky to enjoy the support of the Italians fans. I’ve brought here my best when it counts most in this summer and I’m very proud of that. I was improving race by race in this event, all the way to the final.”

The dominance Sjostrom has displayed in the 50 butterfly is akin to what Great Britain’s Adam Peaty has shown in the 100 breaststroke, and what American Katie Ledecky has done in the 800 freestyle and 1500 freestyle. Peaty and Ledecky also have more than 10 of the fastest times in their respective events.

Having competed earlier in the summer at the World Championships, Sjostrom opted to adopt a light schedule for the European Championships and focus on just the sprints. For those concerned that the Swede might permanently follow that plan, fear not. Sjostrom indicated she will return to the 100 freestyle on the road to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. The question is whether she will also pursue the 100 butterfly.

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