Sarah Sjostrom Explains Her Early Relationship With Swimming, ‘I Used to Hide in the Showers’

Sarah Sjostrom readies herself for the 50 butterfly final at the 2019 Worlds - Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

27-year-old Sarah Sjostrom is one of the most successful swimmers still competing today. At the 2019 World Championships, she was the female swimmer of the meet after a gold in the 50 fly, silver in the 50 free and 100 fly, and bronze in the 200 & 100 free, and became the first woman to have won five medals in individual events at a single world championships.

She currently holds the world record in the 50 & 100 butterfly as well as the 50 & 100 freestyle in long course meters as she is the reigning Olympic champion in the 100 butterfly, where she became the first Swedish woman swimmer to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games.

Sarah Sjostrom has been among the world’s elite since she was 14 when she was European Champion in the 100 butterfly in 2008, and also broke her first world record in 2009 at age 15 in becoming World champion. But although she has been one of the top butterflyers in the world for over ten years, she hasn’t always been fond of the water, as indicated in a recent interview with the Olympic Channel.

Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden celebrates after setting a new world record in the women's 100m butterfly final at the World Championships in Rome July 27, 2009. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (ITALY SPORT SWIMMING IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Sarah Sjostrom celebrating a world record in 2009. Photo Courtesy: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (Swimming World Archive)

She started swimming at age nine, because she wanted to spend more time with a friend who had just signed up for a swimming club. She was a regular in soccer and handball, and when she transitioned to the pool she didn’t like it at first.

“When I first started, I didn’t like swimming. I hated getting water in my goggles. I didn’t like being cold, so I used to hide in the showers!” Sarah Sjostrom explained to the Olympic Channel.

But Sjostrom has gotten over her disdain for the water, becoming one of the best swimmers on the entire planet. She has won world swimmer of the year by this publication once in 2017, and was also the European swimmer of the year three times in 2015, 2017 and 2018. Moving ahead to the Tokyo Olympics, she is a medal favorite in the 50, 100 & 200 freestyle and the 100 butterfly, where she is the reigning champion. To this day, no woman has successfully defended the 100 butterfly Olympic crown.

“I know what’s waiting for me there,” she told “Tokyo is one of my favourite cities, and I know I’ll have a good time no matter what happens. I think I have trained a lot and I have faith in the work I have done. I hope the results will come with it.”

Profile on Sarah Sjostrom done in 2011:

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