Sarah Sjostrom Takes Third Straight 50 ‘Fly Crown & 8th World Title 10 Years To The Day Since Her 1st

Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden celebrates after winning in the women's 50m Butterfly Final during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 27 July 2019.
Sarah Sjostrom, of Sweden, celebrates her third straight victory in the 50 'fly - and her 8th world title on the day precisely 10 years after she claimed her first crown, over 100m butterfly, at Rome 2009- Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

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FINA World Swimming Championships (Sarah Sjostrom third straight victory) 

Gwangju 2019

Day Seven Finals (Women’s 50 Fly)

It took Sarah Sjostrom 30m to gather momentum, as Ranomi Kromowidjojo, the 2012 Dutch double Olympic freestyle sprint champion motored a touch ahead of her, but once the Swedish slip-streamer was on a head-down roll, there was no stopping her: a dominant 25.02 screamed from the scoreboard in celebration of her third straight victory in the ‘fly dash at world titles.

Kromowidjojo took silver in 25.35, the bronze to US-based Egyptian Farida Osman, in 25.47.

Sjostrom now has eight world titles to her name in all, on butterfly and freestyle, the first of her golden honors claimed this very day precisely 10 years ago, when she took the 100m butterfly crown at Rome 2009.

Within half an hour, Sjostrom was back in, hurtling towards lane 4 ion the 50m free final tomorrow, courtesy bob a 24.05sec blast in the second semi final as fastest qualifier.

“I just did four rounds in the diving pool, shake the lactate off a little bit and stepped behind the blocks again,” Sjostrom said. “I really enjoy doing back to back races, it’s working really well for me. Yesterday I had 100 free and then straight into the 50 fly and I did super fast time. I think it works for me a lot.”

In 2017, she claimed the title in 24.60, after the 24.96 it took for victory in 2015. Disappointing to be the slowest of the three? Hardly. No other woman had ever swum as fast as Sjostrom did today, compatriot Therese Alshammar, a former champion in the event, on 25.07 in a shiny suit back at Rome 2009.

Women’s 50 Fly Final Results:

1 SJOSTROM Sarah Sweden SWE 25.02
2 KROMOWIDJOJO Ranomi Netherlands NED 25.35
3 OSMAN Farida Egypt EGY 25.47
4 DAHLIA Kelsi United States of America USA 25.48 =AM
5 WATTEL Marie France FRA 25.50
6 OLEKSIAK Penny Canada CAN 25.69
7 OTTESEN Jeanette Denmark DEN 25.76
8 THROSSELL Brianna Australia AUS 26.11

Closest to Sjostrom in recent times is Japan’s Rikako Ikee, currently out of action while she is receiving treatment for leukaemia. When Sjostrom lost the 100m butterfly crown to Canadian Maggie MacNeil earlier this week, the medallists write Ikee’s name on the hands so that they could use the moment, the airwaves and newspapers to send Rikako their best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Told that this was the day 10 years ago when she claimed her first world title, Sjostrom said:

“That’s very cool. I’m very happy that I could win another gold medal especially after such a tough programme I’ve been having, I don’t think I ever had such a tough programme in a big championships like this before.”

Was 2019 on an emotional par with 2009?

“I think I feel the same. I think it’s similar. Maybe not. When I won my first world champs when I was younger I didn’t really understand what was going on and the process around it. It’s almost like you get used to it after a while, it’s bad. But it feels extra good after you have been winning two bronze and a silver medal; it feels extra good winning a gold medal.”

Sjostrom won her 15th World Championships medal, something she didn’t realize she achieved until it was pointed out to her.

“I never really look at these stats before I race. I’m just racing and enjoying competition.”

From The Archive – that 24.43, by Craig Lord, 2014 …

Sarah Sjostrom Storms To A Beamonesque 24.43 World Record 50 ‘Fly In Boras


Sarah Sjostrom – Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

They may have to check the measures on the pool in Boras after Sarah Sjostrom‘s latest blast at Swedish nationals: in 24.43, the 20-year-old raced half a second inside the world record over 50m butterfly that had stood to fellow Swedish sprinter Therese Alshammarsince a time of shiny suits in 2009.

If a 23.98 in the freestyle dash for a textile-suit world record and maiden 24-sec swim yesterday made history, then today’s stunner from the World 100m butterfly champion went beyond.

This was the most outstanding performance since the ban on shiny suits and followed a 25.23 world textile record by Sjostrom in heats. Sjostrom, a rapid rate of turnover noteworthy, did not take a breath in the race and nailed her finish. Some swims get close to as ‘perfect as possible’ – this was one of them. Sjostrom had taken four strokes before those in the lanes beside her had reached the third stroke out of the start. Flat and streamlined, Sjostrom redefined the dash on ‘fly.

If those in the same pool, Rebecka Palm, Linköpings Allmänna SS, closest on 26.78, found themselves racing in a different decade, then so, too, will the rest of the best in the world wonder at the challenge ahead.

Sjostrom, coached by Carl Jenner, is now a baffling 0.81sec faster down one lap than any other woman has ever travelled when not aided by a suit now banned. Sjostrom’s blast levelled the count shiny suit to textile on the chart of world records, 10 of the 20 long-course standards  dating back to 2008-09, 10 having been beaten since.

Watch the world record

Courtesy of SK Neptun’s video:

Brain-bending in magnitude, the off-the-chart time would have placed Sjostrom last in the men’s final at the French Open in Vichy within a second of the winner, World Champion Cesar Cielo. Inge Dekker, the former world champion from The Netherlands, won the 50m butterfly in Vichy today in 26.00. Only five women have dipped inside 26 so far this year, Dekker among them.

Sjostrom closed the day with a 55.73 100m butterfly split in the medley relayfor her club Södertörns Simsällskap, which took silver in 4:10.84 behind a 4:10.05 gold for a quartet from Spårvägen Simförening.

As Sjostrom put it herself in a tweet: “haha!! This day was sick!!!!! #saywhat #worldrecord”

The Stunning Sjostrom Statistics Of A Beamonesque Breaker

  • The time also ranks sixth best this year among all women over 50m freestyle, Sjostrom having covered the 50m butterfly a tiny fraction outside the Danish record of 24.40 established on freestyle by Jeanette Ottesen.
  • the time is also good enough to rank 15th on the all-time 50m freestyle ranks among women
  • the 25.07 at which the world record had stood is equivalent to 81st all-time 50m freestyle
  • the 25.24 at which Denmark’s Jeanette Ottesen had held the world textile mark until this morning is equivalent to 127th all-time 50m freestyle
  • the swim would have won the world 50m freestyle title at all championships 1986 to 2007 and would have been good for bronze in 2011 (forget 2009 shiny suits)
  • Sjostrom would have beaten herself doing freestyle last year: she was fourth in the 50m free at world titles in 24.45
  • the swim is just shy of the world short-course record of 24.38
  • the timewarp swim is almost the pace of the men’s world best time back in 1990 when Nils Rudolphclocked 24.39
  • Most world records for women today are at about the pace of men in the mid-1970s
  • The Swedish men’s record in 1994 was 24.27, then a world record for Jan Karlsson
  • Men from 26 nations have swum faster than Sjostrom this year, leaving more than 170 FINA members without a man to beat the Swedish sprinter
  • If Sjostrom’s morning swim represented a personal gain of 0.29, then the day brought a gain of 1.09sec for a 50m race. That is not reflected in the 56.50 she swam in the 100m butterfly two days ago: the time, the best in the world so far this year, in line with her previous best form and equivalent to the best among men in the 1960s.

What Sjostrom did down one lap today, the rate of turnover, the head-down, no-breathing blast of it all, is clearly not be something that can be replicated in the 100m. Dana Vollmer, on a world record of 55.98 for Olympic 100m gold, meanwhile, has a best of 25.80 down one lap, that clocked in Olympic year but not in the same conditions. Just how one-off Sjostrom’s swim is will only become clear from the European Championships in Berlin next month and at further meets down the line.

Sarah Sjostrom

Sarah Sjostrom – Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The 50m butterfly had a journey ahead for men back in 1990 a decade before stroke 50m races became a part of the men’s world-championship programme but even so, the narrowing of the gender gap is astonishing. The equivalent time-range swims would mean world records among women of the following magnitude, for example:

  • 100m free: 48.42
  • 400m free: 3:47.38
  • 1500m free: 14:54.76
  • 100 back: 54.51
  • 200m breast: 2:11.93
  • 100 ‘fly: 52.84
  • 200IM: 2:00.11

A giant stroke forward, then.

The advance is so great that it raises the need to have the pool measured and the timing system checked. Worth noting: in the final, six opt the eight swimmers set personal lifetime bests. Here are Sjostrom’s best 5 ever – a one lap race:

  1. 24.43 2014 Today
  2. 25.23 2014 Today
  3. 25.52 2014
  4. 25.53 2014
  5. 25.64 2012

Needless to say, the new World Record also blew to smithereens Alshammar’s Swedish record and the meet mark of 25.23 that Sjostrom established in heats this morning to set a World Textile Record 0.01sec inside Ottesen’s mark.

Sjostrom was 14 when she claimed her first European crown back in 2008 and 15 when she claimed the world title a year later. Though bumps and knocks along the way, her progress has been steady and consistent. Today altered the direction of that curve in one event in which she swam a pure sprint race in a manner that redefines how women race the ‘fly dash.

Hard for any other swim to pop its head above the water under such circumstances but Jennie Johansson, Simklubben Neptun, was out in 31.60 and home to a 1:07.54 victory in the 100m breaststroke and in the wake of a 54.34 win for Jesper Jonsson, Uddevalla Sim, in the 100m butterfly came a Swedish junior record of 54.40 for a man who leaves his teens behind this year, Oscar Ekström, Linköpings Allmänna SS.