Sarah Sjostrom: Full Recovery Will Take At Least Three Months Following Elbow Surgery

Sarah Sjostrom (photo: Mike Lewis)
Photo Courtesy: MIKE LEWIS / ISL

Sarah Sjostrom has undergone successful surgery for a broken elbow although national team doctor Rene Tour warned that a full recovery may take at least three months putting her Olympic 100 fly defence in doubt.

The Swede sustained the injury to her right elbow when she slipped on ice on her way to Reimersholme, south of Stockholm, on Saturday and she was quickly transported to hospital where the fracture was diagnosed.

On Monday she was operated on at Sankt Göran Hospital during which screws and a metal plate were inserted.

Tour spoke to reporters at a virtual press conference, saying:

“What happened today is that Sarah had surgery on her elbow and according to the reports, everything has gone very well.

“When performing an operation like this, you can choose to be awake or to put the patient to sleep.

“In this case, she has chosen to sleep under general anesthesia. X-rays afterwards are good.”


Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu / ISL

The eight-time world champion was in good spirits following the operation and will stay in hospital overnight.

Tour added:

 “As soon as she leaves the hospital, she enters phase two. Then she should get started as usual with her arm.

“She is not in plaster in any way and has full mobility in her arm. It will certainly hurt a lot for the first few days. She is allowed to move and must move her arm.

“She will return to the hospital in three weeks and remove the stitches. Then you check so everything looks good.”

While Tour believes Sjostrom will be able to return to the water to do some kicking after three weeks, he warned that she may not be able to resume full training for three months or more, saying:

“The rehabilitation itself begins in principle when Sarah no longer thinks she is in pain.

“The actual maximum load on the arm, it starts in three months.”

While the 27-year-old has already been selected for Tokyo, the Games open in 165 days, which begs the question of whether she can be in the sort of condition she will need to be to repeat her three-medal haul of Rio 2016.

Of whether she can be in such shape, Tour said:

“I and everyone around Sarah in the team must have that goal.

“I also said yesterday that if there is anyone who can fix it, with the mental strength she has, it’s Sarah.

“It is important to regain maximum muscle strength. We are hopeful, all around Sarah.”


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Of whether Sjostrom will be ready for the Olympics, he said:

“The question is of course extremely difficult to answer at the moment.

“It is not an optimal timing at the moment.

“The elbow affects the arm, one of the most important parts of her work, but the elbow joint is in place and stably fixed.

“Now it is important that the rehabilitation takes place successfully. We are very hopeful and it is of course the goal that she will return to the level she deserves.”

He added:

“The problem with Sarah is to hold her back so she does not rush to rehabilitation. It will be a challenge to keep her in check.”

Support For Sjostrom From Fellow Sisters Of The Water

Rikako Ikee, the six-time 2018 Asian Games champion, reciprocated the message sent by Sjostrom, Maggie MacNeil and Emma McKeon as she underwent treatment for leukemia in 2019.

The trio – who made up the 100 fly podium with MacNeil atop at the worlds in Gwangju – posed for pictures with palms outstretched and the words “Never Give Up Rikako Ikee”.

Ikee, who finished second in the 50 free at the Japan Open on Sunday, returned the gesture on social media.



Emma McKeon, Maggie McNeil, Sarah Sjostrom – ‘fly aces send heartfelt wishes and pay tribute to the absent Rikako Ikee on the podium at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju – Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

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