Swimming World’s International Swim Coach of the Year: Carl Jenner, Coach of Sarah Sjostrom

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Photo Courtesy: Sarah Sjostrom (Instagram)

Almost nine years ago, Carl Jenner sent a talented 14-year-old swimmer to her first European Championships in Eindhoven. It was at that meet that Sarah Sjostrom kicked off her fruitful international career with—what else—a gold medal.

Sjostrom edged out a pair of swimmers far her elder—22-year-old Inge Dekker and 24-year-old Aurore Mongel—to win her first European championship in the 100 fly. Sjostrom failed to advance out of prelims in any event at her first Olympic Games that summer, but when she arrived in Rome for the World Championships next year, Sjostrom promptly broke her first world record and won her first world title.

Sjostrom broke Inge de Brujin’s nine-year-old world record of 56.61, clocking a 56.44 in the semifinals. A day later, she lowered that mark to 56.06 as she held off Jessicah Schipper (who was 22) for the gold medal.

Of course, the road would have its bumps, particularly in 2012, when Sjostrom missed out on any medals at the Olympics in London. She came in fourth in the 100 fly, less than a quarter-second off of the podium. She lost her 100 fly world record to Dana Vollmer, who won gold in 55.98. She did not make the finals of any of her freestyle events.

The years that followed were a steady build up to a Brazilian climax. Sjostrom won gold in the 100 fly and silver in the 100 free at the 2013 World Championships and then picked up five medals at the global showcase in Kazan in 2015.

At that meet, Sjostrom reclaimed her 100 fly world record (55.74 in the semifinals, 55.64 in the final) and also won gold in the 50 fly. She did not swim the 200 free but still clocked the fastest time in the world leading off Sweden’s 800 free relay.

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In Rio, Sjostrom was heavily favored for gold in the 100 fly, seeded almost a full second ahead of the field after the semifinals. When she did touch first, lowering her world record to 55.48 in the process, Sjostrom leaped out of the pool in pure joy.

“It feels amazing that I could have the race of my life when it really matters. It was very tough, and I had a lot of pressure for the race because I really, really wanted to win this race,” Sjostrom said. “I got my hands on the wall and realized I was the winner. Just so many emotions.”

In one of the best duels of the Games, Sjostrom went on to finish second to Katie Ledecky in the 200 free, and she picked up a bronze in the 100 free. She finished third in Swimming World’s Female World Swimmer of the Year voting for those efforts.

Jenner was by her side for each of those accomplishments. And for that, he earns our International Coach of the Year honor.

The two have since parted ways, with Sjostrom moving on to work with Johan Wallberg and Jenner beginning a new role with the Swedish Swimming Federation working with young swimmers.

“Sarah feels she needs to change in everyday life, and it feels like a good decision that will lead to even better results for Sarah,” Jenner said of the split.

It may be over now, but the duo’s decade-plus together produced simply incredible results.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

5 comments

  1. avatar
    Thorbjörn Holmberg

    Congratulations Carl!!

  2. avatar
    Markus Hunt

    I thought that there was a team of coaches surrounding Sarah? Andrei Vorontsov orchestrated Swedish swimmings best performance ever at a major championship in 2015 and never once put his hand up to take credit. Maybe because he perhaps saw it as “teamwork”
    There needed to be more research into this “opinion” piece. Jenner has coached one person by this rationale.
    Quick to stand up and take the credit when things are going well, yet Swedish Swimming yielded a poor performance at short course worlds just recently and nobody seems to be accountable?
    Verontzov like Salter before him are quickly pushed out, while one person keeps employment because they couldn’t possibly have a person like Carl Jenner, who has had such amazing success with one super talent, without a job. Meanwhile the majority of the Swedish team are either in Australia or training with the newly appointed national coach.

    Amazing what a few minutes of google can help a person discover.