Sjostrom The Dashing Queen Of Sprint Swimming: 5th 50 Fly Title Followed By 23.61 World Record 50 Free 12 Minutes Later

2023-07-29 Reading Time: 6 minutes
sJOSTROM (SJOESTROEM) of Sweden celebrates after winning in the Women’s 50m Butterfly Final during the swimming events of the 20th World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, Saturday, July 29, 2023. (Photo by Patrick B. Kraemer / MAGICPBK)
Sarah Sjostrom celebrates a straight fifth World title in the 50m butterfly at the Fukuoka 2023 showcase in July (Photo by Patrick B. Kraemer / MAGICPBK)

Sarah Sjostrom claimed a record fifth straight global long-course crown the ‘fly dash at the Marine Messe in Fukuoka today with a crushing 24.77sec, a warm-up for her lifting the title of All-Time Dashing Queen of the pool with a 23.61 World record in the second semi of the 50m freestyle just 12 minutes later.

The Swedish ace had held the freestyle mark at 23.71 since 2017 but buoyed by the delight off drawing level with Michael Phelps at the top of the all-time medals pile on 20 solo-event podiums at World Championships, Sjostrom skimmed the surface of her element ion her way to pioneering speed on freestyle.

Today’s ‘fly victory was the second-fastest of her five wins: 24.96, 2015; 24.60, 2017; 25.02, 2019; 24.95, 2023, 24.77, 2023. No other woman has ever swum as fast as any of those wins, China’s Zhang Yufei taking silver for China in 25.05, the second-fastest all-time 0.02sec ahead of Sweden’s other great sprinter, Therese Alshammar. American Gretchen Walsh took bronze in 25.46.

Sjostrom’s 27.77, the fifth best performance ever on a list topped by her stunning 24.43 World record from 2014 (see archive below), extended her number of the best blasts in history over 50m butterfly to 22 for 0.28sec, Zhang’s silver ranking her 20th all-time on the performances list behind Sjostrom’s finest 19.

The Races:

50m free – 23.61 World record:

50m Butterfly Gold – 24.77

The Result: (50 ‘fly) (and… 50 free semis)

The Longevity & Perseverance Of Sjostrom

Sjostrom’s longevity and perseverance is a wonder of the world of swimming. In 2021, her Olympic goals were on thin ice after she’d spent a few months in rehab following surgery on an elbow forced by a fall on the snow in the depth of a Swedish winter. Dashed were any hopes of retaining the 100m butterfly crown claimed in Rio as the first Swedish woman to claim Olympic gold in the pool but in Tokyo, Sjostrom soared to silver in the 50m freestyle despite all that had come to pass.

The 29-year-old Swedish ace who claimed her first European title over 100m at 14 back in 2008, has now helped her nation, along with Therese Alshammar (1g, 2007, 2s, 1b) and Anna-Karin Kammerling (1s, 2b) , dominate the all-time medals table in the 50m butterfly: 12 medals, 6 of them gold since the 50m strokes were added to the World Championships program in 2001.

From The SOS Archive: July 5, 2014

Sarah Sjostrom Storms To Beamonesque 24.43 World Record In 50 Butterfly In Boras

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 Alshammar since 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 SK Neptun:

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 CieloInge 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 relay for 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:

Sarah Sjostrom – by Patrick B. Kraemer

“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 Rudolph clocked 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.

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.

SJOSTROM (SJOESTROEM) of Sweden is pictured during a training session 1 day prior to the start of the 19th LEN European Short Course Swimming Championships held at the Royal Arena in Copenhagen, Denmark
Sarah Sjostroim – Photo by Patrick B. Kraemer

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.

The all-time top 10, all suits (as at July 5, 2014):

  1. 24.43 Sjostrom, Sarah, SWE LCM2014
  2. 25.07 Alshammar, Therese, SWE LCM2009
  3. 25.24 Ottesen, Jeanette, DEN LCM2013
  4. 25.28 Veldhuis, Marleen, NED LCM2009
  5. 25.42 Lu, Ying, CHN LCM2013
  6. 25.48 D’Cruz (n. Guehrer), Marieke, AUS LCM2009
  7. 25.50 Dekker, Inge, NED LCM2014
  8. 25.50 Torres, Dara, USA LCM2009
  9. 25.53 Snildal, Ingvild, NOR LCM2009
  10. 25.53 Kromowidjojo, Ranomi, NED LCM2013

The all-time top 10, textile (as at July 5, 2014)

  1. 24.43 Sjostrom, Sarah, SWE LCM2014
  2. 25.24 Ottesen, Jeanette, DEN LCM2013
  3. 25.37 Alshammar, Therese, SWE LCM2011
  4. 25.42 Lu, Ying, CHN LCM2013
  5. 25.50 Dekker, Inge, NED LCM2014
  6. 25.53 Kromowidjojo, Ranomi, NED LCM2013
  7. 25.57 Kammerling, Anna-Karin, SWE LCM2002
  8. 25.64 de Bruijn, Inge, NED LCM2000
  9. 25.69 Halsall, Francesca, GBR LCM2013
  10. 25.78 Coutts, Alicia, AUS LCM2013

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.


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