Sarah Sjöström Lands Brace: On 1:54.8 200 Free and 25.1 ‘Fly Dash At Swedish Open

Sarah Sjostrom by Patrick B. Kraemer
Sarah Sjostrom by Patrick B. Kraemer

Double World butterfly champion Sarah Sjöström was on sizzling form on the opening day of the Swedish Open in Stockholm this afternoon, a 1:54.87 win in the 200m freestyle followed by another dominant victory, of 25.15, in the 50m butterfly

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Yozhik

So, there is no problem for Sarah Sjostrom to go under 1:55. She does it fourth time. Will be interesting to see how she swims 100 fs at this meet. It will give some idea about Sjostrom’s current form and how much father she can be expected at 200.

aswimfan

Sjostrom is simply outrageous. Those 50-200 swims are obscene.

John Svensson

Yozhik: She is tapered for this meet, at least a fair bit, so should be able to do good times in the 100s. She sounded excited for the 100 fly coming up, felt the start was missing today to do a really good 50 fly time(for her anyway).

Another thing was the two girls competing for that last relay spot both doing 2.00 in the 200(Marko-Varga and Gardell who PB’d). If Marko-Varga shaves off another second which is within her ballpark combined with Coleman’s improvements this season that could mean a 2½-3 second team improvement from Kazan. However, Hansson failed to do sub 2.00 today so that’s a bit of a worry about her form. Very early but fun to speculate.

Yozhik

If she swims under 53sec 100fs (some indication of tapering) then I will consider that 200 was still swum in the training mode. For some reason she doesn’t start this distance fast this season. What is that? New tactic at 200? Her second half was as fast as it was in Kazan but with more even splits 29.49-29.46 (29.67-29.13 in Kazan). It looks like she is strongly focusing on second half now not worrying much about fast start.

Yozhik

200m freestyle is not the only battle between Sjostrom and Ledecky that awaits us in Rio. The greatest and quite realistic thing that can happen at this Olympic games is four gold medals for Sjostrom or Ledecky. Sjostrom – 50,100,200 freestyle,100 fly. Ledecky – 800,400,200, 4×200. If both swimmers happen to be successful then 200m freestyle race between them will decide who is the best athlete of OG. Both swimmers can get extra medal: Sjostrom at 4×200 and Ledecky at 4×100 freestyle. If Ledecky is very successful at 100 freestyle at trials winning it then she may count for one more medal at 4x100IM.
So far Sjostrom looks very determined and steadily improves. Ledecky not only surprised with sprinting speed at 100 but has made a statement that she is hoping to be much faster at 100 than she was in Austin. It is very unusual for her and her coach to reveal their plans and targets. Something very spectacular waits for us at 200m freestyle in Rio. There is also a group of several great swimmers that are quiet so far but can put another log on the fire making this race even hotter.

aswimfan

If it comes to it, I (and I’m sure also most of swimming followers) would take four golds in 50,100,200 freestyle,100 fly above 800,400,200, 4×200.

Why?
1. Individual gold precedes relay gold. Always.
2. No one in Olympics history has done 50-100-200 golds, and no woman in Olympics history has even medaled in 50-100-200. 200/400/800 golds has been done.

Yozhik

You didn’t get it asf. It can be either 100 fly, 50-100-200 vs 400-800-4×200 (Sjostrom wins).
Or 100 fly, 50-100 vs 200-400-800-4×200 (Ledecky wins since I think that relay gold values more than individual silver)
That’s why I called 200 race decisive for medal count.

ThereaLuigi

Behold that rare beast, capable of world-leading short sprints and mid-distance races.

Fast-twitch, raw speed coupled with endurance. There is nobody like her in swimming right now.

aswimfan

The problem with valuing relay gold more than individual silver is that it gives enormous and often insurmountable advantage to the swimmers from most powerful swimming countries.

In your scenario above, put Sjostrom in USA team, and not only she would win those individual golds but also at least two relay golds (4×2 and 4x1med).
Another advantage, top swimmers from powerful swimming countries never have to swim in any relay prelims, while the likes of Sjostrom will have to swim in ALL relays prelims.

aswimfan

I personally usually use relay medals as tie-breaker only if individual achievements are the same/equal.

commonwombat

Certainly a very clear 200free “marker” laid down by Sjostrom to the Americans and any other potential contenders. Just what she IS capable of at this distance remains unclear but this is already territory “foreign” to all but a few.

Her 100free time WILL be very interesting to see. One suspects a similar “marker” may be laid down for the Campbells to respond to over the next 2 weeks.

Not particularly wanting to buy into the relative merits of individual v relay gold/medals except to say that those from the “major powers” have a colossal advantage with regards to racking up the relay medals. Whilst the competition for selection may be fiercer, top seeds often have the luxury of being rested from heats and 2nd seeds can collect medals for their heat swims.

Yozhik

@ThereaLuigi. You may find the following interesting.
“Fiber Type and Performance
Our muscle fiber type may influence what sports we are naturally good at or whether we are fast or strong. Olympic athletes tend to fall into sports that match their genetic makeup. Olympic sprinters have been shown to possess about 80 percent fast twitch fibers, while those who excel in marathons tend to have 80 percent slow twitch fibers.

Can Training Change Fiber Type?
This is not entirely understood, and research is still looking at that question. There is some evidence showing that human skeletal muscle may switch fiber types from “fast” to “slow” due to training. ”

From fast to slow, not in the opposite direction. If this is correct, then ‘Ledecky’ phenomenon is biologically more rare than ‘Sjostrom’ one.

Yozhik

@asf. I understand your point about relay inequality between big and small countries. That relay medals should be excluded from calculations of “who is greater”.
But in this particular situation we are talking about 4×200 relay where Sweden is a contender and both Ledecky and Sjostrom are equally decisive factors. The difference may be observed in fourth leg only. If relay leader doesn’t perform at Olympic level it may cost gold medal.
I will keep this medal in equation.

Yozhik

Can’t wait to see if Sjostrom breaks 1:54 and Ledecky goes 53 flat. If it happens then we will witness something extremely unique.
So unique that I don’t believe it can happen 🙂

aswimfan

Yozhik,

Keeping the 4×200 medal in equation for comparison between Ledecky and Sjostrom’s achievements is only fair IF both USA and Sweden has equal chance to winning 4×200.

The hard cold fact of the matter: no, their chances are not equal. And you know it too.

USA winning w4x200 is the most certain of all relay predictions.

aswimfan

In Kazan, Sjostrom swam more 1.5 seconds faster (counting flat/rolling start) than Ledecky in 4×200 and yet Sjostrom went home without 4×200 medal while Ledecky got gold.

That’s how unfair it is taking into account relay medal into comparison.

Even if Sjostrom swim 1:52 in Rio 4×200 and Ledecky only swim 1:55, Sweden will not beat USA in 4×200.

ThereaLuigi

55,68 in the 100 Fly. Great God!

Yozhik, I dont think Ledecky was ever slow. She just kept spinning her wheels in the shorter races, so to speak. She has now found rhythm. But she will never be a serious contender in any 50 or 100.

Yozhik

Asf, if I bet your money ( 🙂 ) of course I will put it on USA team. But in Kazan it was not that obvious when in the middle of third leg Sweden led the race by two body length. To much even for Ledecky to compensate. And then of course Sweden ‘ankor’ made this team stand still.
BTW, the Sweden team was slower in Kazan than year before in Berlin. Interesting to note that the rest of the Sweden team was faster but Sjostrom was slower. Should she perform at least that good there would be a medal for Sweden. All that was said to underline that performance of the leader does make a difference and that small country can be contenders in relay competition.
We do expect something spectacular from American team in this relay, but as of now only Ledecky is up to expectations. At the same time Sjostrom and Coleman on Sweden side are looking very good.

Yozhik

Luigi, the word ‘contender’ is very misleading in the context of this discussion. Should Pelligrini and Schmitt were at their best nobody would even mention Sjostrom’s name. Same way as we are not paying much attention now talking about Sjostrom’s 4:06 at 400. But if one gives some efforts to think about it he will surprisingly find out that that is one of the most shocking phenomenon in swimming – under 24sec at 50m and being able not only finish 400 but do it at 4:06.
Ledecky shocks me in completely opposite manner. How is it possible to be ranked within 30 best ever sprinters at 100 freestyle and at the same time to be ranked at 50m by four digit number?

Yozhik

*Sweden anchor

aswimfan

Yozhik,

As I have shown, Sjostrom was a great leader in Kazan and swam 1:54.3 and yet came home without any 4×200 medal, while Ledecky swam 1.5 seconds slower and came home with the relay gold. If you think that’s fair to be used as part of equation to compare achievements, be my guess.

You can twist any facts you like to support your argument, but I think everyone can see the truth.

aswimfan

So, using Yozhik’s formula that relay gold > individual silver,

In Kazan, Qiu Yuhan achieved greater accomplishment than Maya Dirado.

That’s right. Qiu who?

Yozhik

yes, aswimfan. Ledecky did what race required from her to win medal. If more were needed I am sure she would deliver. Sjostrom on the other hand was not at her best. I think it would be more efficient should she swam third or fourth legs like Ledecky and Pelligrini and to be up to the race situation and intensity. But in this case there would be no personal best registered. As a result Ledecky and Pelligrini ended up with the medals and Sjostrom empty handed. We are talking in this discussion about medals not times. That is actual racing. The Kazan race is actually a good example when relay medal should count. For Pelligrini for sure. ‘ Everybody sees it ‘ 🙂 how can you be so blind.

aswimfan

Yozhik,

Now you are claiming that Sjostrom was not at her best in that Kazan 4×200?
Despite her crushing her PB?
And Ledecky’s slower than her individual swim was greater leader?

I know that you enjoy twisting facts to not lose an argument, but this is outrageous.

Sjostrom swam all relays prelims. Ledecky didn’t even swim in 4×200 prelims. And Ledecky was a greater leader?
Sjostrom swam her relay swims as fast as or faster than her individual swims, and she was not a great leader?

As I said earlier, even if Sjostrom swam 1:52 in that Kazan 4×200, they would not have beaten USA anyway.
And now you are blaming the strategy of placing Sjostrom as the lead off on her? How did you know she made that decision? And how do you know that placing Sjostrom on any other leg would have ensured Sweden winning gold?
All you are saying are conjectures, and a super ridiculous ones at that.

We all know that you love your Ledecky, but she is already a legend and doesn’t need your ridiculous facts twisting to support her as one of greatest swimmers ever.

And please answer my question,
Do you really think that Qiu Yuhan was a greater swimmer than Maya Dorado in Kazan?

Yozhik

JFAI (Just For Aswimfan’s Information).
European championship 2014, Berlin
W4x200
Sweden – 7:51.03
Sjostrom (third leg) 1:53.64 RT- 0.32

16th World Championships 2015, Kazan
W4x200
Sweden – 7:50.24
Sjostrom (first leg) 1:54.31RT – 0.69

You can interpret this data any way you want. My interpretation was given in details in preceeding comments. Briefly that is: Despite Sjostrom was slower, the rest of the team helped making final result better than it was in Berlin. I also suggest that Sjostrom’s slowdown can be the result of swimming her leg out of competition without having strong motivation of moving target. My knowledge of psychology of relay race makes me to believe that this hypothesis has all rights for existence. Why did she swim leading leg? One of the possible assumption is to help Sjostrom to make a statement that should she choose she could be easily the World Champion. How much this assumption is accurate I don’t know. But my nasty nature tells me that this race was more about Sjostrom than Sweden team. ( please don’t comment on this last statement. You have already said a lot of nice words about me. Next time try to operate with numbers but not with personal characterizations).

aswimfan

JFYO (just for yozhik only),

why are moving the goalposts?

The goalposts were:
1. You stated that relay gold is greater than an individual silver
2. I argued that an individual medal is greater than a relay gold.

But now you are saying that Sjostrom was at fault for not doing the individual 200 free in Kazan.
eh?
It seems you have taken it very personally that Sjostrom did not swim the individual 200 free. We’ve seen it in your previous posts.\
Facts:
1. Ledecky is the 200 free world champion
2. Sjostrom is not.

Please do not convoluted the argument.

Facts:
1. USA won 4×200 in 7:45.37
2. Sweden was fourth in 7:50.24

You placed the responsibility of Sweden not winning 4×200 on Sjostrom. So, for Sweden to have won 4×200 in Kazan, she should have swum 5 seconds faster than she did, meaning that it is in your opinion that Sjostrom should have swum 1:49.31 to show some leadership and helped Sweden win 4×200.

If it is not nuts, I don’t know what is.

aswimfan

And since you stated that relay gold is greater than individual silver,

This means you absolutely agree that:
Qiu Yuhan was a greater swimmer than Maya Dirado, Ruta Meilutyte, Sharon van Rouwendahl, Jaz Carlin, Micah Lawrence and Camille Adams in Kazan.

Right?

Yozhik

@asf. It could be that Swedish coach designed the best strategy possible. But it looks like nobody cared about feelings ‘2:00,8’ Swedish girl who started the final leg in leading position to find herself well behind Ledecky, Pelligrini and Shen Duo. Why not to let Sjostrom to be at the end of the pack and try to save the race. Pellegrini did it.

Yozhik

@asf. From my early childhood I was always wondering how can possibly the people on the other side of the Earth to think rationally if they are walking upside down. You are probably thinking same thing about me 🙂 Wish me good night and I will wish you good day. You see, even the day time is not right at your place 🙂 No wonder you don’t accept the single point I made. 🙂

aswimfan

Yozhik,

With the new strategy in Kazan, Sweden went almost a second faster than their European champs title. Whether Sjostrom was placed as lead off, in the middle or anchor, it does not matter, Sweden would not have medaled in Kazan.

If you care so much about how Ida Marko Varga felt (who, by the way, was given so much fighting chance by Sjostrom who swam PB), then you need to have taken it up with the Swedish coaches, and not with Sjostrom.
Or you could persuade USA and Sweden to trade Ida Marko Varga for Missy Franklin. That would make Rio w4x200 much more interesting.

aswimfan

Yozhik,

I accept your points when they have any relevance to the argument/discussion at hand. But you didn’t even answer my question even though I have asked it multiple times:

Is Qiu Yuhan a greater swimmer than Maya Dirado, Ruta Meilutyte, Sharon van Rouwendahl, Jaz Carlin, Micah Lawrence and Camille Adams in Kazan?

aswimfan

By the way,
Had Sarah been a USA citizen, she could conceivably leave Rio with three relay golds. Not just one.

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