Sarah Sjostrom Takes Helm Of World 200m Free Ranks In 1:54.34, Ledecky & Rio Rising

Sarah Sjostrom by Patrick B. Kraemer

Sarah Sjostrom and a 1:54.34 victory at Swedish nationals this afternoon in Norrköping reminded her rivals that the 200m freestyle has joined her list of ambitions for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

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Hopefully w200 free will turn out as much as fireworks as it is promising to be. May all Swimmers be healthy and peaking in Rio!


Brilliant for Sjostrom!

A shame that Hansson is clearly not in the form of the last couple of years, particularly given Marko-Varga’s improvements.

Sweden remain an outside shot for relay medals, but they are a second down on Australia in the 4×2 on SBs.

John Liu

Is this event really as open as the number of big hitters in the race suggests- or is it in reality actually just 3 women vying for top honors. I don’t think Sjostrom has ever stopped being the favorite since her WC swim last summer. There’s nothing from Ledecky that suggests she can take her PB down more notches.

Bad Anon

It will be a good race in Rio…. We may have 3 swimmers going 1.54 though i doubt anyone will break 1.54…. Hemskerk and Franklin will be dark horses, this season alone Sjostrom, Pellegrini and Ledecky have been 1.54… Franklin and Hemskerk have also been 1.54 in this Olympic cycle, Emma McKeon too…
Whether or not it’ll live up to the hype of the mens equivalent in Athens 2004 is yet to be seen…


My heart is with Federica, but my pick is Ledecky, if for no other reason because she will kill herself before she gets beaten to the wall in the last lap.

Bad Anon

Ledecky will go out hard and hang in there… Worried Sjostrom maybe slower in Rio because of fast prelims and semis… 1.57high for a semi final spot and 1.56.50 +/- 0.15 to make the final… “You got a lane, you got a chance” will definitely apply in that race!


Danm it! Nobody wants to give up 🙂 Now Sjostrom looks the favorite again. Ledecky’s 1:54.43 is six months old without any hints of further progress. Pellegrini unexpectedly made a huge jump to 1:54.55 and nobody knows what will follow next: staying at the same level, bouncing back or making even stronger move. What McKeon is thinking about is a great puzzle. That is the place of making responsible bets now where we have four practically equal strong candidates for three places at the podium. The swing from gold to nothing is of high probability.
The scariest part of Sjostrom’s recent race wasn’t the time by itself but her splits. They are negative. At 200!! Is it the plan to race this way in Rio? Or it’s happened accidentally at the more like practice meet. Same way as it was with Heemskerk last year in April when she splitted negatively 1:54.6. If Sjostrom is going to race this way it will require steel nerves. Not having advantage over such racers like Pellegrini and Ledecky or trailing a body length to McKeon after first half of the distance is a dangerous game. Heemskerk didn’t do it and was sprinting in the final from the start but miserably failed at the end with 1:56

Kazan: (1:54.31) 26.72 – 28.79 – 29.67 – 29.13
Recent: (1:54.34) 27.11 – 29.45 – 28.89 – 28.89

P.S. isn’t the Swedish record 1:54.31 made by Sjostrom last year in Kazan? If so the she was short by 0.03sec, but not 0.01 as mentioned in the article.

Craig Lord

Quite so, Yozhik, 0.03sec it is.
Negative split, however, it is not – an attempt to try something it may have been… and all such plans speak to what the rest beyond the world champion have to do to cope with a swimmer who is highly dangerous whether the race goes out hard and fast or not. I think the Rio race will be a different one to that we saw today for any swimmer who wants gold… fascinating…

Craig Lord

John L, no, I don’t think only a race of 3, nor do I think ‘Sjostrom the favourite’ – ‘among…’, yes, ‘the’, no. The test ahead is a first test over 200 free in one way: she must stack all cards under pressure at that speed in a lane next to the likes of Ledecky and Pellegrini. There’s no predicting the speed – Rio test event was not particularly fast relative to those swimming – we must wait to see whether that’s relevant or not… but what we do know is that the 200m free crown has been won both ends of the spectrum: speed ahead of expectation as victor and relatively slow’ races in which a champion emerges from the ranks of ‘possible medallist’, not a clear favourite. I don’t agree on Ledecky when you say there’s nothing to suggest she can take her PB down. I think she probably can…


I agree that this race of Sjostrom proves only that she is still a contender. It cannot be used as a benchmark suggesting that if it was not a typical start by Sjostrom then plenty of not utilized resources left. Look how casually Ledecky made 8:10.9 thinking that she was about 8:20. But when she tried hard starting very fast she ended up practically with the same time. The 200 is the distance too short to swim it following your own race plan and not paying attention to what is going on in the pool. Yes, you may know that you are capable of 1:54.2 if you swim it the most suitable way. But you don’t know what has in mind the girl next to you who was slower than you yesterday at the end but today is pushing much ahead in the middle of the distance. I agree with Craig that the race will start from the very beginning and Sjostrom’s abilities at such type of racing were not confirmed yesterday.
On the other hand the strong discipline during the race can be a key to success. I think that should Adlngton not chasing Ledecky with world record pace at 4:04 and followed her plan in London she would end up with the silver medal and very respectable time.
Ledecky and especially Pellegrini have a proven record of being patient and not panicking during the race. Unless there is some information that at practice Sjostrom can sprint at 1:54 flat I will think that Ledecky and Pellegrini have tactical advantage over Sjostrom that can be the crucial to this race.

Blah Blah

Ledecky is still the favorite in my book. She gets faster and faster by the minute it seems and while the others can sprint faster than her in theory, back half speed in a race situation is more valuable.


A new development in the trials about Ledecky’s races is that her strokes get spinny the faster she pushed. This could be troublesome in 200 in Rio if she pushes from the start.

Daniel Madden

McKeon is swimming faster everytime she swims.
No pressure and less than half a second off Sjostrom,Ledecky and co.
McKeon is the darkhorse.

Craig Lord

I wouldn’t call her a dark horse, Daniel 🙂 [‘a candidate or competitor about whom little is known but who unexpectedly wins or succeed’]. I’d call her a serious contender 🙂


If they get out fast enough they can neutralize Ledeckys finish, If they go out like Kazan Ledecky will win, simple as that.

Craig Lord

Attempting to neutralise Ledecky’s finish with a scorching first half is not without risk, of course, gheko… Ledecky is dangerous in both scenarios.


Only the brave win Olympic Gold, either way it will be interesting to see how they swim this race!

Craig Lord

Yep, very much so, gheko (though important to note ‘not quite only’ – those assisted with doping have won, too, as we all know)


Yes and Park competed at the Brisbane meet last weekend, I heard he is racing in Rio, done his time etc!

Craig Lord

Hangs on CAS, deliberation tomorrow, gheko

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