Sarah Sjöström Throws Her Cap In The Ring For Rio 2016 Olympic 200m Freestyle

Sarah Sjostrom by Patrick B. Kraemer

Sarah Sjöström has opted in: the Swedish ace tells her home media that she will race the 200m freestyle at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Game on with world champion Katie Ledecky and Co

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Sarah Sjöström has opted in: the Swedish ace tells her home media that she will race the 200m freestyle at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Game on with world champion Katie Ledecky and Co

Comments

ThereaLuigi

Now we’re talking!

Janne Lindstrom

Been waiting for this to be confirmed. Been a buzz after the Bergen swim and the first relay leg in Kazan. Good for her that realy duty comes later in the week.

Lennart van Haaften

Good for the sport. It’s always very sad when a top favorite has to pull out of an event due to scheduling issues.

Her individual schedule is perfect. She could at most swim 8 individual night races (4 semis, 4 finals), and these will be spread out equally over all 8 days of competition, with the longest races first. And both freestyle relay finals are on days that she has an individual semifinal.

paolo rubbiani

Very important news.
I wrote a lot about Sjostrom and the 200 free and I am pleased for this decision that I hope will be confirmed.
I know that Pellegrini’s chances for a dream-end (Olympic medal or, why not, gold medal in her last Olympics) of an already beautiful career are going to diminish, but I totally agree with Lennart Van Haaften: good for the sport that all the best swimmers will be in competition.
From a technical point of view, Sjostrom is my favorite for Olympic gold in the 200 free.

John Liu

Good, we might actually see a 1:53 now 😉
All the girls now know that’s what it would take. I kind of wish she hadn’t revealed this until April or so. That said, how serious could Sarah have trained for the 200free previous to her 1:54.3?

Bad Anon

From a recent historical perspective ; I wouldn’t be surprised someone going a PB in that 200free final in rio and still miss the podium. In Beijing it was Katie Hoff going an America record and still getting locked out. It may be that race where you’d have to be 1.54 to medal. Beijing 2015 (IAAF) saw for the 1st time 3 women under 22sec in the 200m final led by flying dutch woman Dafne Schippers. Me thinks. Pellegrini, Sjostrom and Ledecky will medal .. But lets wait for US trials and Rio form line in July 2016

Bad Anon

USA trials will be exciting. Don’t see anyone getting past Missy and Katie. Schmitt is past her peak. she’ll be 1.56 thereabouts good enough for relay duty. Other relay spots up for grabs ; 1.57 mid for a top 6 finish. If Hemskerk can consult a psychologist and iron out her “perennial choking” issues, she’ll be the spoiler. Gold – Sjostrom 1.53.50
Silver -Pellegrini 1.54.40
Bronze -Ledecky 1.54.55
1st locked out Franklin 1.54.67(PB)

Mike Ball

It’s great Sjostrom is swimming the 200 free and I agree with everyone re: her schedule, best vs. best, etc.

Where I’m going to disagree – and I’m interested in other’s thoughts on this – are the times. I think the whole meet – across the board – is going to be slower than anticipated.

I’ve been told that it’s an open air pool (I think it’s the old Maria Lenk facility.) with a roof on it, it’s going to be late at night and it’s September in Rio. That’s late winter, early spring there and it can get relatively cold. (10° – 15°C) And it rains that time of year, too.Those aren’t the best conditions for fast swimming. It’s going to be a tough meet, I think.

commonwombat

Interesting that she’s taken this path but clearly she and her coach have fully thought out their approach …. as they have done so with their Kazan campaign.

As to what time she, or anyone else, may swim; this can only be pure speculation at this point until we can start seeing 2016 times being registered from the major countries/major players.

As to her shorter events; the 50fs will always have a “lottery” feel about it given the evenness of the leading contenders but I’d still have to think her close to even money with either Campbell over 100fs

John Liu

It’s going to be indoors

NB from ED: go to the menu on this page and click Barra… scroll down to swimming and when you click a pop up of an artist’s impression comes up… shows what they think it will look like:
http://www.rio2016.com/en/venues-map … not ready yet…
http://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/news/a-first-look-at-the-olympic-aquatics-stadium-in-rio/

Yozhik

Luigi I agree with you that this announcement is from the category “talking”. Nothing new happened. Why does she do it now? She was up to the greatest ambitious challenge to grab all sprinter golds in swimming at WC in Kazan. The outcome wasn’t as expected to the disappointment of many of her followers. So to get their attention back a new challenge has been declared today – 4 individual golds in Rio. If there was a problem to do it in Kazan then what makes Rio different? As commonwombat suggested let’s wait for the 2016 starts so we can say then “Now we are swimming!”

DDias

Mike Ball,
you are confusing the places.Maria Lenk lacks a roof, but is not swimming place.It s Water Polo.Swimming will have roof.
I live in Rio de Janeiro(40km from Olympics venue), and the weather here is a bit crazy.The problem for you, a foreigner, is not be cold or hot.Is how fast goes from cold to hot.
Last week, still Winter, the temperature went from 16c to 40c in TWO days(60f to 104f). Today, first full day of Spring, 41.3c(106.34f).

Note:Happy to see Sarah in 200free.The level of this race will be amazing!

Yozhik

I always wondering of the secrets of making predictions. Can the logic be that simple like the following: this time is too generous and this one taken from the opposite end is too modest? Then let’s make it in the middle. Bad Anon you predict 0.7% improvement for Sjostrom. It is what Ledecky did at 800 in Kazan and it was shocking even for those who believe in Ledecky’s limitless 🙂 Sjostrom didn’t show any improvement at any freestyle discipline in 2015. By showing dominant time at 200 fs Sjostrom nevertheless has not won any competitive races so far besides the one at world record time in SCM. What is your confidence based on?
Also if environmental conditions are not perfect then swimmers like Hosszu, Ledecky and maybe Pellegrini will have advantage against pure sprinters whose major weapon – perfect technique – cannot be used at 100%.

commonwombat

Yozhik, the prediction game with regards to times is akin to “playing hopscotch on a minefield”.

Who will be on form at that particular meet, notwithstanding what time they may’ve swam at their national Trials ?

Will illness take its toll on various teams or a number of teams as has happened at previous large meet ?

Will the races in question prove to be “tactical” ones rather than fast ones, as was the case in this specific case in Kazan ?

Will one or more of the other finallists from Kazan (or someone from outside those ranks ie SMOC) make major steps forward to enter the ranks of legitimate contenders ?

Will Ledecky’s “run” end before Rio ? Barring a decision to retire post Rio, its inevitable that this WILL occur as it has to all others before her. They can still be dominant in their “dominant events” but just not pushing the boundaries any further (case in point Evans over 800).

WILL there be some readjustment to Franklin’s program for Rio ? Backstroke has traditionally been seen as her stronger stroke but key technical issues have arisen (arguably due to her NCAA period). Will her training, and as a result her program, be “re-weighted” towards getting this back on track ?

Yozhik

Commonwombat, sure a lot of bad or unexpected things can happen during next 10 months and it is premature to predict the outcome of 200m fs final in Rio. I also totally agree with your analysis of Franklin’s case. Unless she catches a new wave she may not focus on 200m fs solo at all. But my response on Bad Anon’s posting was about prediction of PB that by definition excludes any disturbing factors. Surprisingly many people are deceived by Sjostrom’s PB “improvement” from 1:55.04 to 1:54.31 and by seemingly missed gold medal. Therefore we have a great deal of super optimistic expectations of Sjostrom’s participation at 200m race. Predictions that expect her to be even more spectacular and unreachable than she is now. I don’t have a single drop of Gypsy blood in my veins and therefore cannot foresee the future. So when someone gives estimates of PB I’m always wondering what logic is behind such prediction.

commonwombat

I think we’re basically on the same wavelength. Sportspeople’s development, whatever the sport, rarely runs along linear patterns.

They may have years of consistent “tracking” then there may be periods of “plateauing”. For multi-stroke swimmers; this can particularly be the case with one stroke being the vehicle with which they “breakthrough” with the other(s) coming along at different times.

It’s also rare for them to have both/all strokes right on “peak” at the same time; and most will “take” the scenario where one stoke is “right on” and the other at “highly competitive” level.

Yozhik

Interesting. I’ve never thought this way and it is probably what’s taking place in Sjostrom’s situation. She was spectacular in fly last years and that may made, as you suggested, her freestyle to plateau. Now when there is practically no competition at 100m fly can she refocus on freestyle races? It is completely different style of training. Will they do it?
After reading your posting about Susie O’Neill I’m inclining to think that the reason of skipping 200m was not caused by tough schedule with doubles and exhausting back to back races that don’t leave time for recovery. And it was not because training for 50 sprint and 200m are mutually exclusive processes. But mostly because she doesn’t like this distance that requires too much efforts to be prepared for. Since 2011 she doesn’t swim 200 fly at all for clear reason. 200m fs is easier to do but still is not much of fun. If this is the case and it was SHE who decided and is ready to go for it then she does have room for improvement, but mentality issues are the most difficult ones to deal with.

felix

Any time Katie stands on the blocks to race anything from 200 upwards she’s my fav to win. At the least I think she will be 1.0 faster than Kazan simply by not having the 1500. Federica is no chance of beating Katie …

aswimfan

Good choice.

She threw away 200 free in Kazan for minor medals in 50/100 free.

She has learned her lesson well.

Yozhik

It was one rare occasion when Bruce Gemmell made a statement about Katie’s possible performance. He said that should’ve Ledecky been required to go with 1:54 to win the Championship then she would do it. Knowing how cautious he is in such a matter it tells that Ledecky has been already multiple times under 1:55 at practice. How deep was the “dive” I can only guess.

aswimfan

I agree with Felix.

I love Federica, and she’s firmly in my top greatest 200 free female swimmers ever, but no way she’s getting silver in Rio, unless the race is very slow.

commonwombat

Felix, lets just see how 2016 starts ‘panning out’ before making grandiose proclamations.

To date, Ledecky has not shown over 200 that she has the gap on the field she has in the longer races. That doesn’t mean to say that she can’t win at 200; Kazan clearly illustrated that she can; but its an awfully open race.

Disagree, ASW, re Sjostrom & Kazan. She was never a dead cert to win the 200 and we cannot know for certain what time she have swam in the final. Yes, she swam a fast relay split but that’s a relay split rather than going through the 3 rounds of the individual event.

She only ever had one event you could say was a safe Gold bet and that was the 100fly. In the 100fs, she was equal favourite with C1 & either favourite or 2nd favourite over 50; she walked away with 2nd money in both. Whilst she’d have been a clear contender in 200fs, its somewhat of a re-write of history to state she would have been favourite.

aswimfan

If Pellegrini wins 200 free medal, she will become the first female swimmer to win an individual medal 4 olympics apart.

Yozhik

I’m still very excited with the Heemskerk race in April. Swimming it in training style – the first half at the 29.5 pace (saving 1.5 sec with dive start) and the second half with the 28.5 pace – was possible to clock the third time ever. It shows how many hidden surprises this race may have. So don’t discount Pellegrini, she may find her way. She stocked between two American youngsters as Sjostrom did between Sisters. With Sjostrom making her intentions very clear everything got very serious but not impossible. So tricky this distance is. It will be also nice to see new names among contenders for medals.

Bad Anon

The prediction above was quite arbitrary and based on who is likely to have the greatest improvement ; gave the nod to Sara because she was focusing on fly and sprint freestyle this past summer. in real life, we we have a completely different set of medallists. Missy will drop 100fs. Though I think she has plateaud; she may even struggle to break 1.55. (200fs) and 2.05(200bk) the latter event she’s still ahead of her rivals at best. sarah sjo’s presence in the race will make it a fast final ; she’ll race it like Agnel did in London, she’ll break 1.54 I’m almost certain

Craig Lord

Assuming the linear in pool and life, Ban Anon. A long year ahead for all concerned – as it ever was. A years out and even 4 months out from London 2012 many had Sarah and KH and others down as medallists and even winners – they didn’t make the podium. They ay well do this time but so very much can and will change ion Olympic year. KH will be 27 and heading into her 4th Games next summer – and aiming and hoping for an experience like she’s never had before.

Felix Sanchez

If all goes to plan in the 100fly, no doubt she’ll be, happy, confident and feeling like anything else is a bonus. In those circumstances one would expect a good time and a podium. I would still consider Ledecky the favourite. It’s of course right – as warned above – not to always expect linear progress rates from swimmers, but with her being the youngest of the main contenders, having the world title, and having no 1500, there’s a lot in her favour. Ledecky is clearly a proven competitor too – although I was rather disappointed with Bruce Gemmell’s comment about how she would have produced the faster time in world’s if necessary: a bit too unquantifiable for a coach to state with confidence.

paolo rubbiani

Ok, in the comments above I’ve read a lot of “swimming politically correct” (remember Sjostrom’s failure in London 2012 Olympic 200 free, a long swimming year ahead, who will be in form or not, various illness may occur, 3 rounds of 200 are different than a relay swim. etc etc): all right, but something is sure

1) If Sjostrom will be racing, 200 free in Rio won’t be a tactical race. Why? Because for her, even with a training focused on 50 and 100 races, a split at 100 in 55.4-55.5 is a certainty. And with a training more 200 free-oriented, she may have a faster split at 100 without suffering in the last 100. Totally agree with Bad Anon and his comparison with Agnel’ way of swimming the 200 free in London.

2) Sjostrom’ failures in 200 free in 2011 and 2012 bore some “mentality issues” (in the Yozhik words), but in the last two years Sjostrom, without a specifical training, I repeat, showed such a great growth not only as a sprinter, but also in 200 and 400 free (she swam a 4.06 in a season-meet), that I think she can manage very well her “mentality issues” about swimming 200 free in the main events.

Craig Lord

Felix, Bruce Gemmell actually said that he had no doubt she would have produced a 1:54 if that had been required to get her hand to the wall first. The context was the character of the swimmer, the fight in her, backed by the work that allows that nature to show through come the the big occasion. He wasn’t saying he could specify any particular time, he was saying that she’ll fight like hell to win.

Craig Lord

Paolo, just one note: Sarah has been training for a world class 200; it has been part of her preparation already. She may be able to hone things if 200 becomes THE focus but I would not imagine her doing anything radically different to what she has been doing (and to do so in Olympic year could well be a disaster).

ThereaLuigi

I am with Craig. No one can tell one year out who is going to do what. And you can’t rule out some young, relatively unknown swimmer making the giant leap at the right time. I am just happy that Sjostrom will be in the mix, because none of the current main contenders, except to an extent Hemskeerk, has her characteristic of being a sprinter by nature venturing into the middle distance. Sarah is pretty much unique among women and has no correspondent among men; I can’t think of an elite male 50 and 100 free swimmer who is also a threat in the 200.

aswimfan

It’s is extremely rare to be world level medalist in all 50 100 and 200. The last swimmer to do 50 to 200 successfully was Hoogie in 2000.

And I firmly believe Sarah has the talent and now the training to be successful in all three distances.

Felix Sanchez

Craig, as you say, he believes she would have had the 1.54 if necessary, so he’s specifying at least sub-Sjostrom. Her ‘fight’ is obviously a very important factor, but I doubt the value of comparing it so confidently to actual empirical data.

Not a big deal by any stretch, just prefer things a bit more scientific.

“To be is to be the value of a variable”.

paolo rubbiani

@Craig: if someone remember how poor were Sarah’ start or turns or her first 50 even in 2009 when she won her first gold at Worlds, Jenner has made an incredible work to transform Sarah in an amazing sprinter, with that Beamonesque 24.5 in 50 fly, but also with great improvements in 50 free.
And last year, when talks about Sjostrom racing in 200 free were developing, Jenner said: “Sarah is a sprinter”..
So, I agree that Sjostrom has been training and racing not as a pure sprinter (like Campbell’sisters or Kromo or Halsall for instance), and she has swum several 200 free in-season, but it’s clear that the priority of her coach and the greatest amount of work in training were made to develop her sprinter’s skills.
Now, if Sjostrom’s words will be confirmed, the priorities and the focus are different indeed, because training for 100 and 200, with 200 free as main event and the sprint races seen as a time to enjoy, is a lot different that what done in the past, when Sjostrom and Jenner know that in the main event there wasn’t 200 free but only 50 and 100 free/fly to race for.

Mike Ball

DDias, thanks for the correction re: the venue and I defer to your experience (You live there, after all!) with regards the weather. My only defence re: the weather is that the one time I was in Rio September, I was surprised at how much colder it was than I expected.

paolo rubbiani

Edit: is a lot different that what done in the past, when Sjostrom and jenner knew that in the main event..

Yozhik

Felix S. I think you are simplifying Sjostrom’s fighting character. After watching her disappointment at freestyle finals in Kazan I would suggest that she considers fly championships as given and fs championships as must have. This “as a bonus” talk doesn’t associate with my view on Sarah Sjostrom’s phenomenon in women competitive swimming.

Craig Lord

Yes, Paolo, but my point was that the sprint work involved 200m prep as part of the work required to ake sure she can bring it come on sprints. So, as I said, I don’t envisage a radical change in her preparation for Rio 2016…

Yozhik

Paolo, if you got offended with my view on Sarah Sjostrom then don’t be. Since there is no publicly available knowledge of why Sjostrom has been consistently skipping racing at 200m freestyle at major championships then I can assume whatever I want. When there are no explanations from Sarah then there are no limits to my fantasy and speculations. “Mentality issues” are nothing more than nice looking English words to me. I don’t know what it means 🙂

Felix Sanchez

Yozhik, I’ve said nothing about Sjostrom’s ‘fighting character’, and have no wish to downplay it. However, I would question your analysis, based on a couple of interviews she gave in Kazan, describing herself as a butterflyer, not a freestyler (after missing out on the freestyle sprint titles). Given that, and – perhaps more importantly – the fact that she has yet to win an Olympic title, I do think it reasonable to envisage anything after 100fly gold as a ‘bonus’.

That doesn’t have to be seen as a negative thing, and certainly contains no suggestion that she won’t fight for it; rather, it could be very liberating.

Yozhik

Thank you Felix for responding on my post. It makes me feel important 🙂 You may not noticed it but I expecting your nicely put objections intentionally underlined that it is my personal view on Sjostrom. That is what I am reading between lines of thrilling story of her sport life. My “readings” can have nothing to do with the reality, but when the person insists on being just a butterflyer, and just a sprinter then what this talk of racing 200m freestyle is all about? Just in case? If nobody wants to take this Olympic gold medal and it would be nice to pick it up as a bonus without putting much sweat and blood. It doesn’t work this way in the field of contemporary competitive professional swimming. You should want it badly if you want to have it.

paolo rubbiani

@Craig: in my opinion there won’t be a radical change (you’re right, too risky in an Olympic season) but there will be some tangible adjustments in Sjostrom’s training. And it will be extremely interesting for us, swimming fans, seeing how Sjostrom will perform next year.
@Yozhik: I don’t use emoticons but I am very relaxed when I talk about swimming, so don’t worry.
Sjostrom certainly had great disappointments in 2011 and 2012, so it’s comprehensible that, with her schedules full of events, she and her coach have been reluctant to swim again the 200 free in main events. Moreover it’s easier to train (and race) for 50 and 100 free/ fly, rather than inserting also a 200 free. But in the last two years Sjostrom has made so great steps forward as an athlete, and she has been so strong in the 4×200 free relay ( two 200 in the same day, because Sjostrom swam heats and final both at Europeans 2014 and at Worlds 2015) that would be a real pity not to swimming the individual race in Rio.

Yozhik

@Felix Sanchez. Yesterday I learned nice phrase from commonwonbat – “to be on the same wavelength” and that is what exactly is not happening when you, Craig and me are listening to Bruce Gemmell. We are tuned differently. What Craig hears is that the Coach believe that if it is biologically possible then his pupil will make it real. 1:54 actually means under 1:55 and was a figure of speech. Ledecky was in complete control of the race after last turn when she surfaced with about half of the body length advantage. She saw everybody but McKeon and when Pellegrini surged to get very close then Ledecky with few powerful last strokes finished the business. If to beat Pellegrini or Franklin or Heemskerk required to be 0.2sec faster she by coach opinion could do it.
What you hear is that the coach unquantifiablly said that it is all up to Ledecky. That if some nice but boring morning she decides to beat Sjostrom just for a change then she will do it.
When I am listening to Bruce Gemmel I am listening to the person who has Master degree and an experience in the field of engineering. This person knows what the “Scientific Method” is and doesn’t say anything that cannot be verified and cannot be supported by facts. If he says that Ledecky can swim under 1:55 then I believe that he has already witnessed such swim or has indirect but sufficient evidences that make him sure that she is already able to do so.
What actually he meant has to be asked Bruce Gemmell directly.

gheko

Predictions mean nothing this far out, remember London? Sarah swam 4th in the 100m fly and failed to medal in any event, and has yet to win an olympic medal of any color! Am sure this will change in Rio!

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