Sarah Sjostrom Says ‘If All Goes Right In My Head’ I Can Go Where Spitz Went, Sub-55

Sarah Sjostrom by Patrick B. Kraemer

Cast back through the history book and the moment at USA Olympic Trials in 1972 when Mark Spitz took the 100m butterfly world record below 55sec for the first time on his way to those seven golds at Munich 1972. “I can do that,” says Sarah Sjostrom on the prospect of the first sub-55 by a woman

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Cast back through the history book and the moment at USA Olympic Trials in 1972 when Mark Spitz took the 100m butterfly world record below 55sec for the first time on his way to those seven golds at Munich 1972. “I can do that,” says Sarah Sjostrom on the prospect of the first sub-55 by a woman



I am glad that 100 fly is her first individual event and on the first day.


If Sjostrom concentrates that much on excellence at 100 fly targeting sub 55 then the question is can she be at the same level of perfection at different style in the same meet.
Nobody will challenge her gold medal at 100 fly, but she will have exceptionally tough competition in freestyle. Shouldn’t she refocus her efforts? Do we know any examples of the superb sprinting races in fly and free done by the same person in one meet (man or woman)?

Craig Lord

Michael Gross, Yozhik: 200 free and 100 fly gold at the 1984 OGs; world titles 1982 and 1986 – 200 free and 200 fly gold double at both championships. Several others, too… Matt Biondi, for example…50 100 and on free 200 at same meets (5 golds (3 solo free events) and silver 100 fly 1988 OGs; 100 free gold and 100 fly silver at 1986 worlds…); a few GDR cases (K Ender; Otto etc) …Jenny Thompson …Libby Lenton/Trickett … Susie O’Neil but 200 free and 200 fly not 100s as a winner… Phelps if counting 100 and 200 events, of course.


Maybe yozhik was only joking. Free/fly sprinters legends have been the most common combination at the Olympics.

In the other article, I have given him example of the Olympics gold standard for female sprinter:
Inge de Bruijn, 2000 olympics, gold medals in 50/100 free and 100 fly, all in WR times.

In addition to what Craig has written above:

Amy van Dyken, 1996 Olympics, 50 free and 100 fly golds.

Libby Trickett, 2007 worlds, 50/100 free and 100 fly golds. 2008 Olympics, 100 fly gold and 100 free silver.

What has not been done is a female swimmer medaling in 50-100-200 distances.


And the most obvious example is the man whose name is in the title of this article:

Mark Spitz, 1972 Olympics, 100/200 free and fly golds, all in world records.
But maybe yozhik would not accept it as they were done by prehistoric swimmers.


I forgot to add one name: Michael Klim, 1998 World Championships, 100 fly and 200 free golds, 100 free silver, 50 free bronze. In addition, he also swam all three relays (4×100 medley and 4×200 golds, 4×100 free silver).

I think this is the template to what Sarah’s Rio schedule will likely to be.


I’m not joking asf. My question wasn’t about medals at fly and free in the same meet but about setting personal bests at world record level (or at close proximity to it) in the same meet. I hope you see the difference. That is what Sjostrom is needed to win gold in freestyle disciplines. And I’m talking about sprinters where specialization for each style and distance is very strong. Try to understand my point. Imagine a juggler who can toss into the air either heavy knifes or some very fragile objects. Now he decides to push himself to the limits and to double the number of objects. He will have problem with that because despite it looks like he does same movements but different objects require different skills. Focusing on improvement of one skill will be most likely done in expense of improvement of another skill.


I understand, Yozhik. And I think the names that Craig and I provided above fulfill the criteria you wrote.

Personal Best

Either in terms of setting personal bests, or winning golds (or both), despite the relative common occurrence of the free-fly combos, it’s still a big ask.

PVH did awesomely well to win medals in the 50-100-200 free (I think at least 2 of those three were in personal best times) at Sydney 2000.
That’s all in freestyle though.

In terms of female swimmers, it certainly was possible for the free-fly double/triple/quadruple.

Trickett, in 2007, didn’t swim the individual 200, but swam the fastest time in the event that year leading the relay. SHe also won the 50-100 free and 100 fly. This was at the world championships though, not the OGs. A whole other set of nerves come into play at the OGs.

Personal Best

I lied: Trickett did not swim the 200 free in the fastest time of the year in 2007.
That was at the Commonwealth Games.

My lie! Sorry.

Personal Best

In other words, Sjostrom could be the first to win medals across all four races, but gold in 4, or 3, or even 2 events is not going to be easy at all!


I agree that golds in all four events for Sarah is a huge ask and if you ask me, unlikely.

But even if, say, she wins medals in 50 free/100fly/200free and miss out on 100 free medal, that would still be huge. No female swimmer has ever medaled in 50/100/200 distances at the Olympics, regardless of strokes/events. For men, PVDH and Biondi did it.

John Svensson

I would, and I think Sarah would too, be extremely happy with say one gold and two medals. She’s got the potential for four medals but one gold is the important task. Even the lone gold makes her most successful Swedish female swimmer of all time, and arguably the best counting the men too.

In freestyle she can aim to improve her PBs but she can’t dictate what the Campbells and Ledeckys of the world do.

Only in the 100 fly she’s in charge and can determine the outcome by herself. If she grabs that event, some weight should come off her shoulders and she could have a very big meet. It’s kinda exciting and scary at the same time that her first event is her biggest chance. Remember this is not only Sweden’s big chance in swimming, it’s in all of sports. She’s the sportsman of the year the last two years, above Ibrahimovic. There’s a lot of pressure to cope with compared to other nations with a million chances .

Personal Best

I believe anyone would be feeling the pressure; it’s unfathomable unless you’ve been at the starting block racing for gold and I don’t envy them.

I agree, the 100 fly is almost as good enough hers to give her the medal now.
It may be the most nervy of her races, but if she wins that, she may well feel far more relaxed as the week goes on.

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