Swedish swim star SJOESTROEM expecting close contest in sprints
GLASGOW - Olympic and world 100m butterfly champion Sarah SJOESTROEM (SWE) knows there will be no margin for error in the hotly contested sprint events when the swimming competition gets under way at Tollcross International Swimming Centre on Friday 3 August.
The 24-year-old, who won her first European title in 2008 aged 14, holds four world records in the 50m and 100m freestyle and butterfly, and won three golds and one silver medal at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest.
SJOESTROEM will form part of a quality field in the freestyle where she will meet Olympic 50m champion Pernille BLUME (DEN), Ranomi KROMOWIDJOJO (NED), the sprint double gold medallist at London 2012, and Charlotte BONNET (FRA), who has been in fine form. Federica PELLEGRINI (ITA), who beat Katie LEDECKY (USA) to the 200m freestyle world title, will race over two lengths.
"The freestyle events especially are going much, much faster," SJOESTROEM. "For me you need to get all the details right to take a medal or win the race. Even if I touch first a lot of the time it is very close with second and third. It is going to be the same here."
One to watch in the freestyle is Ajna KESELY (HUN), the 16-year-old claiming a clean sweep of all four titles from 200m to 1500m at last year’s European Junior Championships.
Alys THOMAS (GBR) tops the rankings in the 200m butterfly after her title-winning 2 minutes 05.45 seconds at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, the first international medal of her career at the age of 27. Olympic and world champion Mireia BELMONTE (ESP) is missing through injury.
Katinka HOSSZU (HUN) will seek her fifth consecutive European title in the 200m individual medley, an event in which she is also Olympic and three-time world champion and world record holder. She will face Siobhan O'CONNOR (GBR), who claimed silver behind her at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. HOSSZU will also contest the 100m and 200m backstroke.
HOSSZU is also the Olympic and world champion and world-record holder in the 400m individual medley but her absence from that race could see a battle for gold between Hannah MILEY (GBR) and Aimee WILLMOTT (GBR), an event the latter won at the Commonwealth Games. Ilaria CUSINATO (ITA) should also be in the mix.
Yuliya EFIMOVA (RUS) spearheads the breaststroke events. The 26-year-old is a triple Olympic medallist and a five-time world champion. She will renew rivalries with Ruta MEILUTYTE (LTU), who won the 100m breaststroke aged 15 at the London 2012 Olympic Games and who had two fourth-place finishes at the 2017 world championships.
The 50m and 100m will feature two 17-year-olds with bright futures. Tes SCHOUTEN (NED) will take a bow with Mona McSHARRY (IRL), who became world junior champion five days after she turned 17.