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Sarah Sjostrom unlikely to defend Olympic 100m butterfly title, eyes freestyles

Sarah Sjostrom

GWANGJU, SOUTH KOREA - JULY 25: Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden reacts after the Women’s 100m Freestyle Semifinal on day five of the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships at Nambu International Aquatics Centre on July 25, 2019 in Gwangju, South Korea. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

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Swedish swimming star Sarah Sjöström said she’s unlikely to defend her Olympic 100m butterfly title in Tokyo, but plans to swim freestyle races, after breaking her right elbow slipping and falling on ice on Feb. 6.

Sjöström, the world-record holder in the 100m fly, 50m freestyle and 100m free, set a goal to race the 50m and 100m frees at the Olympics but didn’t rule out the 100m fly entirely, according to Swedish media translations of an audio interview.

Sjöström’s agency confirmed that’s her plan as of Monday.

Sjöström lowered her own 100m fly world record in becoming the first Swedish woman to win an Olympic swimming title in 2016, prevailing by .98 of a second.

She won her fourth world title in the event in 2017, but was relegated to silver at 2019 Worlds by Canadian Maggie MacNeil, a University of Michigan student who jumped from the 10th-fastest woman in history to second behind Sjöström.

Sjöström’s absence would open things up for young Americans, should they make their first Olympic team at Trials next month. Claire Curzan, 16, is second-fastest in the world this year behind China’s Zhang Yufei. Torri Huske, 18, ranks fourth.

A healthy Sjöström is arguably the favorite in the 50m and 100m frees, though Simone Manuel won both events at 2019 Worlds.

Sjöström took silver to Katie Ledecky in the 200m free at the Rio Olympics -- the closest of Ledecky’s three individual races -- but enters that event intermittently at major international meets.

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