Sarah Sjostrom: Five things you didn’t know about Sweden's Olympic champion

The swimming star has plenty of Olympic medals and world records, but did you know that she’s also an avid gamer? Find out more about her here.

By Andrew Binner ·

Sarah Sjostrom is best known for her blistering speed in the pool, and for being Sweden’s first female Olympic gold medallist in swimming.

But there is much more to her than meets the eye.

In addition to her Olympic gold medal at Rio 2016, six world records and 11 world titles including eight long course crowns confirm that she is doing something a little different to the rest.

Tokyo 2020 will be her fourth Olympic Games and, unlike some of her contemporaries who have suffered 'burnout' at a young age, the 27-year-old feels she can compete in another two or three!

Read on to discover why this is, and some other less-known facts about Sjostrom including her guilty pleasure.

Sjostrom breaks 100m butterfly world record

Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom breaks the 100m butterfly world record and takes th...

1 - A late bloomer who didn’t always like swimming!

What’s even more strange about Sjostrom’s impressive Olympic CV is that she only took up swimming at 10 - very late for the sport.

She played football and handball, and only tried swimming because her best friend at school joined a club.

Initially, it wasn’t a perfect fit.

"When I first started, I didn't like swimming. I hated getting water in my goggles. I didn't like being cold, so I used to hide in the showers!" - Sarah Sjostrom to Olympic Channel.

But one day the sport clicked into place for her, and she very quickly made up for lost time.

Just four years after starting out in the sport, she won the 100m butterfly European title aged 14 and made her Olympic debut at Beijing 2008.

Her first world title came the following year, and by the age of 21 she was a five-time world champion.

Sarah Sjostrom at age 17

The story of the Swedish star years before she became her country's first f...

2 - ‘Gold Bae’ is Sarah Sjostrom’s nickname

Remember Salt Bae, the Turkish chef who went viral for his meat-cutting mastery?

Well Sjostrom's World Cup team-mates think she is his equivalent in the swimming world!

Her World Cup companions coined the name Gold Bae, and it’s pretty self-explanatory - just look at her medal record…

Sarah SJOSTROM

Sweden
Swimming
See More

Number of medals

3 Olympic medals

1
1
1

Olympic Games

3 Olympic Games

3 - Gamer

It isn’t just in the pool that the Swedish star exercises her ruthless streak.

She also dabbles in video games like shooting title Counter Strike.

Sjostrom got into gaming through her brother and father, and joked that it could become her new sport during the coronavirus lockdown.

So gamers, beware the username Destr0ystr0m if you are playing online, as you could be up against an Olympic champion!

Elsewhere, she likes to break up her intense swimming training with indoor climbing.

"It helps with arm strength. But I won't compete in it at the Olympic Games. I know it is a new discipline and I joked about it on social media," she told olympic.org.

4 - A fear of flying

When it comes to a global sport like swimming, extensive international travel is a prerequisite for athletes wishing to compete on the big stage.

It may therefore come as some surprise to learn that despite all her experience on the circuit, flying is Sjostrom’s biggest fear.

“It’s probably the worst thing a professional athlete can have. I never use to be this bad, but as I have gotten older I'm getting worse." - Sjostrom to Cameron van der Burgh.

"My worst flight I've ever taken was from London to Rio, the plane was shaking in the middle of the night so violently from turbulence I thought we were going down! It gets better when I fly with team-mates or friends, but when sitting next to a stranger I really start to panic!" she told Van der Burgh for his blog.

Her top tips for fellow concerned flyers are to drown out the plane noise with headphones, and also to listen to podcasts.

5 - Interior decorating is her guilty pleasure

Sjostrom is a well-balanced individual and lets her creative self out once in a while.

She studied photography at college and enjoys taking photos of postcard-perfect Stockholm, while a chunk of her prize money always goes into sprucing up her house.

“My apartment looks like an interiors magazine. I don’t have the typical white walls or anything, it’s very special. There’s a lot of blue and green on the wall, a very elegant style, a lot of flowers and nice design furniture,” she told olympic.org.

"It’s very cosy; blue and green makes you a little bit calm. White is the colour that you get more stressed with. Nature was an inspiration. I am super proud of it. It’s so nice to have something unique."

'Unique' is a great world for Sjostrom, and let's hope her house has a nice big trophy cabinet for all that gold too!