Continuing Show, David Popovici Rolls to 50 Freestyle Crown at European Junior Champs


Continuing Show, David Popovici Storms to 50 Freestyle Crown at European Junior Champs

Add the 50-meter freestyle title to the collection of Romanian youngster David Popovici, as the 17-year-old and rising centerpiece of the sport continue to shine at the European Junior Championships in Bucharest. With the 200 freestyle crown already secured, Popovici blasted the field in the one-lap sprint, prevailing easily over Croatian Jere Hribar.

Racing on home soil, Popovici delivered a time of 22.16, an effort that turned back the 22.55 marker of Hribar. The bronze medal was won by Israel’s Martin Kartavi, who turned in a swim of 22.57. There was never any question concerning Popovici’s status as champion in the event, only what kind of time he would register.

Popovici is competing at the European Junior Champs after excelling last month at the World Championships in Budapest. It was there in which the talented youth was crowned world champ in the 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle, and firmly established himself as a leading face in the sport on the road to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

While Popovici has continued to excel at the Euro Juniors, with several impressive leadoff splits in the 100 freestyle and his gold medal in the 200 freestyle, the 50 free was an opportunity to see where his pure speed sat. By going 22-low, Popovici was again in impressive, and with additional muscle to be gained in the coming years, the event only figures to improve.

Estonia’s Eneli Jefimova claimed the closest of victories in the women’s 200 breaststroke when she out-touched France’s Justine Delmas, 2:26.85 to 2:26.86. The difference was the closing speed of Jefimova, as her final lap was covered in 37.30, compared to the 38.94 of Delmas, who was followed in the bronze position by Turkey’s Defne Coskun (2:27.51).

Poland’s Ksawery Masiuk is two-thirds of the way to a sweep of the backstroke events after topping the field in the 200 back. Already the titlist in the 50 backstroke, Masiuk put together a swim of 1:56.62 to beat the Ukraine’s Oleksandr Zheltyakov (1:57.65) by more than a second. Masiuk’s countryman also earned a place on the podium, as Filip Kosinski was third in 1:58.93.

Michal Piela was another Polish athlete who won gold on Friday, his triumph arriving in the 400 individual medley. Piela went 4:20.50 t0 defeat Hungary’s Zsombor Bujdoso and his mark of 4:21.64. Rounding out the medals stand was Greece’s Vasileios Sofikitis with a time of 4:22.22.

Frenchman Lucien Vergnes surged down the last lap of the 200 breaststroke to rally from third place to the title in 2:13.02. Vergnes touched at the 150-meter mark more than a second behind Austria’s Luka Mladenovic, but a closing leg of 34.37 enabled Vergnes to claim a narrow triumph, as Mladenovic finished in 2:13.21. The bronze medal went to Great Britain’s George Smith in 2:13.79.

Daniel Gracik of the Czech Republic stood atop the podium after winning the 100 butterfly in 52.69, comfortably ahead of silver medalist Casper Puggaard of Denmark. Puggaard posted a time of 53.05, followed in third by France’s Ethan Dumesnil (53.35).

An intriguing battle for gold in the women’s 100 freestyle has shaped up, with France’s Mary-Ambre Moluh (55.19) and Hungary’s Nikoletta Padar (55.32) securing the top seeds for the final. They will be challenged by Belgium’s Roos Vanotterdijk (55.48) and Hungary’s Dora Molnar (55.57). Meanwhile, Bosnia’s Lana Pudar advanced to the final of the 200 butterfly as the convincing top seed, thanks to a semifinal mark of 2:11.15.

Moluh, Vergnes, Yohan Airaud and Giulia Rossi-Bene combined to win the mixed medley relay in 3:50.55.

After advancing in the 100 freestyle, Molnar returned to the pool later in the session and took gold in the women’s 200 backstroke in 2:10.31, followed by Poland’s Laura Bernat (2:11.07) and Great Britain’s Evie Dilley (2:11.19).

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