David Popovici Takes 200 Free In 1:45.95; Merve Tuncel Goes Eighth In 1500 Rankings At European Juniors

David Popovici European Jnrs
David Popovici: Picture courtesy: Deepbluemedia

David Popovici won the 200 free in 1:45.95 to claim his second gold medal of the European Junior Championships at the Foro Italico in Rome.

It came 10 minutes after he went in the second semi of the 50 free where he topped the qualifiers for Sunday’s final in 22.75, conserving energy and breathing to his right.

There was also another swim of note by 16-year-old Merve Tuncel in the 1500 free as she became the swiftest junior in Europe in 15:55.23, a time that elevated her to eighth in the rankings.

That followed her 8:21.91 over 800 free earlier in the week when she lowered Ajna Kesely‘s junior standard and she heads to Tokyo as the youngest member of the Turkish swimming team.

Such is the excitement surrounding Popovici that each time he takes to the water there is a real sense of anticipation, the question ‘what will he do?’ forming on the lips of observers.


David Popovici: Photo Courtesy: Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

On Friday the 16-year-old went 1:45.26 in the semis, inside Hwang Sunyoo‘s official world junior record of 1:45.92.

However, the Korean swam 1:44.96 at the national trials in May although that has yet to be ratified by FINA.

It was though a championship record for the Romanian who cut a 0.66 chunk from Yannick Agnel‘s 1:46.58, two years before the Frenchman went on to win Olympic gold in London.

That had followed his 47.30 WJR over 100 free earlier in the week where he propelled himself top of the rankings.

His day started with 22.37 in the 50 free heats which was followed by a controlled, mature semi before the tight turnaround.

All eyes were on lane four and he went out in 24.53 to reach the halfway mark in 51.50, 1.06 ahead of nearest challenger Luis Dominguez Calonge of Spain.

Popovici – who turns 17 in September – pulled away on the third 50 to reach the final turn in 1:19.07 with a two body-length lead.

A last 50 of 26.88 guided him home 1.83 ahead of Mateusz Chowaniec of Poland (1:47.78) with Jovan Lekic of Bosnia and Herzegovina a further 0.68 adrift in 1:48.46.

Popovici said:

“I did the best I could but I feel tired. Anyway, I am very satisfied and surprised with the results.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how the 50m will go tomorrow. The pool is amazing and I love its atmosphere.

“I really like the climate in Rome and summer is my favourite season.”

Tuncel A Record-Breaker Once More; Shanahan At The Double

(L to R) ERTAN Deniz TUR silver; TUNCEL Merve TUR Gold; OTERO FERNANDEZ Paula ESP bronze 1.500 Freestyle women Podium swimming, nuoto LEN European Junior Swimming Championships 2021 Rome 21710 Stadio Del Nuoto Foro Italico Photo Alice Mastinu / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Photo Courtesy: Alice Mastinu / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Tuncel dominated the 1500, splitting 31.55 -32.49, to finish 19.03 ahead of her fellow Turk Deniz Ertan who clocked 16:14.26 with Spain’s Paula Otero Fernandez third in 16:19.92.

That was exactly eight seconds swifter than her previous PB and national record of 16:03.23 from December 2020 and lowered her championship standard of 16:10.28 from Friday.

It was the first European junior record in the event as Tuncel beat the target time of 16:02.29.

She said:

“I am satisfied with my result, it was quite challenging to face the other girls, especially in the first half of the race.

“Rome is amazing, it’s the first time I’ve competed at Stadio del Nuoto.”

Katie Shanahan EJC

Katie Shanahan, centre, 200IM podium: Photo Courtesy: deepbluemedia

Katie Shanahan completed the medley double as she came from third at 150 to win the 200IM in 2:13.13.

The Briton, who won the 400IM on the opening evening at the Foro Italico, split 29.50/1:02.98/1:42.27 at which point she found herself 0.54 off leader Anastasiia Sorokina.

A final-50 blast of 30.86 – the only sub-31 in the field – propelled her to the head of the field and a second title of the meet.

Sorokina of Russia clocked 2:13.84 for second with Hungarian Panna Ugrai moving from fifth at the final turn to third in 2:14.37.

Shanahan said:

“I’m satisfied with my time and with the other races I’ve competed these days. I won three medals.

“I’m happy to swim in a pool like Stadio del Nuoto: it’s wonderful.”

Daria Klepikova opened the action with a championship record of 26.14 in the 50 fly.

The Russian, winner of the 100 free, sliced 0.07 from Frenchwoman Naele Portecop‘s 2019 standard of 26.21.

Lana Pudar, of Bosnia and Herzegovina, replicated her second place in the 200 fly in the shortest distance in 26.29 with Roos Vanotterdijk of Belgium rounding out the podium in 26.55.

Russia women 4x100 EJC

Photo Courtesy: deepbluemedia

Klepikova returned for the final race of the evening to anchor the Russian 4×100 free quartet to a championship record of 3:40.10 with an anchor leg of 54.53.

That took 1.14 from Germany’s previous mark of 3:41.24 set in Kazan, Russia at the last edition.

Britain were second in 3:42.27 with Hungary taking bronze in 3:43.86.

She said:

“I worked hard for this victory and I’m very satisfied, it adds to the gold medals won in 100 freestyle and in relays. I felt I could have done even better. Now I’m thinking about next season.

“I have dreams about my future, but for now I’m focusing on training.”

Aleksas Savickas of Lithuania held off Russian Dmitrii Ashkabov to win the boys’ 200 breaststroke by 0.02.

Luka Mladenovic led at the first turn in 29.83 ahead of Savickas (30.22) who was 0.02 ahead at the halfway point.

Come the third 50 and Savickas found another gear to lead by 0.19 from Ashkabov who had moved into second and although the Russian went 34.79 to the Lithuanian’s 34.98, he fell just short.

Savickas got the touch in 2:13.35 to Ashkabov’s 2:13.37 while Maksym Tkachuk of Ukraine came from eighth at halfway and fifth at 150 to blast a final lap 33.92 for third in 2:13.75.

Carmen Weiler Sastre of Spain won the girls’ 50 back in 28.42 ahead of Serbia’s Nina Stanisavljevic (28.58) and Erika Gaetani of Italy who clocked 28.84.

Semi-Final Action

Vadim Klimenishchev topped the boys’ 200 fly semis in 1:57.98, leading home Polish twins Krzysztof (1:58.51) and Michal Chmielewski (1:58.57).

Kaloyan Levterov of Bulgaria headed the boys’ 200 back in 1:59.50.

Laura Bernat of Poland topped the girls’ 200 back in 2:11.72 ahead of Shanahan who returned less than 15 minutes after her 200IM victory to clock 2:12.98.

Daria Tatarinova headed the 50 free in 25.10, 0.08 outside Maria Kameneva‘s championship record of 25.02.

Eneli Jefimova led the 100br in 1:07.56 and Anastasiia Markova heads the 100 fly in 58.97.



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