David Popovici Will Chase Another 13-Year-Old World Record Next Month

David Popovici
David Popovici -- Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli/Deepbluemedia

David Popovici Will Chase Another 13-Year-Old World Record Next Month

Over the last six months, David Popovici has exceeded expectations at every opportunity. After dominating a pair of individual events at the World Championships, the Romanian teenager broke a world record more than a decade old in the 100 freestyle at the European Championships, and he also became just the third man in history to break 1:43 in the 200 free (the first in a textile suit)Paul Biedermann’s essentially unbeatable world record in the four-lap event is now seemingly in jeopardy for 2023 or 2024 with Popovici’s rapid improvement.

But the 18-year-old could take a shot at a different record before this year is done. Popovici is planning to race at the Short Course World Championships in Melbourne, Australia, beginning on Dec. 13, and while Popovici has yet to distinguish himself in the 25-meter tank, a shot at Biedermann’s short course world record of 1:39.37 is definitely within reason. Biedermann swam that record in 2009 at a FINA World Cup stop, and no one has been able to touch it since. Only seven other men have even broken 1:41 since the banning of the polyurethane suits, most recently Matt Sates and Kyle Chalmers last year.

Popovici might not have the raw strength required to get down to this record quite yet, but his skills on top of the water will show in any race. He will be the heavy favorite for 200-meter gold and a favorite in the 100 free alongside Chalmers, who has also broken a 13-year-old world record in the not-too-distant past. Chalmers beat Amaury Leveaux’s long-standing mark in the 100 free with his time of 44.84, and Popovici could be in reach of that mark as well.

Long course swimming is the central focus of the sport, and Popovici’s accomplishments in the big pool have already made his 2022 over so many different meets have already made this a year that will be remembered as one of the best by a male teenage swimmer since Michael Phelps two decades ago. But more gold medals and perhaps another world record in short course would be a perfect cherry on top.

Meanwhile, Biedermann’s 200 free world record will not be the only long-lasting standard on high alert in Melbourne. Recent swims on the FINA World Cup circuit have put Shaine Casas in range of Ryan Lochte’s world record in the 200 IM, a time of 1:49.63 from the 2012 Short Course Worlds in Istanbul. No man aside from Lochte has ever eclipsed 1:50, but Casas will be gunning for that standard in a big way next month.

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2 months ago

Sates and Chalmers went under 1:41 this year already as well.

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