FLASH! European Championships: David Popovici Sets European Record Of 46.98 In 100 Free

POPOVICI David ROU 200m Freestyle Men Final Swimming FINA 19th World Championships Budapest 2022 Budapest, Duna Arena 20/06/22 Photo Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto
David Popovici: Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

European Championships: David Popovici Sets European Record Of 46.98 In 100 Free

David Popovici set a European record of 46.98 in the 100 free to go within 0.07 of Cesar Cielo‘s world record at the European Championships in Rome.

The Romanian split 22.93/24.05 in the second semi to eclipse Kliment Kolesnikov’s time of 47.11 from the Tokyo Olympics.

Kristof Milak was second through in 47.76 with Alessandro Miressi clocking 47.96 for Saturday’s final.

Popovici though had his eyes only on one prize, the gold medal in Saturday’s final, describing his performance and outcome as “okay”.

He added:

“It’s a fine route to the final and a step towards the right direction.

“It feels normal for me to go step by step and keep improving my time.”

But all eyes were on Popovici who made his breakthrough at the 2021 European juniors at the very same Foro Italico where he was feted like a returning hero on Friday.

The teenager is now the fourth-fastest man in history all-suits and second in textile and all that at just 17.

46.91: Cesar Cielo, 2009

46.94: Alain Bernard, 2009

46.96: Caeleb Dressel, 2019

46.98: David Popovici, 2022

It really is when and not if he will lower Cielo’s world record of 46.91 set at the chaos that was the shiny-suit World Championships in 2009, held in the very same Foro Italico pool where he was given a hero’s welcome.

So too was he just 0.02 off the world textile mark of 46.96 set by Caeleb Dressel at the 2019 worlds.

The 17-year-old looked ominous in the prelims when his 47.20 was greeted with a nod and a hint of a smile.

The fastest 100 heat in history, it stood for a while as a championship mark lowering Kolesnikov’s 47.37 from the last edition in Budapest, the Russian not competing in Italy because of the ban following the invasion of Ukraine.

For a few hours, it was the second swiftest of the Romanian’s career, bettered only by his 47.13 world junior record from the World Championships in Budapest where he won the 100-200 free double.

Popovici On Records Set And Broken At The Foro Italico

David Popovici European Jnrs

David Popovici: Photo Courtesy: deepbluemedia

Popovici attended a press briefing with journalists in Rome before he began competing.

A tall, calm figure with a maturity beyond his teenage years who recognises what he needs to do to achieve his objectives in the sport – although he has yet to outline them.

He was asked specifically about the 200 free world record of 1:42.00 set by Paul Biedermann during the chaos that was July 2009.

Popovici said:

“I think it’s a little bit harder than the one in the 100, for sure.

“What Paul Biedermann did in Rome 2009 was an absolutely amazing race, a very weird race from the technical point of view.

“In terms of the splits: they were almost even splits, if not equal splits. It’s a hard record but I don’t think it’s impossible.”

Popovici will contest the 100, 200 and 400 in Italy in what is the third of his four major meets this European summer.

He won the double at the World Championships followed by the European Juniors in his native Bucharest where he won the 50, 100 and 200 free as well as gold and silver in the relays.

Following Rome, he will go to the world juniors in Lima, Peru. So, what of the seven days ahead?

“Simply, really looking forward to it,” he said.

“It will be fun, in the outdoors in this great atmosphere.

“For this year, we have accomplished what we wanted to accomplish, during the Worlds, but why stop here?

“Really, all I want to get out of this meet and out of World Juniors in Peru is simply having fun.

“The medals, the records, everything, the good times are simply a bonus. If we manage to have fun, that’s very satisfying.”

Where Pushing Yourself To The Limit Is Fun

LEN Juniors Swimming European Championship Bucharest 2022

David Popovici: Photo Courtesy: Simone Castrovillari

His has been a schedule of back-to-back competition, eclipsed only by Jacob Whittle, the British teenager one week Popovici’s junior who has competed at worlds, European juniors, Commonwealth Games and now Europeans over less than eight weeks.

It seems for Popovici though, such demands are all part of the fun that is swimming.

“Everything in sport is fun,” he said.

“Getting extremely tired and then wanting to vomit … and having all sorts of lactate problems and [a rush] of the blood to the head; that’s fine. It’s not fun at the time but after half an hour you don’t want to kill yourself anymore and you feel as if it’s all worth it.”

What is non-negotiable is what you have to do to earn these moments and beyond, according to the teenager.

When asked about his improvement over the last two years, he said:

“When a football player – Erling Haaland was asked the same question, he replied ‘hard work’.

“So, it’s just really a lot of hard work and a lot off sacrifice and it all comes down to the question of how badly do you want it; and I really do want it, badly!”