European Championships – Day Four Semifinals: David Popovici Cruises Into 200 Freestyle Final; Kristof Milak Eliminated

David Popovici, Kazan

European Championships – Day Four Semifinals: David Popovici Cruises Into 200 Freestyle Final; Kristof Milak Eliminated

Of the four semifinals on the docket during the fourth night of competition at the European Championships in Rome, there is no arguing which one will garner the greatest attention. Coming off his world record in the 100-meter freestyle, Romanian teenager David Popovici was back in the water for the 200 freestyle, an event in which he won the gold medal at the World Championships in June. The 200 freestyle also featured Hungarian Kristof Milak, who embraced a three-event schedule for the night at the Foro Italico.

In addition to the men’s 200 freestyle, semifinals were held in the women’s 100 butterfly, men’s 50 backstroke and women’s 200 breaststroke. Here is a look at what unfolded on Sunday night.

Men’s 200 Freestyle

As expected, Romania’s David Popovici advanced to the final as the top seed, as he won the first semifinal in 1:44.91. Popovici was controlled throughout his four laps and surely has much more to deliver in the final, which is slated for Monday night. Popovici was followed in the No. 2 position by Switzerland’s Antonio Djakovic (1:45.32) and Italian Marco De Tullio (1:45.70).

The surprise of the event was the 10th-place finish by Hungary’s Kristof Milak, who touched the wall in 1:47.37. Milak entered his semifinal just 10 minutes after winning the gold medal in the 100 butterfly, and the minimal recovery time took its toll. Earlier in the week, Milak split 1:44 on the Hungarian 800 freestyle relay.


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Women’s 100 Butterfly

France’s Marie Wattel established herself as the woman to beat in the final. Wattel clocked the only sub-57 performance of the semifinals, going 56.99 to finish ahead of Sweden’s Louise Hansson (57.54). No other athletes were under the 58-second barrier, with Germany’s Angelina Koehler the next-quickest in 58.03.

The event is missing world-record holder Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden, who is focusing on the sprints in Rome.


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Men’s 50 Backstroke

The bronze medalist in the 100 backstroke at the last three editions of the European Championships, Greece’s Apostolos Christou is in position to pick up hardware at half the distance. Christou led semifinal qualifying with a swim of 24.48, an effort that placed him comfortably ahead of the 24.65 of Italian Thomas Ceccon. Israel’s Michael Leytrovskiy moved on as the third seed, off a time of 24.74.


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Women’s 200 Breaststroke

The possibility for another Italian title exists, thanks to Martina Carraro grabbing the top seed for the final of the 200 breaststroke. Racing in the second semifinal, Carraro posted a time of 2:23.73. Lisa Mamie of Switzerland followed in the second position, thanks to a time of 2:24.04.


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