FLASH! David Popovici Sets 200 Free Textile World Record Of 1:42.97

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

FLASH! David Popovici Sets 200 Free Textile World Record Of 1:42.97

David Popovici continued his record-breaking bull run when he lowered the 200 free textile world mark to 1:42.97 at the European Championships in Rome.

The 17-year-old set a world record of 46.86 in the 100 free on Saturday to slice 0.05 from Cesar Cielo’s mark of 46.91 that had stood since the height of the shiny-suit chaos that was the 2009 worlds.

The Romanian returned for the final of the 200 on Monday and sliced 0.17secs from the mark of 1:43.14 that had stood to Yannick Agnel since 2012 en-route to the Olympic title in London. It was also a world junior record.

Out under Paul Biedermann’s world-record pace in 24.10, Popovici split 50.35 (26.25)/1:16.96 (26.61) before coming home in 26.01.

Only Biedermann with his shiny-suit WR of 1:42.00 at the Foro Italico and Michael Phelps with his 1:42.96 at Beijing 2008 have bettered the teenager’s time, the 28-time Olympic champion by just 0.01secs.

It means the teenager holds both the world and European 100 and 200 free double and is among a troop of young European men also including Leon Marchand, Kristof Milak and Lorenzo Galossi among others who are threatening to take their events into new territories.

Antonio Djakovic of Switzerland was second in 1:45.60 with Austria’s Felix Auboeck third in 1:45.89.

Draped in the Romania flag, Popovici made his way round the Foro Italico poolside following the medal ceremony.

Such was the demand for interviews, he responded to every TV crew and media outlet from all over the world.

Tired, he eventually was given a chair and conducted interviews from there, the young king on his throne albeit a white plastic one in the mixed zone.

He said there had been no specific time in mind and added:

“The only advice my coach gave me when I asked him about a race plan this afternoon – he said ‘just do something crazy’.

“I think it’s crazy enough what I did.

“I am satisfied – don’t I look satisfied? I am very satisfied – we all are – it was a good race. I’m happy with it.

“I was extremely tired. I’ve had races in which I was a lot more tired than this one but this one really killed me a little, it was hard, it’s not an easy thing to do.

“It put its toll on me, I guess that’s the experience.”

Popovici Unaware Of The Glare Of The Spotlight

Popovici has become something of a celebrity in Romania over the past few months, the attention intensifying as his irresistible rise continues.

That escalated after he claimed double gold at the worlds in Budapest: some attention he ignores and at other times he disguises himself in a cap, mask and sunglasses.

It’s fair to say the spotlight will have become even more of a glare back home although having chosen to take a social media break – rare indeed for one of his generation – means Popovici is unaware of his impact on sport and beyond.

“The true and honest answer is I don’t know because I haven’t checked anything social media-related and so all the recognition I’ve had and seen is only from here which is okay, I can take it because it comes with being good of course.

“I don’t really know the impact I have in Romania right now or in the world of swimming: I can only see what’s around me but I will at some point get to see the impact I had on the internet and social media and all around the world.

“I can’t wait to see it – I’m not nervous but excited to see it.”

Teen A Keen Student Of The Sport

David Popovici

David Popovici: Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli/Deepbluemedia

The Foro Italico witnessed 43 world records fall during the 2009 World Championships at the height of the shiny-suit era.

Popovici consigned Cielo’s to history in the 100 and came within 0.97 of Biedermann’s four-length mark – inside the latter at the 50 before the line began to get away from him.

Biedermann split 24.23/25.89/26.18 before coming home in 25.7 to destroy Phelps’ WR back in 2009.

The young Romanian described that race as “weird” before the programme started, his being far more consistent if not metronomic in the 26 range before coming home in 26.01.

A student of the sport, Popovici said of the shiny suits that so distorted the landscape:

“I think it helped mentally a tremendous lot – sure, them knowing they have a lot of material on them that makes them slide faster through water I think really helped them mentally.”

He left the field trailing down that last 50, decimated by the way he attacked it.

“The last length is my speciality in the 100 and the 200 so I kind of knew I was going to leave them a little behind, that was something I expected.”

Up next is the 400 free, an event he has rarely contested although no doubt his performances in training have indicated him at least making a challenge to established eight-length swimmers.

Among those waiting is Lorenzo Galossi, the 16-year-old who won silver behind Popovici in the 200 at the European juniors.

The young Italian went on to win the 400 and 800 in Bucharest – Popovici’s hometown – and has a best of 3:45.93 in the 400 from the national championships in April, a month before he turned 16.

And the prospect of Galossi – bronze medallist in the 800 this week – and Popovici meeting in the 400 is an exciting one.

Of whether he is ready for the 4, Popovici said:

“I’m not sure – it’s the weirdest race I’m going to do this week because I have no experience. I think I’ve only swum it three times in my life and that was at small meets.

“But it’s a good place to start and it’s a good place to see if I am bad or good.”

Sitting on his throne, his calm was commented upon. Was he like that inside?

“If I was to put on a front and I wasn’t really that calm and I was actually shaking on the inside, I think you’d see it under pressure.

“I think that’s when you can’t really hide it anymore and it might happen but that’s not the case right now.”


  1. David Popovici (ROU); 1:42.97
  2. Antonio Djakovic (SUI); 1:45.60
  3. Felix Aubock (AUT); 1:45.89
  4. Marco de Tullio (ITA); 1:46.37
  5. Danys Rapsys (LTU); 1:46.48
  6. Stefano di Cola (ITA); 1:46.74
  7. Lukas Maertens (GER); 1:46.80
  8. Dimitros Markos (GRE); 1:48.05

For full results & splits, click here

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