Swimming World October 2021 Presents – Expect Great Things From New Kid On The Block David Popovici

Swimming World October 2021 Presents - David Popovici - Expect Great Things
At the European Junior Championships, Popovici claimed titles in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyles with times of 22.22, 47.30 and 1:45.95. His 100 free was a world junior record and vaulted him to No. 1 in the world entering the Olympics. [Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto]

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Expect Great Things From New Kid On The Block David Popovici

By John Lohn

David Popovici just turned 17 years old, but the Romanian sprint freestyler appears poised to follow a path to prominence.

Let’s play a game. It’s the 2024 Olympic Games, the French capital of Paris serving as the focal point of the sporting world. Three years after the COVID-19 pandemic forced a spectator-free Games in Tokyo, boisterous fans have returned to the venues. Fittingly, in the shadow of the Louvre, masterpieces have been crafted across a variety of events.

On this particular summer night, a 19-year-old stands behind the starting blocks, awaiting the start of the final of the 100 meter freestyle. The past two Olympic champions in the event, American Caeleb Dressel and Australian Kyle Chalmers, are also preparing themselves for the battle ahead. A world record might be necessary for gold.

The aforementioned teenager is calm. He doesn’t get rattled. But he also recognizes the enormity of the moment, and how it could define his career. Having been an international factor for several years, including at the 2022 and 2023 editions of the World Championships, being crowned Olympic champion is the target.

Will David Popovici get the job done? The future will provide that answer.

What is known is this: As we shift our attention from the Tokyo Olympics to the Paris Games, Popovici is a major figure in the sport, his impact just beginning to be felt. As the years tick away toward the 33rd Olympiad, expect his influence to grow—even if the details of his tale are somewhat unusual.

The truth is, Popovici’s presence as an elite performer doesn’t make sense. Well, that assessment might be a little strong. Still, seeing him rank among the elite freestylers on the planet—and on track for greatness—is startling for a couple of reasons:

• Popovici hails from a country without a rich track record of success in the sport. While Romania has produced a handful of female Olympic medalists, Razvan Florea is the only man from his country to stand on an Olympic podium. Florea accomplished the feat at the 2004 Games in Athens with a bronze medal in the 200 back.

• The kid just turned 17 years old in mid-September. Despite the presence of Michael Phelps and Ian Thorpe as teen prodigies, it is rare for a male that young to emerge as a global force—especially in a power event such as the 100 freestyle. Typically, success comes later, when muscle has been enhanced.

Then again, the great ones tend to disrupt the norm, and Popovici certainly has the skill set—physically and mentally—to etch a special career. And watching it develop is going to be a whole lot of fun.

EMERGING ONTO THE WORLD STAGE
Most of the athletes at the European Junior Championships, held in early July in Rome, viewed the competition as their primary competition of the year. For Popovici, the meet was a tuneup for the Olympics, an opportunity to set the groundwork for Tokyo. Over a six-day stretch, Popovici certainly made his name known—and generated significant momentum for his Games debut.

Racing at the famed Foro Italico, Popovici claimed European junior crowns in the 50 freestyle (22.22), 100 free (47.30) and 200 free (1:45.95). It was the middle distance in which Popovici shined brightest, as his winning mark not only established a world junior record, but vaulted him to No. 1 in the world entering the Olympics. That quickly, Popovici transformed from an intriguing prospect to a legitimate medal contender on the biggest stage in the sport.

The way Popovici managed his junior-record swim was stunning, as he went out in 22.97 and came home in an eye-popping 24.33. Around the sport, athletes, coaches and fans were mesmerized by the Romanian youngster’s closing speed—as good as ever seen in the event.

Eventually, that finishing power is likely to be complemented by early speed, the combination leaving Popovici as a major threat to the likes of Dressel and Chalmers…and the 47-second barrier.

“I think there are layers to him,” said two-time Australian Olympian Brett Hawke, who has interviewed Popovici several times on his podcast. “I think the first thing that has to be there is a freaky gift, and he has a gift. He has a physique like a young basketball player.

Huge hands. Huge feet. He’s physically built differently. Then you have his feel for the water. When you watch him swim, he has an Anthony Ervin feel. He is one in a million. He has this ability to put his hand in the water and be unlike any other swimmer. He has a natural, aquatic feel. He’s Steph Curry shooting a 3-pointer. You can’t replicate it. You can try, but you can’t. And when you add everything up, he has something special.”

To read more about David Popovici and what’s next on his horizon,
Click here to download the full October issue of Swimming World Magazine, available now!



Swimming World October 2021 - David Popovici - New Kid On The Block - COVER
[PHOTO BY GEORGIO SCALIA / DEEPBLUEMEDIA]

 

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FEATURES

010 THE OLYMPIC “QUADRENNIUM:” A LOOK BACK AND A LOOK AHEAD
by David Rieder
Swimming World reflects on the last five years since the last Olympic Games in Rio and ponders the questions that lie ahead during the next three years leading up to Paris 2024.

014 A CANADIAN SURGE
by Matthew De George
Swimmers from Canada exceeded expectations at the Tokyo Games. And the Canadian delegation showed that the future is as bright as the present, with prolific young talents on both sides of the competition.

020 ISHOF FEATURE: AQUATOTS MURDER CASE—THE KATHY TONGAY STORY (Part 1)
by Bruce Wigo
It is doubtful that in the annals of aquatic history, there has ever been an example of abusive parents like the story of “little Kathy Tongay.”

024 EXPECT GREAT THINGS!
by John Lohn
David Popovici just turned 17 years old, but the Romanian sprint freestyler appears poised to follow a path to prominence.

031 NUTRITION: KNOW THYSELF
by Dawn Weatherwax
Knowing your body composition can help you swim fast and stay healthy.

COACHING

029 BASIC DRYLAND TRAINING
by Michael J. Stott
A concentrated, ongoing strength and conditioning regimen provides a quality supplement to in-pool training, helping swimmers become stronger and faster. Coaches Ron and Rich Blanc of Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Southern California share last season’s dryland training schedule that helped his girls’ and boys’ teams become national powers.

030 WEIGHT ROOM COMMON SENSE
by J.R. Rosania

These “Do’s and Dont’s” are courtesy of exercise scientist J.R. Rosania, whose performance enhancement firm Healthplex serves multisport athletes worldwide.

034 SWIMMING TECHNIQUE CONCEPTS: MAXIMIZING SWIMMING VELOCITY (Part 5): MINIMIZING THE ARM RECOVERY PHASE
by Rod Havriluk
The greatest possible time decreases for additional swimming velocity increases are in the non-propulsive phases (entry and recovery). This article includes strategies to minimize the recovery phase time of all four strokes.

045 Q&A WITH COACHES RON & RICH BLANC
by Michael J. Stott

046 HOW THEY TRAIN MAGGIE McGUIRE & JACK NUGENT
by Michael J. Stott

TRAINING

033 DRYSIDE TRAINING: BACK TO BASICS (Part 1)
by J.R. Rosania

JUNIOR SWIMMER

044 UP & COMERS: MARYJANE (MJ) NEILSON
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COLUMNS & SPECIAL SECTIONS

008 A VOICE FOR THE SPORT

009 DID YOU KNOW: ABOUT FAMOUS GUYS WHO GOLF?

016 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

036 PREP SCHOOL DIRECTORY`

048 GUTTERTALK

049 PARTING SHOT

 
 

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