World Championships: David Popovici Lowers WJR to 47.13 in Caeleb Dressel-Less 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
Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

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World Championships: David Popovici Lowers WJR to 47.13 in Caeleb Dressel-Less 100 Free

The collision of the world’s top 50 freestyler and the world’s best 200 freestyler … will have to wait.

David Popovici lowered his world junior record in the men’s 100 free, escalating his chase for Cesar Cielo’s world record and taking the top seed for the final. Popovici won a very fast second heat in 47.13, 0.17 seconds quicker than his world junior mark from July. He is circling the record set in 2009 by Cielo at 46.91.

Second heading to the final is Maxime Grousset of France, who won the first semifinal heat in 47.53. Josh Liendo of Canada was third in 47.55 with Lewis Burras setting a British record in fourth in 47.63.

The final spot in the final was decided via swim-off, with Hungary’s Nandor Nemeth using the home-pool advantage. He blasted a Hungarian record 47.69 to edge Italy’s Lorenzo Zazzeri by .35 seconds, chipping 0.12 seconds off his national mark from the Tokyo Olympics.

The drama in the 100 free semifinals came after the morning session, when Caeleb Dressel withdrew from the event for what USA Swimming termed medical reasons. The Tokyo Olympic champion and two-time reigning World Champion had set the second-fastest time in prelims at 47.95. Dressel will also miss out on the mixed medley relay. His status for later events at the meet is unknown.

Dressel’s withdrawal allowed Sunwoo Hwang to get into the semifinals as an alternate. He had tied for 17th in the morning with Australian Zac Incerti, who apparently also scratched. (Hwang was fourth in the first semifinal to finish 10th overall.)

The 100 free is a field that, as Paris nears, is squarely in flux. Dressel’s top challengers in the 50 free are increasingly veterans heavily specialized in the shorter distances – Florent Manaudou, Bruno Fratus, Ben Proud. That leaves the pressure to dethrone the all-purpose sprint champ coming from the higher distances.

If the 200 free was any indication, the changing of the guard is well underway. Popovici made history as the first Romanian man to win a world title, all before his 18th birthday. Hwang, the silver medalist in that event, also packs an impressive 100 free. He and Popovici were fifth and seventh, respectively, in Tokyo last year in the 100.

Add in the teenage Liendo of Canada and relatively young American Brooks Curry, and the talent is bubbling up at this first Worlds of the Paris Olympic cycle.

The event in Budapest was missing out on a pair of Tokyo Olympic medalists in Kyle Chalmers, who opted out of the event at Worlds, and Kliment Kolesnikov, with Russia banned from the meet. The fastest qualifier in prelims in Tokyo, Italy’s Thomas Ceccon, didn’t swim the 100 free in Budapest, which he pretty well made up for in other areas, to be fair.

Grousset took control of the first semifinal, leading the way in 47.54. Second was Nemeth, to the delight of the home crowd, with Andrej Barna third. Barnaj didn’t make the final, though, thanks to the speed brandished by the second heat. Chinese youngster Zhanle Pan is fifth in the final, followed by Italy’s Alessandro Miressi and Curry.

Barras took down the British record of 47.87 that had belonged to Tom Dean. Barras buzzed within .01 of the mark at British trials.

M100freesemi

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