arena Signs Teenage Swimming Sensation David Popovici

courtesy of arena, a SwimSwam partner

Global waterwear brand arena has signed 17-year-old Romanian freestyle sensation, David Popovici, who went into the 2020 Olympics as the fastest 100m swimmer in the world in 2021 and made the finals in both 100m and 200m in Tokyo.

In July 2021, just two weeks before the Olympics, the teenager created a major buzz in the swimming world when he broke the 100m freestyle World Junior record twice at the European Junior Championships in Rome, where he swept the 50m-100m-200m events.

“Thrilled to announce that I am now an Arena athlete,” said Popovici. “I feel that it is very important for me to be able to rely on a strong partner whenever is needed. Having Arena on my side lets me focus on my goals knowing that I have the best gear available. The future shines bright!”

Born on 15th September 2004, in Bucharest, Popovici started swimming at the Lia Manoliu National Sports Complex as a youngster on the recommendation of an orthopaedic doctor in order to correct small deformities of his spine. Having started out under the guidance of coaches Bogdan Stroe and Bogdan Manea, he then perfected his technique with Doina Potolea. At the age of 9, he met Adrian Rădulescu, with whom he has been training ever since, returning consistently outstanding results.

After setting a series of national age group records, at the 2019 European Youth Olympic Festival in Baku he won gold in 100m freestyle and silvers in both 50m and 200 m freestyle. In 2020, he won national senior titles in the 100m & 200m freestyle and 200m IM, and in May 2021 at his first European Championships in Budapest, he set new national marks three times in 100m freestyle, and in so doing qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. While he didn’t get out of the 200m freestyle heats, he still managed to break the Romanian record.

He then took it to another level in Rome at the European Junior Championships just two weeks before the Olympics, as he swept the 50-100-200m freestyle events, posting an incredible time of 47.30s in 100m freestyle, the world’s fastest time of the year and a new World Junior record. Popovici’s efforts elicited praise and encouragement from champions such as Anthony Ervin, Caeleb Dressel and Kliment Kolesnikov, and prompted the suggestion in some quarters that his style was a return to “finesse” rather than raw power in freestyle sprinting.

Starting out with the 200m freestyle in Tokyo, he made it through to the final, missing out on the bronze medal by 0.02s with a personal best time of 1:44.68, setting new Romanian and European Junior records in the process. In the 100m freestyle, he qualified for the final, finishing seventh.

In November Popovici switched to the 25m pool for his first European Short Course Championships in Kazan, Russia, where he won his first major international title with the 200m freestyle gold in 1:42.12. After a measured start he worked his way methodically through field before taking the lead for the first time on the final lap, recording a 3rd consecutive personal best, and also breaking the Romanian national record.

After a season of explosive growth that has elevated him to the upper echelons of his sport, Popovici now seems destined to achieve great things. He hopes to finish off 2021 on a high at the World Short Course Championships from 16th-21st December in Abu Dhabi, where he will swim the 200m and 400m freestyle.

Major events on his horizon for 2022 include: the World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, from 13th-29th May; the European Junior Championships in Otopeni, Romania in July 2022; and the European Championships in Rome from 11th-17th August.

“We’re obviously very excited that David will be joining our Elite Team,” said arena Deputy CEO, Giuseppe Musciacchio. “He’s doing things as a 17-year-old that today’s champions weren’t getting close to, so we’re thrilled to be part of the support group that will help to nurture him carefully so that he matures at the right pace to fully realize his unique talent. His signing builds on the positive collaboration we already have with the Romanian Swimming Federation, and we are really looking forward to supporting him and his compatriots to greater successes in the pool, and to leveraging this success to further promote swimming as a positive lifestyle in our European partner countries.”

David Popovici

  • Born: 15/09/2004, Bucharest, Romania
  • Age at first Olympics (2021): 16 years, 315 days
Results 100m Freestyle 200m Freestyle
Personal Best 47.30 1:44.68
Position on list of all-time performers 11th 14th
Records World Junior, Romanian European Junior, Romanian
2020 Olympics 7th 4th
2021 European Champs – short course 10th Gold
2021 European Champs – long course 6th 20th
2021 European Junior Champs Gold Gold
2019 European Youth Olympic Champs Gold Silver

David Popovici arena Photoshoot

Photos courtesy of arena

ABOUT arena

arena has revolutionized the world of aquatic sport through insightful collaboration with world class athletes and the development of cutting edge competitive swimwear since 1973. Today, this spirit of collaboration and innovation lives on through a continuous evolution of advanced materials and Italian design that improves the performance, style and expression of all those who chose arena. From leading the lanes to living in style, arena is dedicated to providing all swimmers with the tools they need to express themselves, feel confident, win and achieve more.

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9 months ago

Bro got the fresh cut

9 months ago

still a n00b about these various rules – does this mean he couldn’t/wouldn’t do NCAA?

Reply to  THEO
9 months ago

Why would he swim in college. He isn’t even American. Fast enough to swim on international stage

Reply to  Joe
9 months ago

also NCAA is catered towards sprinters while Popovici is more of a mid-distance guy as shown by his freestyle (100 and 200 lcm and 200 and 400 scm). He just needs a long pool to race in lol.

Reply to  THEO
9 months ago

No. endorsement money is wide open. Prize money is still (mostly) off limits.

Reply to  THEO
9 months ago

He said in an interview that NCAA wasn’t for him

Reply to  THEO
9 months ago

Watch the Brett Hawke interview from a few months ago. Sounds as though it’s most likely a “no” to the NCAA route, and he mentioned it was still unclear as to whether or not he was eligible–but that problem might’ve changed with the recent NIL situation. But even if that wasn’t an issue, he seems to be happy with the current training situations in Romania. If it ain’t, broke, why fix it?

9 months ago

Popovici was a priority target for all big players in swimwear industry as all of them saw the high potential of the Romanian.
Arena made a huge deal now because they just signed the next #1 in 100/200 free.
Can’t wait to see him again in competition.

9 months ago

Interesting the news that at SCM Worlds he’ll be swimming the 400 free after that 350+50 (he miscounted the laps) in the heats at SC Euros in Kazan.

Just give the trophy to the condors already
Reply to  nuotofan
9 months ago


Reply to  nuotofan
9 months ago

His math teacher signed him up this time

Big Mac #1
9 months ago

Straight poppin

Scotty P
9 months ago

Waiting on the line of swag titled “Chlorinedaddy.”

Just give the trophy to the condors already
Reply to  Scotty P
9 months ago

Sh*t up and take my money

Reply to  Scotty P
9 months ago

i need it

Last edited 9 months ago by Coleman Hodges
9 months ago

Humongous W

Reply to  Bobthebuilderrocks
9 months ago

hugh mungus?

Last edited 9 months ago by Anonymoose
Reply to  Anonymoose
9 months ago


1650 Onetrick
Reply to  Anonymoose
9 months ago

A mongus?

9 months ago

Seems like a great fit–he’s always worn their suits, so if you can sign a suit sponsorship with the brand that has models you are used to, that is always a plus.

Also, when are they going to release for Western public sale the cap Popovici is wearing in that photo? It’s the Arena 3D Soft Wave and has been available for more than 2 years in Asian markets, and all the athletes wear it, yet we can’t get our hands on it!