David Popovici

View Current photo via Romanian Swimming Federation/Mihai Popovici

David Popovici is a competitive swimmer who represents Romania internationally. He is the World Junior Record holder in the 100m freestyle (47.56), making him the fastest 18-Under swimmer in history at just the age of 16.

International Career

2019 European Youth Summer Olympic Festival (Baku, Azerbaijan)

Popovici jumpstarted his international career at age 14, competing in 3 events at the Euro Youth Summer Olympic Festival. He took gold in the 100 free (49.82, new meet record) while also taking silver in the 50 free (23.03) and 200 free (1:50.93).

2020 Romanian Championships (Bucharest, Romania)

Popovici made noise at his national championships in 2020, posting a 49.26 for a huge PB in the 100 free. This gave him the FINA ‘A’ cut as well as made him faster than Caeleb Dressel was at age 16.

David Popovici on the SwimSwam Podcast

Soon after these championships, SwimSwam sat down with Popovici to speak with him about his training through the COVID-19 Pandemic on an episode of the SwimSwam Podcast, which you can listen to here. In this episode, Popovici speaks on wanting to be the fastest 16-year-old in history.

2021 European Championships (Budapest, Hungary)

At his first European Championships, Popovici gained valuable racing experience while breaking two national records in the 100 and 200 free. He placed 6th in the 100 free final (48.08), 20th in the heats of the 200 free (1:48.38), and 24th in the heats of the 50 free (22.43).

About a month after the European Champs, in his home of Bucharest, Popovici stormed to a 1:46.15 200m free, re-breaking his own national record in the event by over 2 seconds. The 16-year-old also posted a 22.60 in the 50m free that weekend.

2021 European Jr Championships (Rome, Italy)

In the last competition before his first Olympic Games, Popovici started things off with a bang by lowering the world junior record in the men’s 100 freestyle to a 47.56 during a 4×100 freestyle relay leadoff.

The swim was an improvement upon Andrei Minakov‘s former world junior record in the event of 47.57 from 2020. Minakov was actually out faster in his world junior record-breaking swim, opening with a 22.84 compared to Popovici’s 23.07.

Split Comparison:

50m 23.07 22.84
100m 24.49 (47.56) 24.73 (47.57)


Interestingly Popovici shaved only 0.01 seconds off Minakov’s previous record which is the same narrow margin that Minakov lowered the record by in 2020. Minakov’s 47.57 was only 0.01 seconds quicker than the 47.58 mark that Kyle Chalmers set to win gold at Rio 2016.

Popovici took the world junior record and the European junior record from Minakov and also lowered the European Junior Championships record of 48.32 which he set while swimming the leadoff of the relay during prelims.

After cruising through prelims (49.50) and semis (48.08), Popovici popped off in finals to lower his record even further, touching the wall at 47.30, not only dropping .26 but making him the top seed heading into the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Popovici continued his impressive meet in the 200 free, cruising through prelims before dropping a 1:45.26 in semi-finals, coming very close to the world junior record of 1:44.96. He won the event the next night, clocking a 1:45.9 just minutes after swimming the semi-final of the 50 free. He would go on to win the 50 free as well the next night in 22.22.

2020 Olympic Games

Popovici had a strong start to his first Olympic Games, moving through the prelims and semis in the 200 free to make the final. Swimming out of lane 1, Popovici swam out in front from the start, ultimately touching 4th in a huge personal best of 1:44.68, just missing a medal by .02.

Best Times

Course Event Time Date Meet
lcm 50 Free 22.22 07/11/21 2021 European Jr Championships
Rome, Italy
lcm 100 Free 47.30 07/08/21 2021 European Jr Championships
Rome, Italy
lcm 200 Free 1:44.68 07/26/21 2020 Olympic Games
Tokyo, Japan
David Popovici, photo: Tudor Pirvu Romanian Swimming Federation/Mihai Popovici swimming, nuoto LEN European Junior Swimming Championships 2021 Rome 20427 Stadio Del Nuoto Foro Italico Photo Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto