Later this month, David Popovici will return to the same Italian pool where he broke the 100-meter freestyle world record last August for the 59th edition of the Sette Colli Trophy in Rome.
After winning the 100-meter butterfly (52.45) at the Romanian Cup in Otopeni on Friday, the 18-year-old Romanian superstar hinted at “a very important competition… coming up at the end of June.” Now Romanian media is reporting that meet to be the 2023 Sette Colli Trophy held from June 23-25 at the Foro Italico swimming stadium. It marks one last opportunity for Popovici and others to prove themselves before the World Championships next month in Fukuoka, Japan.
Popovici has raced twice so far this year, first at the Romanian National Championships in April and then at this weekend’s Romanian Cup. In between the two meets, he turned his attention toward his academic studies for the Baccalaureate exam, which he passed last month during a special testing session for Olympic students from May 15-25.
“Now that I’m done with high school, I could say that I’m taking the step into adult life,” Popovici said. “It’s as if higher education, from college, means something else. I have to live my life, start taking responsibility, grow up. You can never stop learning and I never want to forget that.”
“We have adapted our training program in recent weeks in accordance with the Baccalaureate exam calendar and preparation for it,” Radulescu said. “It was a different experience, I found that we can have the necessary flexibility, and this will help him in the future sessions that he will navigate as a student.”
The Sette Colli Trophy is an annual three-day meet that takes place every June, but the event wasn’t held last summer due to the busy international racing schedule. This year, big-name Italian swimmers such as Thomas Ceccon, Benedetta Pilato, Gregorio Paltrinieri, Simona Quadarella, and Nicolo Martinenghi are expected to be in attendance. Ceccon or national record holder Alessandro Miressi could give Popovici some competition in the 100 free, but no swimmer went sub-48 seconds at the last edition of the Sette Colli Trophy in 2021.
At this time last year, Popovici was 48.11 in the 100 free at the Multinations Junior Meet before his breakout performance at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, where he won gold medals in both the 100 free (47.58) and 200 free (1:43.21).