David Popovici Scratched 400 Free Final To Begin Preparation For World Juniors

2022 EUROPEAN AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS

There was a collective groan amongst swimming fans when it was announced that the star of the 2022 European Championships, David Popovici, would not be swimming the final of the men’s 400 freestyle on the last night of competition.

Coming off a pair of unbelievable performances in the men’s 100 and 200 free, including setting the world record in the former, anticipation was high for what the 17-year-old might be able to do in the 400, an event he hadn’t yet seriously pursued on the international stage.

After swimming a personal best time of 3:47.99 in the heats to advance fourth into the final, the Romanian superstar pulled out.

The reason for his withdrawal, as determined by his coach Adrian Rădulescu, was to give Popovici some recovery time before embarking on the World Junior Championships at the end of the month—his fourth major international meet of the year.

“Coach Adrian Rădulescu, along with the technical staff, decided to withdraw David Popovici from the 400m free final at the European Senior Swimming Championship in Rome,” said Romanian Swimming Federation President Camelia Potec in a statement.

“The busy schedule for the next period, the high consumption it would have had in the final and the desire to prepare as best as possible for the Junior World Championship in Lima (Peru) – a very strong competition – are the reasons that I stand by this decision.”

Rădulescu, Popovici’s longtime coach, said the primary reason for entering the 400 free was to use it as a “test” for the 100 and 200 free, but with them also putting an emphasis on World Juniors, he figured this was the right decision.

“The objective was to check ourselves at a European Senior Championship in the 400m freestyle, an important event primarily for the preparation of the other two, where the results were really brilliant, but that also came with fatigue,” Rădulescu said.

“The competition in Peru is equally important for us, where we want good results.”

In the 100 freestyle final, Popovici broke the European Record in the semi-finals with a time of 46.98 before lowering the 13-year-old world record with a swim of 46.86 in the final.

Two nights later in the 200 free, he swam to a time of 1:42.97, the fastest textile performance in history, to become the third-fastest man of all-time behind Paul Biedermann (1:42.00) and Michael Phelps (1:42.96).

Already having raced the World Championships in June, the European Junior Championships in July and the European Championships in August, Popovici will now head to the World Juniors, which will be his fourth major international competition in less than two and a half months. He also said he has designs on racing the Short Course World Championships in December.

The 2022 FINA World Junior Championships will take place from August 30 until September 4 in Lima, Peru.

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John Miranda
1 month ago

David told Brett Hawke in an interview months ago of his planned competition schedule and it indeed included Word Juniors in Peru. So, this is by no means a last minute decision or something added for strictly financial reasons.

45.9/141.9
1 month ago

347 is good enough for now

David
1 month ago

Did he also swim the heat so that he would have an entry time for juniors ?

Hank
1 month ago

It sounds like FINA offered Popovici a nice bonus to attend Junior Worlds to put it on the ratings map.

adelinamirai2022
Reply to  Hank
1 month ago

David is the captain of the national team, there are a lot of Romanian juniors, he cannot pull out of that and leave them on their own. Besides, there are very strong international juniors who will be his competitors in the future, why shouldn’t he take the measure of that as often as possible?

Axelswim
1 month ago

I don’t really get the importance of junior Worlds either. Who cares once you are the senior world champion already? I feel pity for all those young guys who’ve dreamt of a gold medal in freestyle at that meet at least..

Blackflag82
Reply to  Axelswim
1 month ago

Only thing I can think of is that he wants to try and lower these times even more…clean water and no pressure could be what he’s after

Hank
Reply to  Blackflag82
1 month ago

He wants to put the WJRs permanently out of reach. #projectimmortal

Retired Swimmer
Reply to  Axelswim
1 month ago

Every swimmer ever has dreamt of gold medals at international meets. Does it really hold as much weight if the best junior swimmer in the world isn’t there? Popovici is still eligible for the meet – nobody that understands competition can be upset about him showing up.

Alison England
Reply to  Axelswim
1 month ago

He’s still a junior, why shouldn’t he go?

Go Kamminga Go
Reply to  Axelswim
1 month ago

Ruta Meilutyte was Olympics and World champion and broke WR, and yet she still went to 2013 Junior World because it’s the only medal she hasn’t won

Big Cheese
Reply to  Axelswim
1 month ago

What if he didn’t win at Senior World’s, but still went? This seems to be a weird place to draw the line. If he’s eligible, why not go? If they want to win a gold, they need to be the best junior freestyler in that event.

John26
1 month ago

I can’t imagine him just chilling for the next 2 weeks until the meet starts, I imagine he’s going to fly to Peru, go back into moderate training for a week and then resting again?

SanAntonious
Reply to  John26
1 month ago

Sorry , i dont know anything about swimming but how hard can be to have one more try and swim 400m ? Would make any difference ? I’m sure nobody expect thim to win anyway since would only be his third official participation in 400m in last 3 years .. ?! What damage can make 1 more race ? or he doesnt like to lose ?! But as said .. nobody expect him to win here ….

Retired Swimmer
Reply to  SanAntonious
1 month ago

You should swim a 400m freestyle and find out.

ldn
Reply to  SanAntonious
1 month ago

He can now get a good heat in a good lane in Lima if he wants to race the 400 free. Before the heats today he had no 400 free time…not being in the 400 seeded heats at champs is a big big problem

R&R
Reply to  ldn
1 month ago

It wasn’t a problem for him today against a higher level of competition, why would it have been a problem at WJCs.

Christopher DeBari
Reply to  SanAntonious
1 month ago

I agree. I think its ridiculous to scratch this event when he could have medaled. What the hell is adding a 400 meter race going to do to effect your next meet unless it is the next day? And yes, I am a lifelong swimmer.

Dudeman
Reply to  SanAntonious
1 month ago

There was a documentary about Kieran Perkins back in 2000 and his coach said that when he swam some of his world record swims it took a few weeks for him to get back to normal. Obviously we’ve come a long way since then and the sprints are very different but it’s not easy to break a word record so let’s maybe give the sprinter a pass on skipping a 400 free

Hank
Reply to  John26
1 month ago

I’d like to know more about his training. It wasn’t much time , but whatever he did between Euro Jrs and Euros obviously worked. For mortal swimmers this wouldn’t be enough time to make big time drops at senior international level meets.

PowerPlay
1 month ago

Kind of odd that the World’s #1 is prioritizing a Juniors championship. But after this past week, he can do what he wants.

Swim nerd
Reply to  PowerPlay
1 month ago

The best way to think of this is just to think about the lack of chop, like that would be ridiculous

jeff
Reply to  Swim nerd
1 month ago

That’s what I thought he would be going for at Euro Jrs but looks like that was just warmup for this meet

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  PowerPlay
1 month ago

Swimming careers are short. Why wouldn’t you want that on your bio and memory bank of experiences? Not every meet is a tunnel-vision quest for a best time.

Retired Swimmer
Reply to  PowerPlay
1 month ago

Prioritizing a junior world championship over just a European championship? He probably wants another shot at the 100 and 200 in clean water. Why not grab a world title, even if only junior, as well? He is a junior after all…

Mike
Reply to  PowerPlay
1 month ago

Ruta went even to junior olympics, she wanted to win every title possible and she did

Crawler
Reply to  PowerPlay
1 month ago

Maybe he likes competing? And he gets a lot of racing experience.

Khachaturian
1 month ago

Is he swimming the 400 free in Peru?

len321
Reply to  Khachaturian
1 month ago

He should be able to win 50,100,200 and 400 kinda easy

Ken Prude
Reply to  len321
1 month ago

His 50m free isn’t that impressive. He goes 22.16, which is .41 slower than Michael Andrew’s junior record. I don’t think he’s unbeatable in the 50, especially at the world junior level.

len321
Reply to  Ken Prude
1 month ago

Popovici 22.22 was top1 junior time last season and his 22.16 is top1 junior time this season. He’s clearly unbeatable in the 50 at the world junior level

Digg It
Reply to  len321
1 month ago

Diggory Dillingham will “digg” Popovici’s grave in the 50 free in a couple of weeks. Just you wait and see. He’s the one true Dill, and Popovici is only a plain pickle.

Troyy
Reply to  Digg It
1 month ago

The guy with the horrible name will be at Junior Pan Pacs instead of Junior Worlds.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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