David Popovici Takes Double Gold At Antwerp Diamond Race


  • March 23rd & March 24th
  • Antwerp, Belgium
  • LCM (50m)
  • Results

This year’s edition of the annual Antwerp Diamond Speedo Race wrapped up over the weekend with former world record holder David Popovici among the contenders.

19-year-old Popovici of Romania raced in the men’s 100m and 200m freestyle events, reaping gold across each.

In the 100m, Popovici put up a time of 48.34 to top the podium, registering one of two sub-49-second times in the field.

Sean Niewold of the Netherlands clocked 48.89 as the silver medalist while Stan Pijnenburg hit 49.67 to claim the bronze. Niewold was slightly quicker in the morning with an AM swim of 48.69.

Popovici has been as fast as 48.01 in this event, courtesy of his performance at January’s Luxembourg Euro Meet. That ranks the teen 8th in the world.

Niewold’s effort was just off his career-best 48.52 notched at the Rotterdam Qualification Meet last November.

The men’s 200m free also fell victim to Popovici, with the Romanian posting a time of 1:46.51. He opened in 52.29 and closed in 54.22 to earn the sole time of the pack under 1:50.

Popovici was also quicker in this longer event at the Euro Meet, turning in a season-best 1:46.19.

Popovici owns lifetime bests of 46.86 in the 100m free and 1:42.97 in the 200m free. The former stood as the world record from the 2022 European Championships until this year’s World Championships where China’s Pan Zhanle dropped it down to 46.80.

Popovici remains the European record holder in the 100m and his 200m free PB renders him the #3 performer of all time worldwide.

Additional Notes

  • Reigning world champion Marrit Steenbergen won the women’s 100m free in a time of 53.50, beating the field by over a second. The 24-year-old Dutch star topped the podium in this event in Doha, producing a personal best of 52.26.
  • Steenbergen also won the women’s 200m free in a time of 1:57.98, the only result of the field under 2:00. She’s been as fast as 1:55.51 in her career from the 2023 World Championships.
  • Roos Vanotterdijk of Belgium hit 59.45 as the women’s 100m fly gold medalist.
  • World Championships finalist Nyls Korstanje checked in at 52.07 to win the men’s 100m butterfly. In Doha, Korstanje produced a time of 51.41 to place 4th in the final.

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1 month ago

From the romanian nationals today 200 free:
Q: 1:47.41 (this morning)
F: 1:45:10 (this afternoon)

24.98, 51.95, 1:18:86, 1:45:10

Last edited 1 month ago by Alex
David S
1 month ago

He’ll get silver in 100 and bronze is 200 in Paris.

Reply to  David S
1 month ago

If he swims anywhere near his PB in the 200 he’s getting gold foresure

1 month ago

Popovici knows what he needs to do to return to 2022 form. It is not glamorous and entails hard work and swimming pedestrian times in season, but he can also have some fun and toy around with his splitting in the process. He has his eyes set on the big prize in Paris now. I wouldn’t bet against him.

Last edited 1 month ago by Hank
Zsombor Czoma
Reply to  Hank
1 month ago

I think you are right because all the pressure is off.

Why do I say this?

– He is no longer the reigning World Champion in either of his signature events.
– His WR has been broken.
– He also experienced what falling from the top is like (which sounds ridiculous if you put into perspective that an 18 year old (at the time) is the 4th best swimmer in the world of an event. But the standards are different if you want to be great).

This is a blessing in disguise. These titles bring huge pressure along with them. No longer having them results in a free-er (don’t know if that is a word) spiritual state.… Read more »

Reply to  Zsombor Czoma
1 month ago

I totally agree with this perspective, but I know nothing of his process. However, there’s a saying “Don’t change what works” So hopefully it is just a matter of more training volume and linear improvement for Popovici and not trying to solve a puzzle.

Reply to  Zsombor Czoma
1 month ago

I don’t fully agree with you. Having free blank state without prior experience of a great fail and having no pressure after fail are different states. In the second case there is no pressure only if there is no fear of failing again at a major meet (which when present can create even bigger pressure). Did he manage to overcome the fail experience? We will see soon.

Reply to  Zsombor Czoma
1 month ago

I think he still faces significant pressure in Romania. He may no longer be the top dog, but he’s still a celebrity at home. Also, I wonder if he had a growth spurt. He seems too thin nowadays. He talked about striking a balance between how much muscle mass he has vs. how much he weighs. But a growth spurt can throw that balance out of whack and maybe his team hasn’t yet found the new sweet spot.

1 month ago

If I had to place bets, I would put him as a medallist in the 100 and gold medallist in the 200.

1 month ago

Will Caesar’s take action on the Olympics or is that against the rules?

Reply to  Hank
1 month ago

I don’t know as I’m not into betting. It was just figurative.

Emma Eckean
1 month ago

I have hope for David but kind of feels the time is running out for 2024…
In 2022 he was swimming 47’s in training almost…and culminated in two 46’s performances in Rome. I wish we had David, Pan, Dressel, Chalmers and Kolesnikov all swimming in the Paris final in peak shape…

Reply to  Emma Eckean
1 month ago

I don’t recall him going sub 48 until Worlds in 2022. His in season best times before Worlds that year were about the same as this year.

1 month ago

Papovici is washed

Reply to  MA 200 IM GOLD IN PARIS
1 month ago

And you are a never was.

Reply to  MA 200 IM GOLD IN PARIS
1 month ago

With a name like MA 200IM Gold in Paris how do you expect us to take you seriously?

1 month ago

To be fair, SwimSwam’s verb choice has been bad since before the prevalence of ChatGPT.

Gulliver’s Swimming Travels
1 month ago

I agree. The writing in this sounds like my students’ AI essay assignments.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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