2023 ROMANIAN CUP
David Popovici scratched the 200-meter freestyle final on Sunday, but the 2023 Romanian Cup still wrapped up with some impressive performances during the last session in Otopeni.
Popovici, the 18-year-old world junior record holder in the 200 free (1:42.97), clocked a 1:47.39 in prelims before skipping the final, where Gergely Mihai won in 1:51.01. Popovic and his coach have said they didn’t have any goals for this meet because they just returned to regular training following last month’s Baccalaureate exam. Popovici will reportedly attend the Sette Colli Trophy later this month in Rome for one final tune-up before next month’s World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.
In other action from the third night of racing, Henrietta Fangli touched first in the women’s 50 breaststroke final with a time of 32.23, lowering her Romanian national record of 32.35 from April’s Romanian Championships. The 22-year-old rising University of Houston junior was less than a second off her national record in the 100 breast during her win on Saturday (1:10.12).
Vlad Stefan Stancu took on another monster double and once again came home with a pair of victories. After triumphing in the 200 butterfly (2:00.16) and 1500 free (15:32.87) on Saturday, the 17-year-old showed off his versatility by picking up wins in the 400 IM (4:18.70) and 800 free (7:59.80). In the 400 IM, Stancu matched his Romanian national record of 4:18.70 from last year’s Romanian Cup. In the 800 free, he was about five seconds off his best time from last July’s European Junior Championships, where he secured a silver medal in the event. He totaled five wins this weekend with another victory in the 400 free (3:47.17) on Friday that moved him up to 17th in the world rankings this season.
Brigitta Vass kicked off Sunday’s finals session with a huge new lifetime best in the 400 IM. The 16-year-old placed first in 4:55.96, dropping nearly four seconds off her previous-best 4:59.80 from the Romanian Championships in April. Vass has shaved almost nine seconds off her best time since last year’s Romanian Cup, when she went 5:04.24.
The women’s 200 free final turned out to be the tightest race of the evening, with 17-year-old Ioana Maria Stirbu (2:03.39) just barely out-touching Maysa Ratiu (2:03.40) by .01 seconds. Stirbu was almost a full second faster than her time from April’s Romanian Championships (2:04.35).
The women’s 50 fly final was nearly as close, though, with 28-year-old Alexandra Bogdaneci eking out the win in 27.62, just .02 seconds ahead of Eva Maria Paraschiv (27.64). Bogdaneci was .24 seconds faster than her time from April’s Romanian Championships. In the men’s 50 fly, Daniel Christian Martin (24.55) edged Denis Laurean Popescu (24.61) by just .05 seconds. Just a couple events earlier, Popescu prevailed in the 100 back with a winning time of 54.87, improving on his previous-best from April’s Romanian Championships by .18 seconds.
Aissia Claudia Prisecariu posted a personal-best 1:01.69 in the women’s 100 back final to claim victory in the event at just 15 years old. For perspective, her time would rank 54th in the U.S. girls’ 15-16 national age group (NAG) rankings. Prisecariu shaved a couple tenths off her previous-best 1:01.95 from April’s Romanian Championships.
19-year-old Emil Dancanet also set a personal best during his men’s 50 breast victory in 28.38, dropping a tenth off his previous best from April’s Romanian Championships. 15-year-old Diana Gabriela Stiger just barely missed her lifetime best in the 800 free during her victory in 8:57.89. Her best time still stands at 8:57.75 from April’s Romanian Championships.