How David Popovici Evolved into the Fastest 16-year-old in History

In the SwimSwam Podcast dive deeper into the sport you love with insider conversations about swimming. Hosted by Coleman HodgesGarrett McCaffrey, and Gold Medal Mel Stewart, SwimSwam welcomes both the biggest names in swimming that you already know, and rising stars that you need to get to know, as we break down the past, present, and future of aquatic sports.

We sat down with David Popovici, the 16-year-old who set the pool on fire this summer at a variety of meets, ultimately ending with personal bests of 47.3 in the 100m free and 1:44.6 in the 200m free as well as finaling in both events at the 2020 Olympic Games. Popovici dissects all of his biggest meets this summer, talking through his mental growth and how each opportunity set him up for the next.

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PFA
1 year ago

Similar to Michael I think David is on the verge of doing similar things to the sport of swimming that Michael did. He’s only 16 but there’s a lot of similarities between the two and I think just barely missing the podium here like Michael did in 2000 just fuels the fire to be the best. I’m really excited to see how everything plays out over the next few years leading up to Paris. This is the most competitive swimming has been in nearly a decade and I feel we’re going through another Revolution in the sport.

PVK
Reply to  PFA
1 year ago

Big question in my mind: will Popovici continue to develop into a great 100/200 specialist, or will he expand his schedule? He mentioned that he trains for all sorts of events–not just freestyle. Does anyone know if he has times in fly and backstroke?

Yabo
1 year ago

We see all these click baity articles just to get redirected to the podcast, don’t get me wrong I love the podcast, but sometimes I’d rather read than watch something. Would be nice to include at least a little summary and a couple quotes for those of us who are on swimswam but can’t watch a 53 minute video at the time.

john26
Reply to  Yabo
1 year ago

Those of us who have long commutes and still have Olympics related podcasts left to enjoy vehemently disagree.

SHRKB8
1 year ago

Woah, sounds like one hell of a guy…. especially considering he is still 16. Difficult to get 2 coherent sentences from most 16 yr olds let alone discuss in depth with maturity the content discussed in this podcast. I was in awe of his sporting achievements before this podcast and now even more impressed with him as a human in general.

“God speed” to him, open all our eyes to new possibilities in the near future 🙌.

Coach Macgyver
1 year ago

P&P Coleman and Popovici. I would love to see one of his training sessions.

DJTrockstoYMCA
1 year ago

He needs some Tennessee English!

Hank
1 year ago

Why did he peak at Euro Juniors and not the Olympics?

Distance Per Stroke
Reply to  Hank
1 year ago

On Brett Hawkes podcast he said he didn’t even know he was going to the Olympics before that meet so fully tapered for Euros, and just held the taper after Euros to then.

Hank
Reply to  Distance Per Stroke
1 year ago

That makes sense. Thanks

jeff
Reply to  Hank
1 year ago

stress/pressure too probably, its a lot easier to focus on your own race when you know that you’ll obliterate the competition

Troyy
Reply to  Hank
1 year ago

He PB’d in the 200 at the Olympics.

Last edited 1 year ago by Troyy
Hank
Reply to  Troyy
1 year ago

Event order was different than Euro Jrs? I think 200fr was after the 100fr at Euro Jrs. He must have been spent from those efforts.

Mikeh
1 year ago

Those times are amazing for someone who presumably has not yet finished growing. Hopefully he’ll keep improving, And isn’t doing an over abundance of speed and power work yet. Would love to see him and his competitors push the 100 free into places hitherto unknown.

Teddy
1 year ago

So what does everyone think he goes next year?

Ragnar
Reply to  Teddy
1 year ago

Sub 1:44 and 47.1. Or a 1:42.9, breaking the textile record, and a 46.9, pushing Caeleb and Kyle to a sub 46.8 WR. No limit to him honestly

Teddy
Reply to  Ragnar
1 year ago

I’m starting to feel a bit like Chalmers and Dressel are capped out at 46.9

Kilisnikov and this guy seems like they might extend the record down to 46.5-46.8 over the next quad

Ragnar
Reply to  Teddy
1 year ago

You are right, especially Kyle with his injury history. Caeleb and Kyle will probably peak at or by 2024, but a perfect race from both of them still feels like a 46.7-46.8. Caeleb having won Olympic golds ought to get him in a much less stressful place, this was kinda like Phelps 2004 in many ways for him.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Ragnar
1 year ago

Dressel will be 28 in 2024. Of recent Olympic gold medalists in the event, you’re projecting he’d be the oldest by a couple of years: Popov 25, PVDH 26, Bernard 25, Adrian 24, Chalmers 18, Dressel 24. I’ll give him the 50 free until he’s 30 or more, but the 100 is a different story. He may peak at Worlds, but unlikely for 2024. I think he’s peaked in the 100 free.

Caleb
Reply to  Ragnar
1 year ago

24 y/o vs. 19 y/o isn’t a great comparison. I do think Caeleb has a few time drops in store, but I wonder if he might need to change or lighten his program a little.

Last edited 1 year ago by Caleb
PVK
Reply to  Caleb
1 year ago

Complete speculation of course, but in my opinion Dressel could benefit by dropping a relay from his major international meet program—perhaps the mixed medley. I think Dressel has one big swim (from a time perspective) left in him in both the 50 and 100 free. He doesn’t want to retire without having broken 21.00 and 46.91. But I’ve always thought his ceiling is highest in the 50 free. He is theoretically capable of 20.7-20.8. At 25m he looks on track for something otherworldly like 20.5 (as Cesar Cielo has noted). Maybe Caeleb will stick around until 2028 & 2032 and swim the 50 free. Dude will probably be able to drop a 21.5 at age 40.

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Teddy
1 year ago

Not sure it will happen next year. He needs to get bigger and stronger and more relevant at launch. That’s what stood out at Tokyo. He was dwarfed and quickly playing catchup. But very logical at 16. Popovici drew a lot of late betting action. He was double digit odds in the 100 then bet down to second choice at 3/1 in some spots. I didn’t understand that type of optimism, once the discrepancy at launch was so evident in the heats. That is a big man power event.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
1 year ago

I’m all for bigger and stronger, and then I look at what happened to Ryan Murphy when he decided to become Hulk. As for big man-power event, I wouldn’t say Popov, PVDH, or 18 year old Chalmers were exactly the Alain Bernards and Nathan Adrians of the event.

Daeleb Creseel
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 year ago

Adrian wasn’t that big when he won gold in London

About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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