How Rare Is It For Swimmers To Hold World & World Junior Titles Simultaneously?

by Daniel Takata 65

September 08th, 2022 International, News, SwimmingStats

David Popovici has completed a perfect long course season.

From June to September, the Romanian standout won every single individual final he raced at the World Championships (100, 200 free), World Junior Championships (100, 200 free), European Championships (100, 200 free) and European Junior Championships (50, 100, 200 free). Along the way, he became the world record holder in the men’s 100 freestyle.

Additionally, he became one of the few swimmers to hold junior and senior world long course titles simultaneously. It is a very short list, as shown by Swimming Stats’ Instagram.

Not only that, but Popovici is the only swimmer to hold junior and senior titles in TWO events (100 and 200 freestyle), and the only male swimmer to win junior and senior titles in the same year.

The only other swimmer who won gold medals at both the World Championships and World Junior Championships in the same year at the same event is Ruta Meilutyte. The Lithuanian won the women’s 100 breaststroke at the 2013 Worlds in Barcelona and then one month later, at the World Junior Championships in Dubai.

(In fact, Meilutyte is the only swimmer in history who won the World, World Junior, European, European Junior and Olympic Youth titles – the latter is the one Popovici have not won.)

The World Junior Championships debuted in 2006, and have occurred during the same year as the World Championships every year since 2011 (the last six editions).

Besides Meilutyte and Popovici, every other swimmer on the list won junior and senior titles in different years. But they managed to hold the titles at the same time. This is possible, since the World Junior Championships are usually held a few weeks after the World Championships, and some swimmers arrive at the World Championships as the last world junior champions two (or three) years before.

For example, during the 2022 World Championships in Budapest, Torri Huske won the women’s 100 butterfly and Thomas Ceccon won the men’s 100 backstroke. They were, at the time, the reigning world junior champions in those events, since they had won them at the 2019 World Junior Championships — and the 2022 World Junior Championships were held after the 2022 World Championships.

Of course, it is much harder winning the titles in the same year, since it’s extremely rare to see a junior-aged swimmer become a world champion. That’s why this is another amazing achievement set by David Popovici.

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Marius
15 days ago

David Popovici has the “DNA”/potential to be the greatest (freestyle) swimmer af all times; surpassing even the great Michael Phelps!

Mojo
Reply to  Marius
12 days ago

No doubt about this. Moreover, he will break WR in 200/400 free too.

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
15 days ago

Meilutyte also failed to medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics, 2020 Summer Olympics, 2017 FINA World Aquatics Championships, 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships.

Troyy
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
15 days ago

How is this even relevant to the article?

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Troyy
15 days ago

Truly the worst commenter on this site. This comment legitimately made me mad. (Which I’d be disappointed in myself about if I thought I was got by a troll, but I think those are actual awful takes.)

chinnychenchen
Reply to  Steve Nolan
15 days ago

omg I pretty much instantly downvote once I see sum bs like

“Michael Fred Phelps did not win a gold medal at the two thousand eleven Federation Internationale de natation(FINA) World Aquatics Championships in Budapest, Hungary in the two hundred meter individual medley.”

and you’re right, truly awful takes; like if you’re gonna take the time to spell out the full name of every event to make yourself seem smarter, at least have good opinions LMAO

Go Kamminga Go
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
15 days ago

How are you not banned yet when you keep trolling on this site

Emily Se-Bom Lee
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
15 days ago

Mr Wikipedia has failed to make any meaningful contribution to the comment section on https://www.swimswam.com/ in the calender years twenty-twenty

Mr Wikipedia has failed to make any meaningful contribution to the comment section on https://www.swimswam.com/ in the calender years twenty-one

Mr Wikipedia has failed to make any meaningful contribution to the comment section on https://www.swimswam.com/ in the calender years twenty-two

Admin
Reply to  Emily Se-Bom Lee
15 days ago

Honestly, this is the best comment of 2022 so far.

ecoach
15 days ago

There are several World and Olympic Champions who were as young or younger than 17 but they pre date the World Junior Championships. So while this is a tremendous accomplishment the list would be much much longer.

Jamesabc
Reply to  ecoach
15 days ago

Yeah this stat is nice but seems a bit pointless. A junior who wins at World Champs is infinitely more impressive than a junior who won juniors and then three years later won world champs when no longer a junior. So I think your list would be the more impressive one.

ozzyozzyozzy
Reply to  Jamesabc
15 days ago

unimpressive because no Australians on the list, ammiright?

Rafael
15 days ago

Is Karen Muir the youngest WR Holder ever? She broke 100/200 Back WR at 13 years old…

Last edited 15 days ago by Rafael
BringBacktheBruinMen1982LeamyBarretStixForever
Reply to  Rafael
15 days ago

Michael Phelps was the youngest man, at age 15. One of Muir’s countrymen, a man by the name of Jeremy Reingold, claims to have set the 200 IM world record in 1980 at the age of 12. This was posted on Wikipedia and repeated by US Swimming and Swimming World, among others. Thing is, this is a total hoax.

Gary Setchell

My Uncle Mike Setchell was a leading swimming coach in South Africa who coached Jeremy Reingold at the Vineyard Swimming Club as we lived in Cape Town for 4 years too and we’re also members. I recall the celebration when he broke the world record but believe the date was incorrect and he was somewhat older .The error is likely in the data capturing. He was undoubtedly the naughtiest bugger and most talented .Mike returned to New Zealand some 10 years later.

JT Rawbone

Reingold was a top swimmer competed against him in Germany. Weltmeister. Jelosy

Frans Pienaar

Reingold was one of the best swimmers in South Africa .I agree there may be a date error but the achievement is beyond question. Maybe you don’t like South Africans. Evidently you don’t have much support

Gheko
Reply to  Rafael
15 days ago

I think she was 12 when she broke her first world record, Jenny Turrall was 13.

Noone
16 days ago

Who are the others male juniors who held a WR? (Except for Thorpe and Phelps)

Rafael
Reply to  Noone
15 days ago

Prado was 17 when he become 400IM WR Holder (Born 1965, he broke the WR at 1982 Worlds)

Teal
Reply to  Rafael
15 days ago

Wasn’t he like 5’6”?

Admin
Reply to  Teal
15 days ago

That’s what Wikipedia says.

Rafael
Reply to  Braden Keith
15 days ago

If you Google 1984 prado olympics and see the 400im podium you can see he is much shorter than the rest

Last edited 15 days ago by Rafael
There's no doubt that he's tightening up
Reply to  Noone
15 days ago

Peirsol was 18 when he broke the 200 back WR (although he did it in the year he turned 19, so wouldn’t count under WJR rules).

Same story for Hackett who broke the 200 free WR leading off a club relay team lol

Going back further, there’s of course Mark Spitz, who broke a whole bunch of WRs at 18

Teddy

Tim Shaw broke the 200, 400, and 1500 when he was 17 in 1974

ecoach
Reply to  Noone
15 days ago

Alex Baumann was 17 in 1981 when he broke the 200 IM record. He then won both the 200 and 400 IM at the 1984 Olympics both in World Record time. If not for fighting constant shoulder problems he would have been even greater. In today’s world with the sports medicine advances and professional swimming he would have been unbelievable. He made the 1980 boycotted Canadian team. At the meet in Hawaii the US put together for all the Olympians who didn’t get to go to the Olympics he won the high point trophy at 16. Greatest male Canadian swimmer ever!

dlswim
16 days ago

Is Popovici the youngest 100 m men’s world record holder in the last 50 years? When did someone younger than him hold the record? Honest questions.

Teddy
Reply to  dlswim
16 days ago

Andy Coan Was 17 when he broke it in 1975, don’t know who was older by days

Admin
Reply to  Teddy
16 days ago

Andy was 17 and 5 months (-1 day). David was 17 and 11 months (-2 days). So Andy was younger.

ooo
Reply to  dlswim
15 days ago

If we go even earlier, another Romanian born swimmer, a.k.a Tarzan, broke the first of his many WR at 17 and 4 months (- a few days). Will ChlorineDaddy impersonate Count Dracula on screen one of these days?

NB1
Reply to  ooo
15 days ago

he wasn’t Romanian-born. It was Hungary at the time.

ooo
Reply to  NB1
15 days ago

Geography trumps history 🙂

The alpha dog
16 days ago

Was Popovici the only one who won a senior title before the junior one?

Admin
Reply to  The alpha dog
16 days ago

Nah. Ruta’s senior title came first. In all years where the meets have been in the same year, World Juniors has come after World Aquatics Championships.

So Popovici and Ruta are the only ones.

MarkB
Reply to  Braden Keith
15 days ago

She was also the reigning Olympic Champ, too. A MUCH shorter list. KL could have done it but the US doesn’t allow Sr. Champions to go to Jr. Championships. So could have Mary T and Tracy Caulkins but no ‘80 Olympics for them.

Quincy
16 days ago

I think you are missing at least three names.
Didn’t Dressel won 100 free at 2013 junior Worlds? How could you miss that?
Nicolo Martinenghi won 100 breast at 2017 Junior Worlds and 2022 senior Worlds.
Simona Quadarella won 1500 free at 2015 junior Worlds and 2019 senior Worlds.

Mireia Belmonte won 400 free and 400 IM golds at 2006 junior Worlds, but not at the same event in which she won senior world gold.

Tyler Clary, Camille Muffat, Kosuke Hagino, Mack Horton and Kyle Chalmers also hold junior world titles, no senior world titles but they are apparently Olympic champions.

Islandtime
Reply to  Quincy
16 days ago

This is an article about being world junior and world senior champion simultaneously. Dressel may have won 2013 junior worlds but did not win senior worlds in 2013 (James Magnussen) or 2015 (Ning Zatao).

Riley
Reply to  Quincy
16 days ago

I know reading the whole article before calling it out is clearly difficult for you, but you could at least read the whole headline before calling out inaccuracies

Deep Trouble
Reply to  Quincy
16 days ago

Dressel won the 2013 juniors with a 48.97. That time would not have even made finals at the normal WCs in 2013. In fact, he would have been ranked 15th after the semi-finals.

It’s also worth noting that Dressel got bronze in the 50 free with a 22.22 at that same meet. Popovici, who is more of a 100/200 swimmer, went 22.16 at European juniors this July.

Coco
Reply to  Deep Trouble
15 days ago

The more stories I hear of Dressel’s junior performances the more suspicious it makes me of his senior exploits

The alpha dog
Reply to  Quincy
16 days ago

boooo

Go Kamminga Go
Reply to  Quincy
15 days ago

Someone didn’t read the article