Popovici Calls Himself A “Skinny Legend,” Wants To Go 45 In The 100 Free

David Popovici, better known as “Chlorine Daddy,”  already has one of the greatest nicknames in the sport. However, after breaking the historic men’s 100 free world record on Saturday, he may have given himself another one: “Skinny Legend.”

And Popovici/Chlorine Daddy/Skinny Legend (or whatever you want to call him) might not be done yet. After calling himself a Skinny Legend, he told BBC on Saturday that he was inspired by Adam Peaty‘s “project 56” in the 100 breast and wanted to go a time that nobody was capable of touching. And that time for Popovici is a sub-46 second 100 free.

“I wanted to go as fast as possible and it looks like I did it,” he told BBC TV. “A fantasy now might be a 45 [second time]. Adam Peaty is a pioneer in terms of the goals he set. For others it was science fiction, but not for him.”

For context, Adam Peaty put up a time of 56.88 in the 100 breast at the 2019 World Championships to become the first man under 57 seconds. Arno Kamminga is the only other man to have gone under 58, with his best time of 57.80 being nearly a second slower than Peaty’s record. If Popovici were to go 45-point in the 100 free, his achievement would be very similar to Peaty’s, as only three other swimmers aside from him (Caeleb Dressel — 46.96, Alain Bernard — 46.94, and Cesar Cielo — 46.91) have gone under 47 seconds.

Popovici has been on a tear this summer, taking down historic benchmarks one by one. Before breaking Cesar Cielo‘s super-suited 100 free world record that had stood for thirteen years, he went 1:43.21 in the 200 free at the 2022 World Championships, which was the fastest time ever gone in the event since 2012. But not only is he a superstar swimmer, but he also has a superstar personality. In addition to the numerous nicknames he gives himself, he’s also extremely candid about his pre-race habits. In fact, he once said on a podcast with retired Australian Olympian Brett Hawke that he sat alone in the back of the ready room before the 200 free final at World Championships to see the fear in his competitors’ eyes.

“I wanted to be in the back because I just wanted to see the nerves of everyone,” he said. “I had my nerves, of course, but I knew people were more scared of me than I was of them. … I just wanted to enjoy that moment of seeing the little bit of fear in their eyes.

And although Popovici has a competitive side, he’s shown great respect to his rivals and competitors, such as Dressel. When asked about him in an NBC interview, he pointed out that Dressel was a “cool, chill guy” and that he was disappointed not to race him in Budapest.

Headed into Paris, the 17-year-old Popovici will be one of the most exciting competitors to watch, both as a competitor and as a person. He is now a heavy favorite to win Romania’s first-ever gold medal in men’s swimming history.

“It’s not that popular,” Popovici said about Romanian swimming. “The thing is, it will be now a hell of a lot more popular.”

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1 year ago

I saw some ppl saying that maybe we need to get away from the current trend of lifting heavier weights. I think the perfect LCM swimmer is going to end up being something in between. So basically this kid in his early 20s when he is a bit bigger and stronger but not as bulky as today’s sprinters. People forget that SCY is a completely different sport. Its not even swimming. What colleges have finally figured out is that for SCY lifting like an athlete (emphasis on vertical jump like basketball) and explosion is the way to these crazy SCY times we see. Especially in the sprint events where its all explosion off walls and a little bit of swimming.… Read more »

Reply to  TimeKeeper
1 year ago

This is unfortunately all factual. I think it’s just going to have to be 2 sets of swimmers in America: those who excel at NCAA, and those who excel at Long Course. And of course, there will be those who do both…but ultimately you probably will need to make a choice because there are only 12 months in a year, and the most important swimming events are in the Summer, and the college ones in March. It’s not about choices to build your growth, etc as much as it is choices on which meets are most important to coaches and swimmers. While not favorable, it is true that college coaches do have a choice to not rest their very best… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by swimfast
1 year ago

For those interested, I’ve very roughly translated Cesar Cielo’s congratulatory video to Popovici:

That’s it guys, the day has arrived. Look, I’m going to tell you, until now I thought it wouldn’t be reached. The record has been surviving for so many years. There are so many good people trying to beat this record but today it happened. For those of you who may not follow swimming, David Popovici just broke my world record of the 100 meter freestyle that was thirteen years old; it turned three at the end of July, and he ended up breaking exactly in the same pool that I got the world record in. So my congratulations to the population of Romania. We have

… Read more »

Philip Johnson
Reply to  SwimFan99
1 year ago

Cielo is a class act and his honesty is refreshing. He admitted “it’s not easy” and that he thought he WR would never be broken, but also says he’s happy for swimming and Romania.

1 year ago

If you watched his interview with Brett Hawke or anything else he’s done recently, you’d understand how well-spoken he is. And even if he is a little confident, so what? In all honesty, it’s fantastic for the sport to have someone this talented and not incredibly humble all the time. Again, he’s 17 and just went a 46…

1 year ago

Unbelievable talent that is just going to get faster. He gets killed by Milak on the start and turn but his top water speed is crazy. Imagine how fast he will be when he improves those two areas.

Last edited 1 year ago by jvj
1 year ago

I think Popovici is just candid and direct, not cocky or arrogant. But even if he was the latter…is that so bad? Sprint superstars in track and field have long exuded uber-confidence and megawatt personalities and they are embraced.

Alison England
Reply to  Pete
1 year ago

Exactly! He is supremely confident, and why not? Look at how Usain Bolt was/is celebrated! Why should swimming be so different?

Philip Johnson
Reply to  Pete
1 year ago

I have no problem with it. King in her prime was like that and she backed it up. DP backs it up.

Reply to  Pete
1 year ago

I actually think swimming needs track and field sprinter like personalities.

Usain bolt with his larger than life personality and antics brought eyeballs to the sport.

Alison England
1 year ago

This article makes him appear arrogant and cocky, which I don’t believe he is. However, the comments he made were at the end of a brief BBC interview by Sharron Davies,. The “skinny legend” comment was in response to a comment from her, not a spontaneous one from him. It was almost a joke, like when Duncan Scott (also pretty lean) recently said he himself would improve when he hits puberty or something similar.

1 year ago

He seems like an arrogant dude to me who thinks that great swimming preformence makes him a great person in life..Let him have a bad year and see what he can do, if he not winning permanently.

Reply to  Martin
1 year ago

He’s a teenager who just broke a world record. Let him have his moment and be a little cocky.

1 year ago

His killer instinct reminds me of Alex Popov, who once said “I have to swim faster and make them feel sick”.

Tea rex
Reply to  Atohitotsu
1 year ago

“If I’m swimming my fastest, no one can beat me. If I’m not swimming my fastest, no one can beat me.”

About Yanyan Li

Yanyan Li

Although Yanyan wasn't the greatest competitive swimmer, she learned more about the sport of swimming by being her high school swim team's manager for four years. She eventually ventured into the realm of writing and joined SwimSwam in January 2022, where she hopes to contribute to and learn more about …

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