Popovici Continues 100 Free Rampage With 47.30 WJR, #1 Worldwide This Season

2021 EUROPEAN JUNIOR SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS

David Popovici lowered the men’s 100 freestyle world junior record for the second time in a matter of days to a 47.30 at the 2021 European Junior Swimming Championships. Popovici first brought the world junior record to a 47.56 on day 1 of the meet while swimming the opening leg of Romania’s 4×100 freestyle relay.

Popovici’s first WJR-breaking swim got under Andrei Minakov’s mark of 47.57 from October 2020 and now that he’s gone another 0.26 seconds faster, is the quickest junior in the history of the event by 0.27 seconds. Prior to Minakov, Australia’s Kyle Chalmers held the world junior record at a 47.58 which he swam at the 2016 Olympic Games to win gold.

Split Comparison:

Popovici (2021) Popovici (2021) Minakov (2020)
50m 22.97 23.07 22.84
100m 24.33 (47.30) 24.49 (47.56) 24.73 (47.57)

Popovici’s swim is not only the fastest swim from a junior in history but it is also the fastest swim from anyone worldwide this season, beating out Kliment Kolesnikov‘s 47.31 by just 0.01 seconds. Popovici’s previous time was the 4th ranked swim in the world but he has now passed USA’s Caeleb Dressel and Italy’s Alessandro Miressi, along with Kolesnikov.

2020-2021 LCM Men 100 Free

2Kyle
Chalmers
AUS47.0807/29
3Kliment
Kolesnikov
RUS47.1107/27
4David
Popovici
ROU47.3007/08
5Alessandro
Miressi
ITA47.4505/19
View Top 26»

Along with jumping to the #1 position in the world this year, Popovici is now the 10th fastest man in the history of the event. He will be racing the event for Romania at the Olympics this year and has quickly gone from a dark horse (in fact, he was SwimSwam’s official darkhorse pick for the event just last week) to a favorite to medal. Among those who will present at the Games, Popovici ranks 4th in history behind Caeleb Dressel, Kyle Chalmers, and Brent Hayden.

  1. Cesar Cielo (BRA) – 46.91 (2009)
  2. Alain Bernard (FRA) – 46.94 (2009)
  3. Caeleb Dressel (USA) – 46.96 (2019)
  4. Cam McEvoy (AUS) – 47.04 (2016)
  5. Eamon Sullivan (AUS) – 47.05 (2008)
  6. Kyle Chalmers (AUS) – 47.08 (2019)
  7. James Magnussen (AUS) – 47.10 (2012)
  8. Freddy Bousquet (FRA) – 47.25 (2009)
  9. Brent Hayden (CAN) – 47.27 (2009)
  10. David Popovici (ROU) – 47.30 (2021)
  11. Kliment Kolesnikov (RUS) – 47.31 (2021)
  12. David Walters (USA) – 47.33 (2009)
  13. Stefan Nystrand (SWE) – 47.37 (2009)
  14. Ryan Held (USA) – 47.39 (2019)
  15. Vladislav Grinev (RUS) – 47.43 (2019)
  16. Alessandro Miressi (ITA) – 47.45 (2021)
  17. Michael Phelps (USA) – 47.51 (2008)
  18. Nathan Adrian (USA) – 47.52 (2012)
  19. Andrei Minakov (RUS) – 47.57 (2020)
  20. Jason Lezak (USA) – 47.58 (2008)

Popovici’s improvement curve in the 100 freestyle has been quite remarkable over the past 3 seasons. He cracked 50 seconds for the first time back in July 2019 with a 49.82 to win gold at the European Youth Olympic Festival in Baku, Azerbaijan. Between July 2019 and now he has lowered his time by 2.52 seconds.

David Popovici 100 Freestyle Progression

Month Event Best Time
June 2019 Comen Mediterranean Cup 50.70
July 2019 European Youth Olympic Festival 49.82
December 2020 Gyor Olympic Qualification Event 49.70
April 2021 Open Belgian Qualification Meet 49.54
May 2021 European Swimming Championships 48.30
May 2021 European Swimming Championships 48.28
May 2021 European Swimming Championships 48.08
July 2021 European Junior Swimming Championships 47.56
July 2021 European Junior Swimming Championships 47.30

Popovici won the event at 2021 European Juniors by more than a second, touching ahead of Great Britain’s Edward Mildred who notched a 48.77 for the silver medal. Poland’s Mateusz Chowaniec followed with a 49.37 for bronze and Russia’s Vladislav Reznichenko and Portugal’s Diogo Matos Ribeiro each got under 50 seconds as well with swims of 49.40 and 49.52, respectively.

In This Story

217
Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of
217 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Swimmerfromjapananduk
4 months ago

This kid is actually cracked out of everyone’s mind. The way he is performing, the gold is not out of his reach. Just a shame there will be no spectators to support him along the way

Ghost
Reply to  Swimmerfromjapananduk
4 months ago

Lots of TV eyes on him in Tokyo. Probably not a lot of fans in Rome either. It will be the Olympics, the swimmers will perform and if some don’t, it won’t be for lack of fans

Rafael
Reply to  Ghost
4 months ago

Because Rome makes total sense…

nuotofan
Reply to  Swimmerfromjapananduk
4 months ago

About Popovici’s progression, after the 49.54 at the Belgian meet he swam a 49.09 at Multinations, at Brovary (Ukr) (4/17/21). Then he tapered for the European Champs where his target was reaching the Fina A limit and becoming the fastest 16 year-old ever: target reached already in the heats with that 48.30. New block of training and, without finalizing the preparation for the event, he swam that incredible 1.46.15 in the 200 free (and 22.60 in the 50 free) at Romanian Champs (6/20/21). And then the European Juniors Champs now..

Last edited 4 months ago by nuotofan
Fanofnuotofan
Reply to  nuotofan
4 months ago

How do you know all of this?

nuotofan
Reply to  Fanofnuotofan
4 months ago

Every day, a few hours for sleeping, many searching swimming news.

Marmot
Reply to  Swimmerfromjapananduk
4 months ago

For the record, as someone who knows Romanian, his last name is pronounced “Pohp-oh-veech.” Not “pop-oh-veech-ee.” The announcers in the video have incorrect pronunciation. To get the “ee” at the end, he’d have two “i’s.” The “i” at the end of his last name is silent.

Since we’re all going to be hearing a lot more about him, just figured I’d toss that out there.

Last edited 4 months ago by Marmot
Amogus
4 months ago

This kid has only been alive for 3 summer olympics…

John
Reply to  Amogus
4 months ago

That’s equally hilarious/frightening!

PFA
4 months ago

Anything could happen but right now it’s looking like he could become one of the greatest Jr swimmers of an entire generation I’m really excited to see his 200 free.

Joel Lin
Reply to  PFA
4 months ago

That’s quite the understatement. He is one of the best swimmers in a generation right now. The day is coming soon when this kid is going to take all the baubles. We are seeing something unlike anything before with this guy.

Phelpsian
Reply to  Joel Lin
4 months ago

lest we forget that phelps and thorpe were both WR holders at 16…. this kid is good, but there’s a whole nother tier of special above him. Katie Ledecky is in there too

Curious swimmer
Reply to  Phelpsian
4 months ago

He is 16 and is literally going 47.3 that’s unheard of. What the actual f are you on

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Curious swimmer
4 months ago

Calm down. As great as it is, it’s one event. Seem to recall those other three did well in a slew of events. Do not overhype this kid like they did Dressel.

Walter
Reply to  Phelpsian
4 months ago

Give him a moment…

kwabbit
Reply to  Phelpsian
4 months ago

The 100 free is a way different event than the 400 Free/ 200 Fly. Guys usually peak in sprint free around a decade older than Popovici is now while it’s typical for a 400 free swimmer to max out around 20.

Splashanddasher
Reply to  kwabbit
4 months ago

Exactly. A week ago we were all talking about Dressel and Chalmers being the go to 100m free guys for years to come, and here’s a guy who is 6-8 years younger than both of them putting up times that would’ve made previous swimming greats look like jokes at their respective ages. This kid has potential to be Van Den Hoogenband 2.0 and he’s barely cracked the surface. Sheesh imagine if he’s not even fully done going through puberty.

Admin
Reply to  Splashanddasher
4 months ago

While Popovici is still clearly the future….I would still take Chalmers and Dressel versus the field at any odds.

Joel Lin
Reply to  Braden Keith
4 months ago

I agree. This is Dressel’s moment. This is the peak & he is ready.

Popovici’s time is coming sooner rather than later. He’s got a stroke sweet as Park & his natural strength at a young age is just crazy. Soon or late he will also clean up his turns.

Eagleswim
Reply to  Braden Keith
4 months ago

Yep, but I think this is the last year that will be the case

Splashanddasher
Reply to  Braden Keith
4 months ago

I would as well, given that it’s unclear how tapered David is at the moment (my guess would be he probably is VERY tapered). He might have even better 200M potential given his back half, but if he ever figures out the front half of the 100m he’s going to be very very good.

Landen
Reply to  Braden Keith
4 months ago

GIVE ME SANTO

DCSwim
Reply to  Splashanddasher
4 months ago

If we’re going for the PVDH comparison, I say Tokyo will be his Atlanta, Paris will be his Sydney, and LA will be his Athens

Splashanddasher
Reply to  DCSwim
4 months ago

I mean that only puts him at 24, he might even have another one in him to be a formidable contender tbh.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  kwabbit
4 months ago

Andy Coan set the WR in the 100 free at 17.

swimfast
Reply to  Phelpsian
4 months ago

I’m a huge Phelps and Thorpe fan but honestly the assault this kid is making on the 100 free even before the big stage for is mind blowing. Ledecky did this in 2014 with the 800 and 1500 free in Woodlands, TX at age…16. Although she actually broke the world record there, Popovici going 47.3, if I may say, between male and female development could be the equivalent of Ledecky’s performance at this age. We are very very very sure, scientifically, that men progress well into their 20s especially in sprint events. He is about 3/4 through puberty….

Irish Ringer
Reply to  PFA
4 months ago

Could continue the upward trajectory or peak and decline like Cam McEvoy?

nuotofan
Reply to  Irish Ringer
4 months ago

I have no doubt: after allowing him to improve nearly 2 seconds in the 100 free in 2 months, and swimming the WJR at 16 and 9 months, Mother Nature will be cruel with the poor Popovici. His decline will be quick like his ascent and nobody will remind his name LOL

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  nuotofan
4 months ago

It happens. Andy Coan WR at 17. Breaks wrists in a car crash in college, then has horrible health problems and a premature death a few years ago.

nuotofan
Reply to  nuotofan
4 months ago

Too evident that I was kidding about an (for me) absurd question?

Last edited 4 months ago by nuotofan
Breaststroke=Beststroke
4 months ago

Geez man

PFA
4 months ago

I believe one thing for sure it’s gonna take a world record to win possibly. Or even make the podium.

Olyswimfreak
Reply to  PFA
4 months ago

No way three guys are under Cielo’s mark. As much as I love to dream of it, Dressel swam a pretty technically perfect race by his standards in 2019 and missed it. Not saying he can’t go 46.8 here, but for 3 guys to replicate that… unfathomable

PVSFree
Reply to  Olyswimfreak
4 months ago

Dressel’s been 46.9, Chalmers has been 47.0, and Popovici has gone from a 49 to a 47.3 in a month and a half. I certainly think it’s possible all three are under Cielo’s mark. Not at all likely, but there’s a possibility

HJones
Reply to  PVSFree
4 months ago

At once? I doubt that all 3 would go under the mark in one race, especially in an Olympic final. At some point in each of the careers of Dressel, Chalmers, and Popovici, sure, you could expect them to all go faster than Cielo’s mark.

owlmundo
Reply to  HJones
4 months ago

I think if ever it would have to be now whos to say these guys will replicate these times in 3 years

Troyy
Reply to  owlmundo
4 months ago

It seems highly unlikely Tokyo will be Popovici’s peak Olympics.

Owlmundo
Reply to  Troyy
4 months ago

Not his but we never know if chalmers and dressel are near peak

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Owlmundo
4 months ago

Or past peak.

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  PVSFree
4 months ago

Possible – yes; probable – IDK. It would have to be “the perfect storm”. Regardless, this young man is amazing.

Last edited 4 months ago by Coach Mike 1952
Stephen
Reply to  PVSFree
4 months ago

The Over / under is 47.00 sec …….ill have a few bucks on the over. Why?? Morning finals and no spectators.

Stephen
Reply to  PVSFree
4 months ago

Ill also add …..no specs maybe a huge advantage to the younger brigade.

PFA
Reply to  Olyswimfreak
4 months ago

And You’re probably right there’s still an outside chance though but I could be completely wrong but who knows only way will know is when it happens.

Landen
Reply to  Olyswimfreak
4 months ago

If that happens cielo is coming out of his break from swimming to drop a 46 flat in some random Brazilian pool

Troyy
Reply to  Landen
4 months ago

That’d be 1.8s faster than his textile best.

Landen
Reply to  Troyy
4 months ago

Yes. Fueled by nothing but chest slapping

John
Reply to  PFA
4 months ago

Not in the 50/100 FR, maybe in the prelims/semis but those finals are pressure cookers.

TeamDressel
Reply to  PFA
4 months ago

Yeah it’s most certainly going to take a world record to win. It will be 47 low to podium though

PhillyMark
Reply to  PFA
4 months ago

Lanes 3 & 5 will likely ride a huge wave to the WR

Stephen
Reply to  PFA
4 months ago

BS

MarkB
Reply to  PFA
4 months ago

“For sure “, “possibly “.

Philip Johnson
4 months ago

The men’s 100 free has gone through an incredible transformation!

In 2011, a 47.63 won, 2013 47.71, and 2015 47.84.

Dressel then came along to challenge the 47 barrier and now we have multiple people that may be capable of that. Plus a 16 year old swims a 47.30!!

Philip Johnson
4 months ago

I haven’t been following this swimmer too closely but wasn’t he swimming in the 49s in October? Amazing.

PVSFree
Reply to  Philip Johnson
4 months ago

Yup. He’s dropped nearly two seconds in a month and a half.

frug
Reply to  PVSFree
4 months ago

At this rate by the time Paris rolls around he should split -1.0!

Crawler
Reply to  PVSFree
4 months ago

How does one gain over 1.5 sec in a couple of months? From unknown to the wider swimming public to #1 time in the world? Doing the second 50 in 24.6? I have to say that I find all this pretty incredible.

Dan
Reply to  Philip Johnson
4 months ago

Think he went 49.8 about 2 years ago

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  Dan
4 months ago

50+ actually

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  Coach Mike 1952
4 months ago

see the progression above in this article June 2019 ==> 50.70 to be precise.

Ghost
Reply to  Philip Johnson
4 months ago

Puberty is the best coach and conditioner

John
Reply to  Ghost
4 months ago

Stop making baseless accusations against minors.

Stephen
Reply to  Philip Johnson
4 months ago

He’s almost as fast as those Aussie women.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Philip Johnson
4 months ago

Took up USRPT.

PVSFree
4 months ago

comment image

PVSFree
Reply to  PVSFree
4 months ago

Also throwback to when SwimSwam commenters called him cocky for wanting to be the fastest 16 year old in history. Dude has made us eat our words, props to him.

https://swimswam.com/swimswam-podcast-david-popovici-is-shooting-to-be-the-fastest-16yo-in-history/#comments

Eric the Eel > Michael Phelps
Reply to  PVSFree
4 months ago

Give him 1 or 2 years and he will be THE FASTEST IN HISTORY

Michael Schwartz
Reply to  Eric the Eel > Michael Phelps
4 months ago

You misspoke. I think you mean weeks.

Reply to  PVSFree
4 months ago

….well played…

eagleswim
Reply to  PVSFree
4 months ago

this is too true haha he just made the most exciting race of the olympics that much more exciting. thank you for making me laugh out loud

swimfast
Reply to  PVSFree
4 months ago

Seriously bravo for this meme