Popovici is the 2nd Man to Win 100/200 Freestyle at Same Worlds (Euro Recap Day 5)


David Popovici is the real deal. 

Though that seemed pretty clear after Popovici’s victory in the 200 freestyle earlier this week, the Romanian teenager furthered that narrative when he won gold in the men’s 100 freestyle. 

After throwing down a World Junior Record of 47.17, Popovici entered the final as the heavy favorite, especially with the absence of defending World and Olympic Champion Caeleb Dressel. Despite being slightly slower than his record, Popovici managed to hold off a charging field to finish first in a time of 47.58, claiming his second gold medal of these Championships. 

With his performance, Popovici became just the second person to win both the 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle at the same edition of the Long Course World Championships. When was the last time it was done? 1973, the first edition of the World Championships. At that meet, Jim Montgomery won both events for the United States. Montgomery went on to win gold medals at the 1976 Olympic Games, putting Popovici in good company. 

At only 17-year-old, Popovici still has plenty of time to improve upon the results he’s thrown down here, especially with the 2024 Olympic Games looming ahead. Even in a field with Caeleb Dressel, Popovici has shown that he can hold his own and run with the big dogs. 

A Big Day for France

In that 100 freestyle final, France also managed to get a swimmer on the podium as Maxime Grousset charged home to claim the silver medal behind Popovici in a time of 47.64. The swim marks a huge sigh of relief for a country that has been lacking in sprint prowess the past few years, despite traditionally developing some of the top sprinters in the world. From 2009 to 2017, France saw at least 1 swimmer make the podium in either the 50 or 100 freestyle at the World Championships or Olympic Games. However, the nation failed to produce podium finishes in either event at the 2019 World Championships, causing some concerns that the French sprinting powerhouse was dwindling. With Grousset’s podium finish, those worries appear to be quelled, at least for now. 

Quick Hits: 

  • France also earned medals from Analia Pigree and Leon Marchand on day 5. Pigree set a new national record of 27.40 en route to a bronze medal performance in the 50 backstroke, while Marchand dominated the men’s 200 IM and set a new national record of 1:55.22 to win gold. With his swim, Marchand won his second gold medal of the competition. 
  • Even with Arno Kamminga’s scratch, Europe still has half of the final (4/8) in the men’s 200 breaststroke. Europeans also make-up half of the final in the women’s 200 breaststroke, led by Lithuanian Kotryna Teterevkova, who finished 3rd out of semis.
  • Great Britain’s Brodie Williams (1:56.17) and Luke Greenbank (1:56.42) qualified 2nd and 3rd, respectively, for the men’s 200 backstroke final, setting the nation up for several potential medalists.

National Records: 

  • During the prelims session, of the women’s 100 freestyle, Kalia Antoniou broke the Cypriot record in the event, swimming a time of 54.25. She lowered that by .01 in the semi-finals to 54.24 to finish 13th overall. 
  • As previously mentioned, Leon Marchand set a new French National Record in the 200 IM with his time of 1:55.22, taking down his own record from the semi-finals. 

European Medal Table Through Day 5:

Italy 3 1 1 5
France 2 3 1 6
Romania 2 0 0 2
Germany 0 3 0 3
Great Britain 0 0 1 1
Hungary 1 0 0 1
Lithuania 0 0 1 1
Netherlands 0 1 1 2
Ukraine 0 0 1 1

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Cardinal 2.0
7 months ago

Do we know anything about other strokes for DP? Obviously still doing amazing but can he add a fly or back or work on the sprints or longer distances more? Just to expand his program and enter the conversation of greats in history.

Lex Soft
7 months ago

If we talk about Jim Montgomery, then we probably want to talk about Jonty Skinner too, because the South African sprinter was the favorite to win the gold in 100m free at Montreal 1976 Olympic. Unfortunately, his country was banned, so he couldn’t participate. Skinner proved that he was faster than Montgomery; he beat the American in the next meet, breaking the WR by 0.55 sec.

Lex Soft
7 months ago

I was trying to remember who the 1st man is.
My mind was initially on two men : Hoogenband and Mark Spitz. But they did it at Olympic. Then I turned to Matt Biondi, thinking that he probably did at WC despite losing in 200m free at Seoul 1988 Olympic. I have never thought about Jim Montgomery, only know him as the Olympic champion at Montreal 1976 Olympic and becoming the 1st man who clocked under 50 secs in 100m free.

Reply to  Lex Soft
7 months ago

van den Hoogenband actually never won a long course WC title. He still regrets not preparing 100% for 2001

Lex Soft
Reply to  Mark
7 months ago

For me, Olympic is the highest stage. So, despite never won at WC, he is still legend. His success at Sydney is memorable. And the way he defended his title in 100 at Atlanta 2004 is impressive : able to catch Roland Schoeman in the last 15 or 10 m. Schoeman might still regret his lost after leading convincingly.

Owen Eisinger
7 months ago

Why won’t NBC Sports post his races?

Reply to  Owen Eisinger
7 months ago

No Americans on the podium.

Fobby Binke
Reply to  Owen Eisinger
7 months ago

No Murrican no show

7 months ago

Actually France has had sprinters on the podium since 2008 (not 2009) at world or Olympic level. Remember when Bernard won 100Fr in Beijing? Also Leveaux was silver in the 50Fr and Bernard was Bronze (also Beijing)

Lex Soft
Reply to  GrameziPT
7 months ago

They began with Stephan Caron who got bronze at Seoul 1988 Olympic, behind Matt Biondi and Chris Jacobs. Caron defended his bronze at Barcelona 1992, beating Biondi at the last 10m, but couldn’t beat Alexander Popov and Gustavo Borges who took the gold and silver, respectively.

Awsi Dooger
7 months ago

You have to give Rowdy credit for spotlighting Popovici’s very narrow frame prior to the race and saying it was his one problem, that it’s a big man’s event and Popovici might be bounced around in the wake. It was so refreshing to hear someone focus on the situational aspect instead of assigning raw times in a bottle. This is the same variable I mentioned all last year with Popovici. Now imagine him in between Dressel and Chalmers, taking the tide from both directions.

Popovici is an immense talent but right now if he’s going to threaten or break that 100 record it needs to be in a semifinal or glorified time trial meet where he’s all by himself. I… Read more »

Reply to  Awsi Dooger
7 months ago

The Euro Juniors is hosted in Romania this year starting on July 5th so I wonder if he can hold his taper and compete and have a crack at the WR there with clear water?

Reply to  Awsi Dooger
7 months ago

I don’t think that was why he added time. He was out 22.7 which seems to have been a little too quick. He fatigued more than usual because he was out too fast. It’s possible he was forcing the first 50 because Liendo had such a great first 25.

He was in a race in the semis and really only pulled away the last 15m or so. He had people right on him in the semis too.

Reply to  ArtVanDeLegh10
7 months ago

I don’t think there are semi finals at the European Juniors (at least there weren’t back in my days… which was 20 years ago 🙈)
So, that might work in his favor.

Reply to  Awsi Dooger
7 months ago

It’s interesting that his two best swims were his 47.30 last year at the European Juniors where he was clearly the dominant swimmer in the pool, and then this year his 47.13 in the semis at this meet when he was bracketed by 19-year-old Liendo-Edwards of Canada and 17-year-old Pan of China. It might be a whole different ballgame, as you point out, if he is surrounded by a couple of 210 lb. muscle-bound studs like Dressel and Chalmers who churn up some huge waves.

Reply to  Awsi Dooger
7 months ago

I’m not intentionally trying to take credit away from Rowdy, but what % do think/know is due to that? Or could it just have been a off-swim (as much as you can call a 47.5 World gold medal that)

Reply to  iLikePsych
7 months ago

You could be right, but recall that he followed up his 47.30 at Euro Juniors last summer with a 48.03, 47.72, and 48.04 at the Olympics a couple of months later. Notably, his slowest time came in the finals when he was in the pool with some very big boys.

7 months ago

I like how the title describes popovici as a man when he’s technically still a boy

7 months ago

Is Metella still swimming? Ndoye Brouard/Tomac, Marchand, sub-51 Metella, and Grousset feels like air could be a 5th place relay at the moment if Marchand’s individual breaststroke is as good as it seems like. They missed the final in Tokyo but that was without Grousset.

About Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller

Nicole has been with SwimSwam since April 2020, as both a reporter and social media contributor. Prior to joining the SwimSwam platform, Nicole also managed a successful Instagram platform, amassing over 20,000 followers. Currently, Nicole is pursuing her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. After competing for the swim …

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