2023 ROMANIAN CUP
- Friday, June 2nd – Sunday, June 4th
- Otopeni, Romania
- LCM (50m)
- Day 1 Finals Results
- Day 1 Recap
18-year-old freestyle phenom David Popovici was back in action on the second night of the 2023 Romanian Cup in Otopeni, winning the 100-meter freestyle with a time of 47.85 — less than a second off his world record from last year’s European Championships (46.86).
Popovici was out in 23.24 and came home in 24.61, touching more than two seconds ahead of runner-up finisher Gergely Mihai (50.34). Popovici was a couple tenths slower than his 47.61 from the Romanian Championships in April, which ranks as the second-fastest time in the world this season behind China’s Pan Zhanle (47.22).
It was Popovici’s 21st time under the 48-second barrier, which ranks second all-time behind Caeleb Dressel (24).
His coach, Adrian Radulescu, said they didn’t have any goals for this meet since their recent training schedule has been interrupted by last month’s Baccalaureate exam. Popovici participated in a special session of the Baccalaureate exam for Olympic students from May 15-25, passing with a score of 8.65.
“We have adapted our training program in recent weeks in accordance with the Baccalaureate exam calendar and preparation for it,” Radulescu said. “It was a different experience, I found that we can have the necessary flexibility, and this will help him in the future sessions that he will navigate as a student.”
Popovici’s 100 free victory marked his second win of the weekend after triumphing in the 100 butterfly (52.45) on Friday night. He was just .15 seconds off his lifetime best from April’s Romanian Championships. He has the 200 free remaining on Sunday before it’s time to turn to his attention to the Sette Colli Trophy later this month in Rome and, of course, the World Championships next month in Fukuoka, Japan.
“Now that I’m done with high school, I could say that I’m taking the step into adult life,” Popovici said. “It’s as if higher education, from college, means something else. I have to live my life, start taking responsibility, grow up. You can never stop learning and I never want to forget that.”
In other highlights from Otopeni, 17-year-old Vlad Stefan Stancu kept his momentum going by pulling off a grueling 200 butterfly/1500 freestyle double. He another lifetime best during his victory in the 200 fly with a 2:00.16, shaving nearly a full second off his previous-best 2:01.03 from April’s Romanian Championships. Those are his only two official swims on record in the 200 fly, and he’s won both of them, so technically he’s undefeated in the event.
Then Stancu capped off the session with a win in the 1500 free (15:32.87). He was 27 seconds off his national record from last year’s European Junior Championships, but it was still an impressive performance given his loaded schedule on Saturday night. On Friday night, Stancu also won the 400 free with a personal-best 3:47.17 that ranks 17th in the world this season.
Rising University of Houston junior Henrietta Fangli kicked off Saturday’s finals session with a win in the women’s 100 breaststroke in 1:10.12, less than a second off her national record from April’s Romanian Championships. 19-year-old Emil Dancanet took the men’s 100 breast title in 1:02.75, shaving about half a second off his best time from April. In the women’s 100 freestyle, 16-year-old Irina Ana Preda prevailed with a winning time of 56.66, marking her first time under 57 seconds.
The streak of teenage swimmers touching first continued with 14-year-old Daria Mariuca Silisteanu dominating the women’s 200 backstroke by more than six seconds with a time of 2:13.36. She’s dropped nearly five seconds since last summer to move just about two seconds away from the Worlds ‘A’ cut (2:11.08). For reference, Silisteanu would rank 22nd in the U.S. girls’ 13-14 national age group (NAG) rankings.
In the men’s 200 back, 16-year-old Robert Andrei Badea improved upon his time from April’s Romanian Championships (2:02.09) by more than half a second, claiming first place with a time of 2:01.52.
28-year-old Alexandra Bogdaneci put an end to the youth movement with a victory in the women’s 200 butterfly, clocking a personal-best 2:17.29. Her previous best appeared to have been a 2:17.68 from last year.
It didn’t take long for another teen to steal the spotlight, though. 15-year-old Diana Gabriela Stiger won the women’s 1500 freestyle in 17:10.54, marking a huge drop off her time from April’s Romanian Championships (17:36.18). Remarkably, she has shaved more than 50 seconds off her best time since last year’s Romanian Cup (18:00.86).