SwimSwam Pulse: 73% Believe 200 Free Will Be Next 2009 World Record To Fall

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers which world record set in 2009 will be the next to go down:

Question: With David Popovici taking out the men’s 100 free mark, which individual world record from 2009 will be the next to fall?


  • Men’s 200 free – 1:42.00 — 36.7%
  • Women’s 200 free – 1:52.98 — 36.4%
  • Men’s 50 free – 20.91 — 17.1%
  • Men’s 400 free – 3:40.07 — 4.2%
  • Men’s 800 free – 7:32.12 — 2.2%
  • Men’s 200 back – 1:51.92 — 1.9%
  • Women’s 200 fly – 2:01.81 — 1.4%

It felt as though the world record in the men’s 100 freestyle was on the chopping block for a few years, with Caeleb Dressel and Kyle Chalmers both coming within earshot in 2019 and 2021, but it was Romania’s breakout star David Popovici who managed to get his hand on the mark first.

After claiming the 2022 world title in June with both Dressel and Chalmers absent from the field in the final, Popovici blasted his way to a new world record of 46.86 at the European Championships in August, lowering Cesar Cielo‘s 13-year-old mark of 46.91 set at the 2009 World Championships.

With that swim from Popovici, there are now just seven individual long course world records stemming from 2009, the year in which the now-banned polyurethane suits resulted in an onslaught of all-time swims.

This led to the poll question: which record will be the next to fall? The results look vastly different than they would’ve had Popovici not done what he did at Euros.

The world record in the men’s 200 free has been viewed as one of the most untouchable on the books, only surpassed by the women’s 200 fly and maybe the men’s 800 free in the eyes of many.

But Paul Biedermann‘s 1:42.00 mark from 2009 now appears to be within reach, as in addition to his performance in the 100 free, Popovici also reeled off a 1:42.97 swim in the 200 in Rome.

That makes him the fastest swimmer in history in a textile suit, and given that he had only broken 1:45 once coming into this year, it’s clear that Popovici’s rapid rate of improvement puts Biedermann’s record in jeopardy.

The men’s 200 free came away with 36.7 percent of votes, narrowly edging out the women’s 200 free, which had 36.4 percent.

The women’s 200 free mark stands at 1:52.98, set by Federica Pellegrini, but has been seriously approached of late by Australian Ariarne Titmus, who clocked 1:53.09 last year and was 1:53.31 a few months ago.

With Dressel having been 21.0 three times, Cielo’s mark of 20.91 in the 50 free received the third-most votes at 17.1 percent. No one else in the world has been anywhere near the 21-second barrier in recent years, so that subsection of readers likely believe Dressel will be the one to get down there sooner rather than later.

The men’s 400 free, also held by Biedermann, followed at just over four percent, followed by the men’s 800 free, men’s 200 back and women’s 200 fly.

Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks: Which women’s team that finished outside of the top five will finish highest at the 2022 NCAA Championships?

Which team will finish highest at the 2022 Women's NCAA Championships?

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2 months ago

This poll was actually about the opinion how inhuman the mentioned records are and if we have on horizon some freak of nature who will break the current world record. It’d better to see how well the competition is developed and how dense the result are in particular event. For example the competition in M100FR is highly developed and the results are very close to each other that there is an impression that that is where the human limits are. The Popovici’s world record even being outstanding doesn’t make him superhuman yet. 1:41 results in 200 is so far away of where historical competition is that it is kind of unbelievable that human can do it without assistance (fins, suits,… Read more »

2 months ago

Up until last year I would have said the men’s 2 free WR is the most challenging. My view has completely changed over the past 12 months. I now see the men’s 800 free WR as the most challenging. But I think it’s only a matter of time until we see someone get to within 2 seconds of that record which I believe will happen between Paris and LA. As for the 2 free, there’s a 50/50 chance it’s going down next year.

2 months ago

A simple (just a bit boring ) math to show how much the men’s 200 free WR (1.42.00) is so impressive towards the women’s 200 free WR (1.52.98) and the men’s 100 and 400 free WRs.
The difference between the men’s (46.86) and women’s (51.71) 100 free WRs is 4.85 seconds.
4.85×2=9.70, but the difference between the men’s (1.42.00) and women’s (1.52.98) 200 free WRs is 10.98 seconds, so far larger.
10.98×2=21.96 seconds, but the difference between the men’s (3.40.06) and women’s (3.56.40) 400 free WRs is 16.34 seconds, so far lower.
1.42.00×2=3.24.00, 3.40.06 (men’s 400 free WR) – 3.24.00 = 16.06 seconds.
1.52.98×2=3.45.96, 3.56.40 (women’s 400 free WR) – 3.45.96 = 10.44 seconds
… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by nuotofan
Attack of the Jack O’ Lanterns
Reply to  nuotofan
2 months ago

Now compare the men’s 1500m record (14:31.02) to the women’s record (15:20.48). By your metric, shouldn’t the men’s record in that distance be well under 14:20? Female swimmers are simply better equipped for endurance races.

Reply to  Attack of the Jack O’ Lanterns
2 months ago

A better way of explaining “better equipped” is to say that the longer the distance, the less the musculoskeletal advantages Men have in power events matter between Women and Men. Go to any ultra running event, it’s insane to see the speed that can be held for hours by both genders, and the top women often place top 10 unless you’re at western states or the Leadville 100.

2 months ago

In truth, I think what we’ve seen watching Popovici/Marchand, etc is that the super suit records only seemed untouchable given the talent pool we can see at a given time.

The 400IM WR seems untouchable? Well, even factoring in the suits, the 200breast field is 2second faster than when Phelps set the 400IM record, and the 100breast stroke is over 1s faster. Phelps wasn’t even that good at breaststroke. Immediately the threshold for being as good at the other strokes as Phelps is a lot lower.

The men’s 200free and womens 200fly fields (at the top end) have been stuck at 2000’s level (or older) for about a decade so those records seem out of reach. The men’s 200back is… Read more »

There's no doubt that he's tightening up
2 months ago

I would think it is more likely that Titmus will drop 0.1 before Popovici would drop a full second. There’s also the O’Callaghan factor, she (like Popovici) is a second off the WR, but young and on a steep upward trajectory.

Despite the huge progress in men’s 100 back, Peirsol’s 200 WR still looks pretty untouchable. No one has really even been that close. Maybe if 2012 Irie had 2012 Lochte underwaters…

Pavid Dopovici
2 months ago

Nah mate , women 200 free

2 months ago

I’d say the 400 could possibly go down, as David is 0.97 slower than the WR in 200(0.24 sec a lap) whilst Winnington is 1.15 slower than the WR(0.14 sec a lap) and Martens is 1.53 seconds off(still 0.19 sec a lap), a better dive and few more good turns could easily add up to the deficit, even David has a real close shot in 200, I reckon they’ll both go down

2 months ago

I’d say the 400 could possibly go down, as David is 0.97 slower than the WR in 200(0.24 sec a lap) whilst Winnington is 1.15 slower than the WR(0.14 sec a lap) and Martens is 1.53 seconds off(still 0.19 sec a lap), a better dive and few more good turns could easily add up to the deficit, even David has a real close shot in 200, I reckon they’ll both go down

Reply to  Jay
2 months ago

Yes, I think that the men 400 free with perhaps the 200 women free should be the next records to fall. Popovici can break 1.42 but he still is a full second away, which is a lot.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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