2022 EUROPEAN AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
- Thursday, August 11 – Wednesday, August 17, 2022 (pool swimming)
- Rome, Italy
- Parco Del Foro Italico
- LCM (50m)
- Meet Central
- Live Results
With the pool swimming portion of the 2022 European Aquatics Championships coming to a close on Wednesday, it’s time to hand out some hardware to the top performers from what was an exciting seven days of action at the Foro Italico in Rome.
Below, find SwimSwam’s official awards for the men’s competition:
SWIMMER OF THE MEET: DAVID POPOVICI (ROU)
The award for best male swimmer of the meet was not a slam-dunk for David Popovici, despite his otherworldly performances in the men’s 100 and 200 freestyle. However, the quality of his swims inches him past some of the other contenders who put up more medals and raced more frequently.
Popovici had a meet to remember in Rome, setting the pool on fire a few different times. The 17-year-old first broke the 47-second barrier in the semi-finals of the 100 free, clocking 46.98 for a new European Record, and then downed a 13-year-old world record in the final, producing a time of 46.86.
That swim broke Cesar Cielo‘s longstanding mark of 46.91, set at the 2009 World Championships, which also happened to be in the same pool as Popovici’s swim.
If that wasn’t enough, the Romanian dropped another all-time performance in the 200 free final, recording a time of 1:42.97 for the fastest textile swim in history, overtaking France’s Yannick Agnel (1:43.14). Popovici now ranks third on the all-time performers’ list, trailing suited efforts from Paul Biedermann (1:42.00) and Michael Phelps (1:42.96).
For good measure, Popovici also put up a time of 47.20 in the prelims of the 100 free, which briefly broke the championship record, and he added a 47.85 performance leading off Romania’s 400 free relay, giving him 14 sub-48 swims in young career.
Popovici also cruised to a 1:44.91 semi-final swim in the 200 free, giving him five sub-1:45s, and he established a new personal best of 3:47.99 in the 400 free heats before scratching the final to begin preparing for World Juniors.
A great stat coming out of Popovici’s performances in Rome: coming into the meet, there had been a combined total of six swims in history either sub-47 in the 100 free or sub-1:43 in the 200 free. After he was done competing, that total is now up to nine. At 17, Popovici is the first swimmer to have broken both the 47 and 1:43 barriers, and he’s also the only athlete to dip under 47 seconds twice.
Although the medal count wasn’t quite what it was for his competitors, the sheer quality of Popovici’s swims earn him Male Swimmer of the Meet.
- Kristof Milak (HUN) – Milak was an absolute workhorse in Rome, racing 14 times over the seven-day met. Milak successfully defended his European titles in the men’s 100 fly (50.33) and 200 fly (1:52.01), and added an individual silver in the 100 free as he set a new Hungarian Record in a time of 47.47. The 22-year-old also anchored Hungary to a historic gold medal in the men’s 4×200 free relay, splitting 1:44.42, and he closed in 47.24 on the 400 free relay to bring the team up into the silver medal position, bringing his total medal tally up to five. Milak also took on some doubles we haven’t seen him tackle in the past, including a triple on the fourth night that saw fail to advance into the 200 free final.
- Thomas Ceccon (ITA) – Ceccon topped all male swimmers with six medals at Euros, including four gold. The 21-year-old Italian claimed individual gold in the men’s 100 back (52.21) and 50 fly (22.89), and added a silver medal and new National Record in the 50 back (24.40). Ceccon also split 47.88 on Italy’s victorious men’s 400 free relay, led off in 52.82 on the winning men’s medley relay, and had the exact same opening leg on the runner-up Italian mixed medley relay. Coming off a breakout showing at the World Championships where he broke the world record in the 100 back, Ceccon followed up extremely well in Rome and performed in front of his home crowd.
- Nicolo Martinenghi (ITA) – Martinenghi was simply a dominant force in the men’s sprint breaststroke events at the championships, sweeping the gold medals in the 50 and 100-meter events with significant margins of victory. After claiming the world title in the 100 breast earlier this year, Martinenghi matched his Italian Record of 58.26 from Budapest to lead countryman Federico Poggio (58.98) by more than seven-tenths of a second, and he followed up by swimming a lifetime best and National Record of 26.33 in the 50 breast to win by more than six-tenths (also going 1-2 with Italian teammate Simone Cerasuolo). In addition to breaking his National Record, Martinenghi’s 26.33 swim also moves him into a tie for #2 all-time in the event. He also split 58.13 on the runner-up mixed 400 medley relay, and in the final event of the competition, produced the second-fastest relay split of his career in 57.72 as the Italian men roared to gold by four seconds in the 400 medley relay.
SWIM OF THE MEET: DAVID POPOVICI (ROU), 100 FREESTYLE
A lot has already been written about this swim, so we don’t need to get too deep here, but Popovici’s performance in the 100 free was monumental and clearly comes out as the swim of the meet.
The world records set in 2009 have slowly been chipped away at over the years, but there are still a number of them on the books. Cielo’s 46.91 mark was one that seemed like it was inevitably going to fall from either Caeleb Dressel or Kyle Chalmers in the last few years, but neither has been quite able to get their hands on it.
Popovici finally got it done last Saturday, flipping in 22.74 at the 50 before storming home in 24.12 to put up a time of 46.86. In the semis, his back-half split of 24.05 marked the fastest in history. In addition to breaking the suited world record by five one-hundredths, he also takes a tenth off of the fastest time ever recorded in a textile suit, which is Dressel’s 46.96 from 2019.
- David Popovici (ROU), 200 freestyle – Breaking the 1:43-barrier in the 200 free is something that hadn’t been done since 2009 when Popovici did it on Monday, clocking 1:42.97 for the fastest textile swim in history. Incredibly enough, Popovici essentially predicted he’d get there less than a year ago. Despite it being the fourth-fastest swim in history, Popovici’s 1:42.97 somehow only ranks fifth among male swims at the meet in terms of FINA points, which shows just how far out there Biedermann’s world record is.
- Mykhailo Romanchuk (UKR), 1500 freestyle – After Gregorio Paltrinieri roared to gold in the men’s 800 freestyle earlier in the competition, the 1500 free final on the last night of racing looked as though it was going to be a coronation of sorts for the hometown hero in front of the Italian crowd. Mykhailo Romanchuk had other ideas, however, as the Ukrainian didn’t let Paltrinieri get away early (like he did at the World Championships), and made a move just prior to the halfway mark to pull into the lead. Romanchuk didn’t look back after that, successfully defending his title in a new lifetime best and National Record of 14:36.10. The swim also moved Romanchuk up from sixth to fourth on the all-time performers’ list, and his time stands up as the 10th-fastest ever. Adding to the significance of Romanchuk’s swim was that he managed to do so amid the ongoing Russian invasion in his home country.
- Hungary, 4×200 freestyle relay – The Hungarian men won their first European relay title in 68 years on the opening night of competition, claiming gold in the men’s 4×200 free in a new National Record of 7:05.38. Kristof Milak split 1:44.42 on the anchor leg, and he was joined by Nandor Nemeth (1:46.28), Richard Marton (1:47.01) and Balazs Hollo (1:47.67), as the quartet won Hungary’s 100th gold medal in European Championship history.
NATION OF THE MEET: ITALY
The Italian men won a whopping 20 medals across 20 events, including eight gold. Thomas Ceccon and Nicolo Martinenghi led the way with two individual titles apiece, and Gregorio Paltrinieri and Alberto Razzetti also won one gold and one individual silver medal.
Italy also steamrolled to decisive victories in the men’s 4×100 free and 4×100 medley relays, and despite falling to the Hungarians, put forth a strong effort to place second in the 4×200 free.
Leonardo Deplano, Alessandro Miressi, Lorenzo Galossi, Simone Cerasuolo, Federico Poggio, Luca Pizzini and Pier Andrea Matteazzi also made their way onto the podium during the competition, giving the Italian men 11 different individual medalists. There were only four events on the men’s program in which Italy didn’t win at least one medal.
- Hungary – Led by Kristof Milak, the Hungarian men won nine medals throughout the competition, including four gold. Milak won the 100 fly, 200 fly and won silver in the 100 free, Hubert Kos claimed the 200 IM, and Milak anchored them home to victory in the 4×200 free relay. Along with a silver medal showing in the 4×100 free, Hungary had individual male medals come from Benedek Kovacs, Richard Marton and David Verraszto. The Hungarian women did their part, adding six medals to rank the nation second on the overall medal table behind Italy.
JUNIOR SWIMMER OF THE MEET: Diogo Ribeiro (POR)
Note that we have excluded David Popovici from being eligible to win this award since he won overall swimmer of the meet.
Portugal’s Diogo Ribeiro quietly had a very good showing in Rome, highlighted by his bronze medal victory in the men’s 50 butterfly.
The 17-year-old lowered his Portuguese National Record in each round of the event, culminating with a time of 23.07 in the final to take down established names such as Nyls Korstanje (top seed out of semis), Andrii Govorov (world record holder) and Szebasztian Szabo (defending champion).
His swim also fell just two one-hundredths shy of the World Junior Record, with Russia’s Andrei Minakov having set the mark of 23.05 back in October 2020.
Ribeiro also made the final of the 100 fly, setting a new National Record and breaking 52 seconds for the first time in the semis in 51.61.
He also made a pair of semi-finals in the 50 free (22.07) and 100 free (48.52), establishing personal bests in both and a new National Record in the latter.
- Lorenzo Galossi (ITA) – The 16-year-old Galossi took off nearly three seconds to win bronze in the men’s 800 free in a time of 7:43.37, shattering the World Junior Record previously held by Mack Horton. Galossi added a fifth-place finish in the 400 free, and got the nod to swim the final of the 4×200 free relay where he helped the Italians win the silver medal.
BREAKOUT SWIMMER OF THE MEET: YOHANN NDOYE BROUARD (FRA)
There were no obvious breakout swimmers for the men in Rome, as the majority of the top performers were previously-established names who had already done plenty of damage on the international scene.
The one name that stood out as a breakout swimmer of sorts is France’s Yohann Ndoye Brouard, who won his first major international title in the men’s 200 backstroke and added an individual bronze in the 100 back.
Last year, Ndoye Brouard appeared to be in good enough form to make the Olympic final of the 100 back, but in the semis he missed the flags and crashed into the wall, later revealing it was due to a degenerative eye problem. Later in the Games, he led off the French medley relay in 52.77, more than four-tenths under what it took to make the individual 100 back final.
It appeared as though bad luck had struck the 21-year-old again in Rome, as a faulty backstroke wedge in the 200 back semis meant he had to re-swim the event on his own at the end of the session. He did so seamlessly, posting the second-fastest time overall, and then went on to win the final in a new French Record of 1:55.62.
It’s a bit of a stretch to call this a ‘breakout’ meet for Ndoye Brouard—he was fourth in the 100 back at the World Championships in June—but in the end, he fulfilled some of the potential he’s shown for the last couple of years and came away with some major hardware for the first time.
He won bronze in the 100 back, clocking 52.92 after leading the semis in 52.97 (his PB is 52.50 from Worlds), and he added a third individual final in the 50 back. In the men’s 4×100 medley relay, his 53.06 lead-off helped propel the French to a silver medal.