The Fastest 18 & Under Swimmers Of All-Time In The Men’s 100 Freestyle

In the last few days, Romanian David Popovici lowered the men’s 100 freestyle world junior record twice at the 2021 European Junior Swimming Championships. Popovici first brought the world junior record down to a 47.56 on day 1 of the meet while swimming the opening leg of Romania’s 4×100 freestyle relay. Then he did it again in the final of the individual event with an astonishing 47.30.

A junior swimmer in men’s swimming must be 18 years of age or younger as of December 31st of the year of the swim. That’s why Popovici’s feat is so impressive, since he will turn 17 in September.

To put his performance in perspective, Instagram’s Swimming Stats page has published the all-time list of the fastest 18-year-old & under in men’s 100 freestyle.

In the top 15 18&U in the history of the event, Popovici is the youngest one. In fact, he is the only swimmer under 17 on the list. The closest to him is Russian Ivan Girev, who was 17 years and 55 days in 2017 with a 48.33, more than one second slower than Popovici.

The Romanian is also almost two full years younger than the previous world junior record holder, Andrei Minakov, when the Russian set a 47.57 at the Russian Nationals last year.

Note that not all swimmers on this list were junior swimmers at the day of their swims. For example, Jack Cartwright recorded a 47.97 in 2017 at 18 years and 307 days of age, but on December 31st of that year, he already had turned 19.

The first 18-year-old to crack the 48-second barrier was Kyle Chalmers during the preliminary heats at the 2016 Olympics with a 47.90. He would break the world junior record twice more in Rio (47.88 in the semis and 47.58 in the final, which he won).

Then, Minakov broke Chalmers’ record last year with that 47.57, just to be surpassed twice this week by Popovici.

The first 18&U swimmer to crack the 49-second barrier in the men’s 100 freestyle was Ian Thorpe, with a 48.96 during the 2001 World Championships. It took 15 years for a 18-year-old enter in the 47-second territory. Five years from 2016, David Popovici is getting close to a 46. And he has more than two years ahead of him as a 18&U swimmer. How far can he go?

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Tokyo 2021
1 year ago

the most impressive of Popovici’s perfomance, the split of the final 50s 24.39, Jason Lezak finished in 24.56 to give the USA the epic victory in the 4 x 100 free Beijing 2008.

Tokyo 2021
Reply to  Tokyo 2021
1 year ago

24.33 instead of 24.39

Bobo Gigi
1 year ago

In my list above I forgot to mention James Magnussen.

1 year ago

Open to the possibility that Alexandr Shchegolev might just end up being the deciding factor in the 4×100 free.

Reply to  Emg1986
1 year ago

They have Grinev, Morozov, Rylov, and Zhilkin too so I don’t know who will swim the final.

1 year ago

Hunter Armstrong isn’t on this list? Must be a typo

Rodrigo Afonso Briza Junqueira
1 year ago

And he has more than two years ahead of him as a 18&U swimmer”

Isn’t that just ONE year (I mean, one and a half year)? Because he’s gonna be over 18 by the end of 2022…

Reply to  Rodrigo Afonso Briza Junqueira
1 year ago

No he won’t. He won’t be “over 18” until September 15, 2023.

Rodrigo Afonso Briza Junqueira
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

A junior swimmer in men’s swimming must be 18 years of age or younger as of December 31st of the year of the swim. That’s why Popovici’s feat is so impressive, since he will turn 17 in September.”

By december 2022 he’s gonna be 18 (and 3 months)
By december 2023 he’s gonna be 19 (and 3 months). Still a junior?

Reply to  Rodrigo Afonso Briza Junqueira
1 year ago

The list is 18 and under . It’s not going by what age they will be by Dec31st that year . I thought the same thing though at first.

1 year ago

I think junior swimmers are judged based on their later accomplishments. If Thorpe and Phelps never ended up Olympic gold and had their WR’s subsequently lowered by others, their 16yo achievements would be less impressive. We don’t think of that as a criteria of “greatest junior swimmer” but their later continuation of the trajectory is important is how we judge them

Reply to  John26
1 year ago

I agree with your comments many a youngster has posted quick times in the past but have not continued on the same trajectory
This can be seen in past GB juniors with some exceptions

1 year ago

Any idea why there are no Americans on the list?

Kevin Cordes Neck
Reply to  Dkro
1 year ago

Cuz American sprinters peak during their time in the NCAA system.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kevin Cordes Neck
Bobo Gigi
1 year ago

No American in that list.
It’s not a coincidence.
The bathtub effect for most of US kids and the focus on underwaters, power, lot of kilometers to the detriment of above the water and stroke technique training?
Their LCM is usually better while becoming older.

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
1 year ago

Actually, it’s not quite universal like that Steve, though predominantly so for sure. When I was actively training & competing decades ago (now just training only), we always loved to work out in the summer at the outdoor 50M pool in our area. Though I was a year-round swimmer in northern Indiana, the summer league was always outdoors in 25 & 50M pools, which was always both fun & a challenge. Also, there are some clubs that had 25m pools almost entirely outdoor. So we were restricted to outdoors for meters from May – September only. We had lots of turns in our indoor YMCA 25y pool, but that was long before the advent of the 5th stroke & its… Read more »