If you have been tuned into the world of swimming over the past few months, the name you’ve probably heard the most is David Popovici. David Popovici has risen to prominence in the male freestyle races over the past few years and made his Olympic debut in 2021. One year after he qualified for both the 100 and 200 freestyle Olympic finals, David Popovici had the summer of his life (so far) in 2022.
It was a crowded year for high-level swim meets, which is partly due to the disruption in the calendar caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This summer featured a World Championships, World Junior Championships, European Championships, and European Junior Championships. Not many swimmers participated in all four of those meets but David Popovici certainly did.
The first meet on the agenda was World Championships. Popovici started off there with a clean victory in the 100 freestyle, touching in a 47.58 to defeat Maxime Grousset‘s 47.64. Popovici took gold there but was actually a bit quicker during semi-finals when he hit a 47.13 to break the world junior record. At the same meet, Popovici locked down the win in the 200 freestyle, notching a 1:43.21 world junior record to out-touch Hwang Sun-woo‘s 1:44.47. Popovici could have stopped there and would have still made the list as one of 2022’s most successful swimmers. Only two other males won 2 titles at the 2022 World Championships (Leon Marchand and Kristof Milak).
But David Popovici kept going. Using the momentum from a sensational World Championships debut, Popovici won another three pairs of freestyle titles at the European Championships, European Junior Championships, and then World Junior Championships. You can check out a full breakdown of each of his prelims, semi-finals, and finals performance in both of those events below, but first, we’ll cover the two biggest swims of the summer.
Popovici’s crowning achievement of 2022 (and of his career thus far) was at the European Championships when he broke the long-standing 100 freestyle world record. Popovici swam a 46.86 to knock down Cesar Cielo‘s 2009 world record of 46.91. The time made Popovici the quickest man in history and also brought down the meet record, European record, world junior record, European junior record, and Romanian national record. Popovici split a 22.74 on the way out and closed in a 24.12 to complete a swim that shook the world.
Just a few days after his world record-breaking swim, David Popovici looked like he might do it again in the 200 freestyle. Popovici opened his race in the 200 freestyle final of the European Championships with a 50.35, which was just 0.23 seconds off Paul Biedermann‘s world record split from 2009. Popovici got within a second of Biedermann’s 1:42.00 and reset the world junior record with a 1:42.97. He became the third fastest male in history behind Biedermann and Michael Phelps (1:42.96).
David Popovici – Summer 2022 Performances
|Meet||Round||100 freestyle||200 freestyle|
|World Junior Championships||Prelims||49.14||1:49.40|
|European Championships||Prelims||47.20 (CR)||1:46.26|
|Semi-finals||46.98 (WJR, CR)||1:44.91|
|Finals||46.86 (WR, WJR, CR)||1:42.97 (WJR, CR)|
|European Junior Championships||Prelims||49.61||1:48.75|
David Popovici won eight individual titles across those four meets in the summer of 2022 and has established himself as one of the best swimmers we’ve seen in a long time. To relive all the magic from the summer of Popovici, check out the videos below.
World Championships – 100 Freestyle Final (47.58)
European Championships – 100 Freestyle Semi-Final (46.98)
— Media Sports (@MediaNSport) August 12, 2022