WATCH: David Popovici Becomes 4th Swimmer Under 47 Seconds in 100m Free



  • World Record: 46.91, Cesar Cielo (BRA) – 2009 World Championships
  • European Record: 47.11, Kliment Kolesnikov (RUS) – 2021 Olympic Games
  • European Championship Record: 47.20, David Popovici (ROU) – 2022
  • 2020 European Champion: Kliment Kolesnikov (RUS), 47.37

Finals Qualifiers:

  1. David Popovici (ROU), 46.98 ER
  2. Kristof Milak (HUN), 47.76
  3. Alessandro Miressi (ITA), 47.96
  4. Lorenzo Zazzeri (ITA), 48.05
  5. Maxime Grousset (FRA), 48.15
  6. Andrej Barna (SRB), 48.21
  7. Nandor Nemeth (HUN), 48.22
  8. Tom Dean (GBR), 48.44

After setting a championship record in the prelims of the men’s 100 free, David Popovici doubled down in the semis. He roared to a 46.98, setting a new European record and becoming the fourth man under 47 seconds.

He came home in a blistering 24.05, which is the fastest back half split of all time in the men’s 100 free by a tenth of a second. Though he put his head down into the wall, he kept his breathing pattern of every other stroke on the second 50 a lot longer than we see the other top 100 freestylers usually do.

Much has been said about the 17-year-old’s physique compared to his competitors. Popovici is not as big as the pure sprinters, which can lead to him getting bounced around in their wave. That slows him down and forces him to expend more energy than he would if he had clean water in front of him. We’ve seen this play out before; at Worlds, Popovici posted his then-world junior record 47.13 in the semis and then added time in the final, winning in 47.56 while sandwiched between Maxime Grousset and Josh Liendo Edwards. 

After his race in Rome, Popovici told SwimSwam that he’s been working a lot on his technique, especially on the time he spends with his hands on the surface and letting his body slide through the water. You can see that in action from a clip of his race from the underwater camera. The clip highlights how early he begins his catch and how quickly his hands accelerate through the water.

As for what he had to say about the race itself? “It is OK, it’s a fine route to the final and a step towards the right direction. It feels normal for me to go step-by-step and keep improving my time.”

Only .07 seconds away from the world record, Popovici has a chance to take down Cesar Ciehlo‘s 46.91 in the same pool that it was set in at the 2009 World Championships. Watch that swim below.

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1 year ago

I had forgotten about Bernard’s 46.9 until going to the USA swimming website. BTW- In trying to figure out who it was I was forgetting, I tried to use this site first. I went to the upper right corner to “more” then cursor over to far left at “speedo rankings”. Then filled in the appropriate parameters for all time performers male LCM 100 and free and then clicked whatever it was underneath (maybe it said “search”?). That search engine section disappeared and all that came up was a white screen with “nothing” towards the upper left of the white/blank section.

Pavid Dopovici
1 year ago

DP makes me question the importance of weighlifting in swimming. If you look at other 100 free champions like Magnussen, Adrian, Dressel, Chalmers, Bernard, Cielo these dudes are absolutely jacked compared to him. But nonetheless his swims are out of this world , it’s like seing Agnel in 2012 or Popov.

Reply to  Pavid Dopovici
1 year ago

He looks like a sprinter who trime-travelled from the ’90s. Popov looked like him.

Grant Drukker
1 year ago

09 worlds was something else. WRs left and right and the full body suits looked so cool. Not to mention actual good commentating.

1 year ago

The acceleration of his hands during the pull of the stroke is astonishing. The people in the lanes next to him look like they are doing 200 pace in the acceleration of the pull compared to him. Absolutely insane.

Reply to  Name
1 year ago

You know… there are people who just “feel” the water that much more… much clearer, I suppose. They have this innate connection to the water that someone who merely wants it and works hard at it will never have. I’m not really an esoterical person, but it can’t be denied that some swimmers just have “it” and others don’t. They can grab onto the water and hold it better and stronger than everyone else. It’s beautiful!

1 year ago

That is the smirk of someone that knows they have more in the tank. Bonkers

Reply to  Marcotops
1 year ago

In the future? Definitely. At this meet? Doubtful. He clearly went all out in that semi.

Alison England
Reply to  Sub13
1 year ago

With that start?

Reply to  Sub13
1 year ago

This comment aged poorly

1 year ago

With that long loping stroke and that pacing, he’s going to be even better in the 200. Maybe not at this meet but it will happen. If anyone currently swimming can go 1:41.xx I think he can.

1 year ago

in my opinion its a 50/50 tomorrow I think it may help him though that he already broke the 47 second barrier but at the same time those waves the first 50. I still think his 200 could possibly be the swim of the meet and even maybe swim of the year. Wouldn’t be ironic if popovici took down two difficult suited records in one week in the EXACT same pool a little over 13 years later.

Reply to  PFA
1 year ago

Surely he won’t get the 200 WR yet. He even acknowledged in a podcast that it will be the harder record to break.

maximum mchuge
1 year ago

It is so cool and freaky that it is the same pool

Last edited 1 year ago by Lucas Caswell

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

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