WATCH: David Popovici Breaks Cesar Cielo’s 100 Free WR in Same Pool 13 Years Later





  1. David Popovici (ROU) – 46.86 (WORLD RECORD)
  2. Kristof Milak (HUN) – 47.47
  3. Alessandro Miressi (ITA) – 47.63
  4. Maxime Grousset (FRA) – 47.78
  5. Nandor Nemeth (HUN) – 48.01
  6. Lorenzo Zazzeri (ITA) – 48.10
  7. Thomas Dean (GBR) – 48.23
  8. Andrej Barna (SRB) – 48.38

After breaking the European Record in last night’s semifinals, 17-year-old Romanian David Popovici took down one of the longest standing World Records on the books with a 46.86 in Saturday’s 100 free final.

The record is poetic. Cesar Cielo‘s standard of 46.91 was one of the longest-standing records on the books, having been set in this very same pool 13 years ago. It was also considered by many to be among the fastest, as few people have even been able to scare the mark in the last 13 years.

France’s Maxime Grousset took the race out faster than Popovici, but he wasn’t able to hold up with the youngster’s incredible closing speed. Despite being 2nd at the turn, Popovici’s first 50 split of 22.74 was still faster than his initial split in semifinals last night. Popovici was again electric coming home, splitting a stunning 24.12 on the 2nd 50.

Popovici is now the only swimmer in history to have gone under 47 seconds in the 100 free more than once in his career.

Because Popovici is still a junior, his world record is also a World Junior record, a feat that is very rare amongst male swimmers. Other men who have held world records as juniors include legends like Michael Phelps and Ian Thorpe.

Spencer Penland and YanYan Li contributed to this report.

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Go Kamminga Go
7 months ago

His last 25m is incredible

7 months ago

It was all Popo’s 2nd 50, but y’all probs knew that. But I am curious tho…
Can the human limit be broken to hit an even-split 100 free?
In an ideal 100 free, 1st and 2nd 50 should be between 2-3s apart (at least from my knowledge). Negative splittage isn’t impossible, but can it at the top human performance level?
Popo 22- 22.74/24.12 (46.86) = 1.38s

Now is this the best 100 free splitting ever?
I’d say Phelps leading off the 08 fr relay would be top 100 *free* splitting (he’s been able to do it fly/back).
Phelps 08- 23.31/24.20 (47.51) = 0.89s
(#4 US/#17 All-Time)

Apply that 0.89… Read more »

7 months ago

Look at the crowd!!! How do we get that enthusiasm in the USA?

Go Kamminga Go
Reply to  Susan
7 months ago

An example of deafening crowd

Alison England
7 months ago

There’s a lovely congratulatory tweet on Cesar Cielo’s twitter feed. 🙂

7 months ago


7 months ago

There’s so much more muscle that could go onto that frame, and he’s not even 18 yet and definitely hasn’t stopped growing.

On top of that his start can clearly improve.

I don’t even know what else to say were about to see unprecedented dominance of this event.

Also Agnel’s 1:43.14 is living on borrowed time. Biedermann’s 1:42.00 getting taken down isn’t unfathomable in the next few years at this rate which is crazy to think about.

Reply to  IM FAN
7 months ago

It’s generally believed that the 1:42.00 is on a different level than the 46.91, right? I consider 1:42.96 and 46.91 roughly comparable. So I think a 1:42.7-1:42.9 would certainly be on par with that 46.8.

7 months ago

Keep forgetting the fact that DP has a similar stature to MP he is 6’3 but has a wing span of 6’8 similar to phelps, 6’4 but has a wing span of 6’8.

Swim Nerd
7 months ago

Thought I’d see someone break Cesar’s record in my life. Didnt expect a 17yo skinny kid. Popovici was on my list of candidates, but but not yet. Wow!

Next up – Biedermann’s 200m free record.

Popovici and Kristóf Milák will be at the top for the next decade.

Proves to me that it isnt all about muscle but power relative to resistance. There’s a tipping point of adding muscle creates drag. Hard to find that balance

Reply to  Swim Nerd
7 months ago

It’s nice to see that you don’t have to be sculpted like a god in order to be a great 100 freestyler.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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