Wednesday, September 14 2022

New club leader: David Popovici quickly racks up 47-second efforts in the 100m freestyle

During a career, only one performance of under 48 in the 100 meters freestyle is decisive. Only the most elite athletes are capable of such an effort, and the timing is cause for celebration. Tap into the realm of 47 seconds and international prime time status is immediately achieved. Plus, it means competition for global hardware.

David Popovici lives in the 47 second stratosphere.

Although the Romanian youngster won’t turn 18 until next month, he has already broken the 48-second barrier 10 times. Repeat: The 17-year-old boasts double-digit performances in the 47-second range, headlining a career-best 47.13. And, at the next European Championships in Rome, expect a few outings to 47 extra points.

Coming off of a world championship in June in which he won the first two world crowns of his career, Popovici will play in a continental showcase. The European Championships are set to start later this week at Foro Italico, a venue that has served as the site of many top performances over the years. It will not be a surprise if Popovici enriches the history of the Roman installation.

This summer has been something of a showcase for Popovici. Although he excelled at last summer’s Olympics in Tokyo with appearances in the 100m freestyle and 200m freestyle finals, this year has been a groundbreaking campaign. At the World Championships, Popovici routed the opposition in the 200m freestyle, grabbing gold by more than a second over his teenage compatriot Hwang Sunwoo from Korea. Later, he added a title in the 100 freestyle.

Less than a month later, Popovici had a hat-trick in the 50-100-200 freestyle at the European Junior Championships, which took place in Otopeni. More than anything, Popovici recognized the importance of the race in Romania, as his participation was a chance to raise the profile of his sport in his native country.

With his youth and precocious talent, Popovici understands the high expectations that will follow him on the road to the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

“Yes, I’m fully aware that what’s coming now is the hardest part, even harder than preparing for the World Championships and performing well there,” Popovici said. “But I have good people around me who will protect me and guide me through this phase, so I can always focus on swimming. The only pressure I feel is that now I’m the leader of our national team, and I’m supposed to motivate others and lead our guys, which is something new, but I accepted this role and what goes with it.

So what will Popovici do in Rome? In top form for the world championships, can Popovici replicate these results? Can he make a run for the 100m freestyle world record, which stood at 46.91 against the Brazilian Cesar Cielo since the super-suit circus of 2009. It’s not easy to maintain peak condition for two major competitions in the same season, but Popovici has proven himself to be a generational talent. To doubt him would be unwise.

If nothing else, Popovici could have at least four more chances to reach 47-second territory in the 100m freestyle – three individual runs of the event and a possible first run of the Romanian 400m freestyle relay. It’s a special arena to reach, but one that talented youth have made routine.

David Popovici – 100 freestyle (performance below 48)
47.13 (Worlds-2022)
47.30 (Euro Juniors-2021)
47.34 (Euro Juniors-2022)
47.54 (Euro Juniors-2022)
47.56 (Euro Juniors-2021)
47.58 (Worlds-2022)
47.60 (Worlds-2022)
47.69 (Euro Juniors-2022)
47.72 (JO-2021)
47.76 (Euro Juniors-2022)

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