Swimming: Romanian Popovici breaks the world record for the 100m freestyle in the final of the European Championships

He broke a record that had been established when he was… Four years old! The young Romanian prodigy David Popovici, still in the junior category, improved on Saturday in Rome the world record for the 100m freestyle in the final of the European swimming championships.

At 17, the recent double world champion erased from the shelves the mark of the Brazilian César Cielo, who had held since 2009, by winning in 46.86, or 5 hundredths better. He beat Hungarian Kristof Milak (47.47) and Italian Alessandro Miressi (47.63), Frenchman Maxime Grousset having to settle for 4th place.

Popovici, crowned at the Budapest Worlds in the 100 and 200 m freestyle, has therefore erased the world record achieved in combination – a bygone era – by Cielo thirteen years ago.

In the semi-finals, he had already made history

Friday in the semi-final, in a time of 46 seconds 98, the native of Bucharest became only the fourth man to go under 47 seconds behind Cielo, the Frenchman Alain Bernard (46.94) and the American Caeleb Dressel (46.98). Note that Bernard’s brand had not been officially approved due to an invalid combination.

Revealed at the European Junior Championships last summer, already in Rome, Popovici confirmed a few weeks later at the Tokyo Olympics. When he was only 16 years old, he failed to 2 hundredths of bronze in the final of the 200m freestyle before taking seventh place in the final of the 100m freestyle.

In Budapest last June, he became the first man to complete the 100-200m freestyle double at world championships in nearly fifty years. His performance on Saturday, in the Olympic basin of the Foro Italico in Rome, ends up installing him at the top of world men’s swimming.

In the same afternoon, the French backstroker, Yohann Ndoye Brouard, won his first major title in the 200m backstroke. He becomes European champion and signs a feat the day after his misadventure in the semi-finals, during which his toe clips broke!


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