Romanian teen David Popovici smashes 100-meter freestyle world record

Romanian teenager David Popovici has become the youngest swimmer to break the world record in the men’s 100-meter freestyle, beating a record set 13 years ago in the same pool.

World Championships

Popovici, who is just 17,  touched in 46.86 seconds at the European championships to top the time of 46.91 set by Brazil’s César Cielo at the 2009 world championships, which also were held at Rome’s historic Foro Italico.

When Cielo established his record on July 30, 2009, it stood longer than any record in the event’s history, going back to 1905.

“There was no rush, and I had to be extremely patient about the world record,” Popovici said. “It has hurt, but it’s always worth it and I feel fine right now. It felt great, and it’s very special to break this record.”

Popovici’s emergence as a    sets up a potentially huge showdown at the 2024 Paris Olympics, where American star Caeleb Dressel — winner of five gold medals at last summer’s Tokyo Games — will come in as the reigning gold medalist in the 100 free.


Popovici won  gold in the 100 and 200 free at this year’s worlds in Budapest.  However, he didn’t get a chance to swim the 100 against Dressel, who dropped out of the event for health reasons before the final.

On Saturday, in the men’s 100 free final at the 2022 European Championships, Popovici wasn’t even leading at the halfway mark of the race, opening in 22.74.But he swam a g 24.12 final 50 meters, winning the race and shaving 0,05 seconds off the old record.

Here are the All Time Top Performances, Men’s 100 Free:

  1. David Popovici, Romania — 46.86 (2022)
  2. Cesar Cielo, Brazil — 46.91 (2009)
  3. Alain Bernard, France — 46.94 (2009)
  4. Caeleb Dressel, United States — 46.96 (2019)
  5. David Popovici, Romania — 46.98 (2022)
  6. Caeleb Dressel, United States — 47.02 (2021)

Popovici is still a junior and his world record is also a World Junior record, a feat that is very rare amongst male swimmers.

World records

Other men who have held world records as juniors include legends like Michael Phelps and Ian Thorpe.

Here’s a look at David Popovici’s performance this year:

Men’s 100 Free Rankings, 2022:

  1. David Popovici — 46.86
  2. David Popovici — 46.98
  3. David Popovici — 47.13
  4. David Popovici — 47.20
  5. David Popovici — 47.34
  6. Kyle Chalmers — 47.36

David Popovici, Romanian wunderkind, wins gold medal 100 meter freestyle


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