Skinny water magician sets world record

As David Popovich sped past older rivals in the pool this summer, it seemed inevitable that the skinny 17-year-old would threaten the world record. The only surprise when he broke his 100m freestyle mark in Rome on Saturday was that he got so fast.

On Friday, the Romanian set a European record by winning the semi-finals of the European Swimming Championships in Rome, becoming only the fourth man ever to swim under 47 seconds. This was more than half a second faster than the gold medal time at the FINA World Championships in June.

On Saturday, he swam even faster, swimming 46.86 seconds, beating the record set by Brazil’s César Cielo at the 2009 World Championships by 0.05 seconds.

Photo: EPA-EFE

“I said yesterday that the European record was just a step in the right direction and it was right. There was no rush and I had to be very patient for the world record,” Popovich said. Told.

At the World Championships in Budapest, Popovich qualified by overtaking Caleb Dressel, who swam the fastest 100m in a textile suit. The Olympic champion withdrew before the semi-finals.

“It’s great to be able to say I’m the fastest I’ve ever been, and it’s good to know that I’ve collided with all the giants in this race,” Popovich said.

His coach, Adrian Radulescu, said he was also surprised at how quickly Popovich progressed.

“It’s amazing that it happened so quickly,” Radulescu said.

Asked on Thursday why he is so successful, Popovich said it comes at a price.

“When soccer player Erling Haaland was asked the same question, he replied: ‘Hard work.’ So it’s really hard work and a lot of sacrifice,” he said. “What is it that other people don’t want to do? That includes living a completely different lifestyle.”

After Roman Popovich is scheduled to head to the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships in Lima

“Really, all I want out of this competition and the World Juniors in Peru is just to have fun. Medals, records, everything, good times are just a bonus. .

Not everyone shares his idea of ​​fun.

“All sports are fun. I was extremely tired and wanted to throw up,” he said. “I have all sorts of lactic acid issues…that’s fine. It’s not fun then, but in half an hour I don’t want to kill myself anymore and I feel like it’s worth it,” he said.

Popovich was nine years old when he joined the swimming club coached by Radulescu.

“He wasn’t easy to train. He was mostly looking for fun and skipping his turn. But there was something special about him. He was very We were competitive.

“He must have been 10 years old. We had a competition for swimmers his age,” the coach said. “In the 25-meter swim, the last one dropped out…every time David finished second to last. In front of him, they wanted to prove they were good, they Tired. In the last race, David won because the other survivor was so tired.”

Popovich is unusually thin for a top swimmer.

“David has a keen sense of water,” Radulescu said. “It’s not how much power he can generate, it’s how he can turn it into speed. Yes, he’s very skinny, but he can swim faster.” have enough power to

“He will be 18 in September, and his body will grow and evolve into male size.

Popovich already has a nickname: The Magician.

“When I was younger I was into magic, card tricks and illusions, but not now. It was just a hobby before swimming,” he said. “But yes, some people call me a magician because of what I do in the pool, but again, I don’t think that describes me. I like to think of him as a simple guy who just swims fast.”

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