David Popovici became the second-youngest man in history to break the 100m freestyle world record when he set the Foro Italico alight at the 2022 European Championships.
The Romanian – lightning quick around the turns – stopped the clock at 46.86 to take 0.05secs off the previous standard set by Cesar Cielo in the very same pool in Rome in 2009.
He was 17 years and 11-months old, six months older than Andy Coan of the USA who held the WR for 20 days in 1975.
David said: “So, I’m sort of in a world-record club and after I finished, Kristof Milak said to me ‘welcome to the club’.
“That was a nice welcome, I guess. It’s good to set new boundaries. Records are meant to be broken. I hope someone’s going to break mine and that I’m going to break his. That’s what sport is all about.”
David had put the world on notice with fourth in the 200m freestyle and seventh over 100m at the Tokyo Olympics.
A year later he was the dominant freestyler at the World and European Championships, winning double gold in both Budapest and Rome.
There were also seven golds across the 2022 European and World Junior Championships before ending the year with 200m freestyle silver and a world junior record over 100m at the World Short-Course Championships in Melbourne.
Not that David is a particular fan of swimming in the 25m pool, saying: “I swam well, but against my will because I still hate short course. I have to adapt but it’s looking good.”