17-year-old Romanian world champion David Popovici became the youngest swimmer to break the men's 100m freestyle world record at the European Swimming Championships here on Saturday.
Popovici stormed home in a time of 46.86 seconds and shattered the 13-year-old world mark of 46.91 set by Brazil's Cesar Cielo at the 2009 FINA world championships, which also were held at the same pool at Rome's historic Foro Italico.
In the men's 100m freestyle final, Popovici was the second in the first 50m with 22.74 and turned to dominate the field with 24.12 in the second half, beating Hungarian butterfly world champion Kristof Milak 47.47 and Italian Alessandro Miressi 47.63, respectively.
Popovici also broke the world junior record, European record, European junior record and meet record at the same time.
The Romanian young sensation claimed two gold in the 100m and 200m free at the FINA worlds in Budapest, Hungary in June.
Popovici was convinced that this was his chance to erase the name of Brazil's Cesar Ciehlo's from the record books and replace it with his own; but only by swimming .05 faster than the 46.91 mark that was set in this very same pool at the 2009 FINA World Championships.
It took a step by step improvement to achieve a new world record of 46.86, one that brought a huge smile to the face of 17 year old David Popovici and brought the crowd at the Foro Italico pool to its feet. Popovici shaved 0.05 off a dusty world record that was set in a shiny suit.
The Romanian split 22.74 in his first lap coming back in 24.12 beating Hungary's Kristof Milak by .61 of a second. He became the youngest world record holder in history in this event. A historic mark at a historic venue.
"Yesterday I said that the European record was just one step in the right direction - and I was right. There was no rush and I had to be extremely patient about the world record. I'm still hot from the race, but these championships are not over yet, nor this very long season. 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 which was set here in 2009 by Cesar Cielo," Popovici said.
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