David Popovici is youngest man to break swimming world record since Michael Phelps

David Popovici

David Popovici, a 17-year-old Romanian known as the Chlorine Daddy, became the youngest male swimmer to break an individual world record since Michael Phelps.

Popovici lowered a 13-year-old record in the 100m freestyle, arguably the trademark event in the sport, to 46.86 seconds at the European Championships in Rome on Saturday.

He broke the mark of 46.91 set by Brazilian Cesar Cielo at the 2009 World Championships at the peak of the since-banned high-tech swimsuit era, at the same pool at the Foro Italico. Popovici became the second-youngest man to hold the world record in the event after American Andy Coan, who held it for 20 days at age 17 in 1975.

“It [the world record] wasn’t the priority, that’s for sure,” Popovici told European Aquatics. “There was no rush, and I had to be extremely patient about the world record.”

Popovici, who turns 18 on Sept. 15, became the youngest man to break an individual world record in an Olympic swimming event since Phelps set the fourth of his 29 individual records in 2003, according to Gracenote.

Then on Monday, Popovici won the 200m free in 1:42.97, the fourth-fastest time in history and fastest ever outside of the since-banned suit era.

Popovici made his first big splash last year, dropping his 100m free personal best by 1.96 seconds and swimming a time that would have won the 2016 Olympics. He missed a Tokyo Olympic medal in the 200m free by two hundredths of a second while lowering his personal best by .58.

At June’s world championships in Budapest, he became the youngest man to win a world title in 15 years and the first man or woman to sweep the 100m and 200m frees at a worlds since the first edition in 1973.

After winning the 200m free at worlds in 1:43.21, a world junior record and the world’s best time for any age in 10 years, he was expected to have a showdown with Olympic gold medalist Caeleb Dressel in the 100m free until Dressel withdrew from the meet on unspecified medical grounds.

Also Saturday, Hungarian Kristof Milak took silver behind Popovici’s world record in 47.47 seconds, a time that would have also taken silver at worlds. Milak is the Olympic and world champion and world record holder in the 200m butterfly and world champion in the 100m fly, where Dressel holds the world record and Olympic title.

“My goal is very clear: I just want to reach a level in this event to arrive to Paris 2024 with the capability of swimming a time somewhere very close to 47 [seconds],” Milak said, according to FINA.

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Kenenisa Bekele still eyes Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record, but a duel must wait

Kenenisa Bekele

LONDON — Kenenisa Bekele made headlines last week by declaring “of course I am the best” long distance runner ever. But the Ethiopian was fifth-best at Sunday’s London Marathon, finishing 74 seconds behind Kenya’s Amos Kipruto.

Bekele, 40, clocked 2:05:53, the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. He was with the lead pack until being dropped in the 21st mile.

But Bekele estimated he could have run 90 to 120 seconds faster had he not missed parts of six weeks of training with hip and joint injuries.

“I expect better even if the preparation is short,” he said. “I know my talent and I know my capacity, but really I couldn’t achieve what I expect.”

Bekele is the second-fastest marathoner in history behind Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, who broke his own world record by clocking 2:01:09 at the Berlin Marathon last week.

“I am happy when I see Eliud Kipchoge run that time,” Bekele said. “It motivates all athletes who really expect to do the same thing.”


Bekele’s best time was within two seconds of Kipchoge’s previous world record (2:01:39). He described breaking Kipchoge’s new mark as the “main goal” for the rest of his career.

“Yes, I hope, one day it will happen, of course,” Bekele said. “With good preparation, I don’t know when, but we will see one more time.”

Nobody has won more London Marathons than Kipchoge, a four-time champion who set the course record (2:02:37) in 2019. But the two-time Olympic marathon champion did not run this year in London, as elite marathoners typically choose to enter one race each spring and fall.

Bekele does not know which race he will enter in the spring. But it will not be against Kipchoge.

“I need to show something first,” Bekele said. “I need to run a fast time. I have to check myself. This is not enough.”

Kipchoge will try to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles at the Paris Games. Bekele, who will be 42 in 2024, has not committed to trying to qualify for the Ethiopian team.

“There’s a long time to go before Paris,” Bekele said. “At this moment I am not decided. I have to show something.”

So who is the greatest long distance runner ever?

Bekele can make a strong case on the track:

Four Olympic medals (three gold)
Six World Championship medals (five gold)
Former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder

Two Olympic medals
Two World Championship medals (one gold)

But Kipchoge can make a strong case on the pavement:

Second-fastest marathoner in history
Two World Marathon Major victories

Four of the five best marathon times in history
Two-time Olympic marathon champion
12 World Marathon Major victories

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Yalemzerf Yehualaw, Amos Kipruto win London Marathon

Yalemzerf Yehualaw

Ethiopian Yalemzerf Yehualaw became the youngest female runner to win the London Marathon, while Kenyan Amos Kipruto earned the biggest victory of his career in the men’s race.

Yehualaw, 23, clocked 2:17:26, prevailing by 41 seconds over 2021 London champ Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya.

Yehualaw tripped and fell over a speed bump around the 20-mile mark. She quickly rejoined the lead pack, then pulled away from Jepkosgei by running the 24th mile in a reported 4:43, which converts to 2:03:30 marathon pace; the women’s world record is 2:14:04.

Yehualaw and Jepkosgei were pre-race favorites after world record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya withdrew Monday with a right hamstring injury.

On April 24, Yehualaw ran the fastest women’s debut marathon in history, a 2:17:23 to win in Hamburg, Germany.

She has joined the elite tier of female marathoners, a group led by Kenyan Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic, New York City and Boston champion. Another Ethiopian staked a claim last week when Tigist Assefa won Berlin in 2:15:37, shattering Yehualaw’s national record.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, finished Sunday’s race in 3:20:20 at age 65.


Kipruto, 30, won the men’s race in 2:04:39. He broke free from the leading group in the 25th mile and crossed the finish line 33 seconds ahead of Ethiopian Leul Gebresilase, who said he had hamstring problems.

Kipruto, one of the pre-race favorites, had never won a major marathon but did finish second behind world record holder Eliud Kipchoge in Tokyo (2022) and Berlin (2018) and third at the world championships (2019) and Tokyo (2018).

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, was fifth after being dropped in the 21st mile. His 2:05:53 was the fastest-ever marathon by a runner 40 years or older. Bekele ran his personal best at the 2019 Berlin Marathon — 2:01:41 — and has not run within four minutes of that time since.

The major marathon season continues next Sunday with the Chicago Marathon, headlined by a women’s field that includes Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich and American Emily Sisson.

London returns next year to its traditional April place after being pushed to October the last three years due to the pandemic.

MORE: Bekele looks ahead to Kipchoge chase after London Marathon

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