Romanian teenager David Popovici has capped off the most incredible week of his young career after claiming another gold medal at the European Championships in Rome.
Popovici left the swimming world gobsmacked after clocking the third fastest 200m freestyle time in history, in yet another extraordinary demonstration of his freakish talent.
The Romanian, who only turns 18 next month, cruised to victory in 1min 42.97sec with Switzerland's Antonio Djakovic in second place and Austria's Felix Auboeck third, both over two seconds behind.
The 17-year-old had already broken the world record to claim gold in the 100m freestyle in Rome on Saturday - his 46.86sec swim shaving 0.05sec off the previous benchmark set by Brazil's Cesar Cielo at the 2009 World Championships.
On Monday in the Italian capital, Popovici was at it again as he set about trying to break the 200m freestyle world mark of 1min 42sec that Germany's Paul Biedermann has held since 2009.
Not many expected Popovici to get so close to the record at this early stage of his career, with the teenager's incredible effort leaving the swimming world in awe.
David Popovici just went broke the World Junior Record in the 200 Freestyle with a 1:42.97...THIS KID IS INSANE!!!! 🤯 pic.twitter.com/jIQFZZeP2p
— Kyle Sockwell (@kylesockwell) August 15, 2022
𝐏 𝐎 𝐏 𝐎 𝐕 𝐈 𝐂 𝐈 𝐖 𝐉 𝐑 🇷🇴
What a race from David Popovici! He breaks the World Junior Record and another Championship Record! Rome will forever remember his impact on this Championships 🥇#LEN #Aquatics #Swimming pic.twitter.com/baKKqsYcHd
— LEN - European Aquatics (@LENaquatics) August 15, 2022
FABULOUS last 4 days for Romania on the international sports arena. David Popovici 2x🥇 at the European Aquatics Championships-100m (WR) a/ 200m Freestyle, Simona Halep winning again an important WTA title (in Toronto) and 8 medals (5🥇,3🥉) at the European Rowing Championships pic.twitter.com/TWEbHWypXl
— Alexandru Gradinar (@AlexGradinar1) August 15, 2022
David Popovici does it AGAIN‼️ #swimming
What a race from David Popovici 🇷🇴! He breaks the World Junior Record and another Championship Record in the Men's 200m Freestyle in 1:42.97 pic.twitter.com/5KNiunDs87
— FINA (@fina1908) August 15, 2022
A new day, a new gold medal🥇 for the incredible Romanian swimmer David Popovici! Victory and new junior world record in 200m freestyle🏊♂️.
Bravo, David! 🇷🇴 https://t.co/cqddwoOVpo
— Embassy of Romania in London (@ROEmbassyLondon) August 15, 2022
"It was a hard race to swim and I think my time is well-earned. This is an excellent time," Popovici said.
"Finally, I could go under 1:43, which is great. The immediate plans are to relax a bit tomorrow and then test the waters in the 400m."
Popovici's world record in the 100m freestyle came after he also took double gold at the World Championships in June.
He will swim in the preliminary heats of the 400m in Rome on Wednesday.
Elsewhere, France won the mixed 4x100m freestyle relay in 3min 22.80sec with Britain in second and Sweden third.
"After the little disappointment in the 200m events it was a great pleasure to win this medal," Maxime Grousset said after France earned bronze in the men's 4x200m and the women finished sixth.
"We have a great team and we are really satisfied."
Italy were fourth despite leading at the halfway mark but there was reason to celebrate for the crowd.
Simona Quadarella claims double gold
Home favourite Simona Quadarella added to her 800m freestyle gold by clinching the women's 1500m in 15min 54.15sec.
Hungary's Viktoria Mihalyvari-Farkas took second and Quadarella's compatriot Martina Rita Caramignoli came third.
Sweden's Louise Hansson won the women's 100m butterfly final in 56.66sec, beating France's Marie Wattel and Bosnia and Herzegovina's Lana Pudar.
"It was a huge race, everything went as we had planned," the 25-year-old Hansson said.
"This is my first individual gold, so I'm really happy to go home with this gold in my bag as I think the whole country will be proud of me."
In the 200m women's breaststroke final, Switzerland's Lisa Mamie took gold ahead of Italy's Martina Carraro and Lithuania's Kotryna Teterevkova, who had led until the final 50m.
Greece's Apostolos Christou pipped Italy's Thomas Ceccon by 0.04sec to take the men's 50m backstroke title, with Germany's Ole Braunschweig collecting bronze.
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