17-year-old Romanian swimmer David Popovici broke the men's 100-meter world record at European Championships.
Popovici, who also set the 200-meter junior world record at the same meet, became the youngest record-holder since Michael Phelps.
Popovici has had a stunning ascent in swimming and is becoming a star to watch for Paris 2024.
Swimming's next star is putting his mark on the sport.
On Saturday, David Popovici set a new world record in the men's 100-meter freestyle, swimming a 46.86 at the European Championships to break the record of 46.91 seconds, held by Brazil's Cesar Cielo for 13 years.
In the process, the 17-year-old Popovici became the youngest man since Michael Phelps in 2003 to break an individual world record in an Olympic swimming event.
—LEN - European Aquatics (@LENaquatics) August 13, 2022
Popovici, who calls himself "Chlorine Daddy," had finished in 46.96 in the semifinals, meaning he is the only man to swim two sub-47-second times in history.
Popovici also set the 200-meter junior world record at the meet. The self-professed "skinny legend" — as he dubbed himself to BBC at European Championships — has established himself as a star to watch, just two years ahead of Paris 2024.
As NBC's Nick Zaccardi noted, Popovici's record 200-meter swim (1:42.97) was the fastest time outside of the super swim suit era; those suits have since been banned. Phelps once called 1:42.96 200-meter the best race of his life.
—Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) August 15, 2022
Popovici's ascent in the 100-meter has been remarkable: According to SwimSwam, in April 2021, Popovici's best time in the 100-meter was 49.09. He finished seventh in the 100-meter at the Tokyo Olympics, swimming a 48.04.
He has since shaved off more than a second in a year. He holds the five fastest men's 100-meter freestyle times this year.
Other swimmers marvel at Popovici's technique. Two-time Australian Olympian Brett Hawke compared Popovici to Stephen Curry in an interview with Swimming World Magazine.
"He is one in a million," Hawke said. "He has this ability to put his hand in the water and be unlike any other swimmer. He has a natural, aquatic feel. He's Steph Curry shooting a 3-pointer. You can't replicate it. You can try, but you can't."
Popovici turned down collegiate scholarship offers in the US to remain in Romania, which hasn't produced an Olympic swimmer since 2004, according to NBC.
"[Swimming] is not that popular," Popovici said, via NBC. "The thing is, it will be now a hell of a lot more popular."
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