The 17-year-old beat the previous record set by Brazilian Cesar Cielo in 2009 by 0.05 seconds, ahead of Hungary’s Christoph Milak and Italy’s Alessandro Miresi.

Popovici, who won the 100m and 200m freestyle world titles earlier this year, became the youngest world record holder in the 100m freestyle.

“I wanted to go as fast as possible and it looks like I did,” he told the BBC, describing himself as a “skinny legend”.

“The fantasy now could be 45 (for the second time),” he added. “Adam Peaty is a pioneer in terms of the goals he has set. It was science fiction to others, but not to him.’

British swimmer Peaty set himself the goal of becoming the first person to swim the 100m breaststroke in under 57 seconds in his career, a feat he achieved by breaking his own record in 2019.

The prospect of setting a new 100-meter freestyle record looked likely when Popovici broke the 47-second barrier for the first time in Friday’s semifinals. After his record swim, he was congratulated by Cielo the next day.

“I knew this day was coming… And it happened! My 100-meter freestyle world record was broken after 13 years!” Siela wrote on Twitter.
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“Congratulations, Popovici! Glad to have kept this huge record for so long!

“There’s a new fastest man in the world in the 100m freestyle, and he’s just getting started!”

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