David Popovici. (AP Photo)

ROME: David Popovici broke the men’s 100m freestyle world record to win gold in the European Championships in Rome on Saturday.
The 17-year-old Romanian two-time world champion swam 46.86 seconds to cut 0.05 seconds off the old mark set by Brazilian Cesar Cielo in the same pool at the 2009 World Championships in the era of flotation suits.
The best time in the textile suit was 46.96 achieved by the American Olympic champion Caeleb Dressel at the 2019 World Championships.
Hungarian Kristof Milak finished second on Saturday and Italian Alessandro Miressi third.
Popovici qualified for Friday’s final with a new European record of 46.98 seconds.
Only two other swimmers managed to dive under 48 seconds on Friday, Milak and Miressi in the other semi, but both were far behind Popovici.
In June, Popovici became the first man to complete the 100-200m freestyle double at the World Championships in nearly 50 years.
In a golden summer, he also won three European junior titles in his hometown of Bucharest.
Another 17-year-old world champion also added European gold on Saturday.
Italy’s Benedetta Pilato won the women’s 100m breaststroke in 1:05.97, more than a second and a half off the world record set by American Lilly King in 2017.
Pilato was followed home by his compatriot Lisa Angiolini and Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte, 50m world champion.
Pilato imitated his compatriot Federico Poggio, winner of the men’s 200m breaststroke on Friday.
swedish veteran Sarah Sjostrom won gold in the women’s 50m butterfly for the fifth time in 24.96. The 28-year-old is the only woman to go under 25 seconds in events in a 50m pool.
France’s Marie Wattel won silver in 25.33 with Maike de Waard of the Netherlands a distant third in 25.62.
Frenchman Yohann Ndoye Brouard won the first final of the evening by winning the men’s 200m backstroke in 1 min 55.62 sec.
Ndoye Brouard had to swim his semi-final twice on Friday because of a problem with his starting block and ended up qualifying on time in an empty pool.
He beat the Hungarian Benedek Kovacs in 1:56.03 and the English Luke Greenbank (1:56.15).

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