SwimSwam Pulse: 65% Select Popovici’s 100 Free As Top World Record of 2022

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers which world record performance from last year stood above the rest:

Question: What was the top LCM world record swim of 2022?


It felt like a fitting year-ending poll to revisit the long course world records that were reset in 2022, but there’s little surprise that one swim secured the vast majority of votes.

David Popovici appeared to be well on his way to breaking Cesar Cielo‘s longstanding super-suited world record of 46.91 in the men’s 100 freestyle after he put up an eye-popping time of 47.30 at the 2021 European Junior Championships at the age of 16. Popovici brought his Romanian and World Junior Record down to 47.13 in the semis at the 2022 World Championships in June, and ultimately won gold in the final, though well off his PB in 47.58.

It was just under two months later at the European Championships where the 17-year-old made history, first entering rarefied air by breaking 47 seconds in the semi-finals (46.98) before taking down Cielo’s world record with a blistering time of 46.86 in the final.

Among super-suited world records, the men’s freestyle marks have historically been the toughest to crack over the last 13 years. Even accounting for Popovici’s record, there remain seven individual long course world records on the books from 2009, four of which come in a men’s freestyle event (50, 200, 400, 800).

With that, it’s easy to see why Popovici’s performance garnered over 65 percent of votes.

Tying for second was Ariarne Titmus‘ record in the women’s 400 free and Kristof Milak‘s mark in the men’s 200 fly.

Titmus opted out of competing at the World Championships, so she showed up in peak form at the Australian Championships in May, taking hold of the 400 free world record that Katie Ledecky had held in her grasp since the 2016 Olympics. Titmus rocketed to a time of 3:56.40, downing Ledecky’s Rio mark of 3:56.46 while eclipsing her previous best of 3:56.69, set when she beat Ledecky head-to-head at the Tokyo Olympics Games.

Milak lowered his own mark in the men’s 200 fly, winning the world title in front of his home crowd in a time of 1:50.34 to erase his previous record of 1:50.73 set at the 2019 World Championships.

That swim in 2019 shockingly crushed Michael Phelps‘ decade-old world record of 1:51.51, and Milak had been disappointed by failing to take down his own record at the Tokyo Games. He changed coaches and dealt with multiple illnesses in the time between the Olympics and World Championships, but still managed to deliver a world record when it was all on the line, making him the fastest man in history by 1.17 seconds. He even said after that swim that he now has his eyes on 1:49.

Note: Milak’s swim was initially missing when the poll was first released—if you were someone who wanted to vote Milak but didn’t have the option, sound off in the comments below.

Thomas Ceccon bulldozed his way past the world record in the men’s 100 backstroke, knocking a quarter of a second off of Ryan Murphy‘s 2016 mark of 51.85 in 51.60, earning just under six percent of votes.

Hunter Armstrong‘s 50 back and the Aussie women’s 800 free relay rounded out the poll. At the U.S. International Team Trials, Armstrong broke Kliment Kolesnikov record of 23.80 in a time of 23.71, while the Australians took down China’s mark of 7:40.33 from Tokyo 2020 in 7:39.29 at the Commonwealth Games.

Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Poll, which asks: Will Summer McIntosh break a LCM world record in 2023? (And if so, what event?)

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A3 Performance is an independently-owned, performance swimwear company built on a passion for swimming, athletes, and athletic performance. We encourage swimmers to swim better and faster at all ages and levels, from beginners to Olympians.  Driven by a genuine leader and devoted staff that are passionate about swimming and service, A3 Performance strives to inspire and enrich the sport of swimming with innovative and impactful products that motivate swimmers to be their very best – an A3 Performer.

The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner.

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