Noe Ponti delivered a standout performance as he set a European 100m butterfly record of 48.47 on the second night of finals in Otopeni.
Estonian 16-year-old Eneli Jefimova claimed an emotional 100m breaststroke title in the same pool where she won the treble at the 2022 European Junior Championships.
Great Britain lead the medal table after day two of the European Short-Course Championships with two golds, two silvers and two bronze medals.
France are second with two golds among four medals and Sweden third with two titles.
REDEMPTION FOR RECORD-BREAKING PONTI
Ponti served notice of his intentions in Tuesday’s semifinals when he posted a Championship record of 48.61.
The Olympic silver medallist was third at halfway before moving into the lead by the 75m mark and a final 25 of 13.03secs propelled him into the wall in a new European mark and Championship record.
With that he sliced 0.01secs off the previous continental mark of 48.48 which had stood to Evgeny Korotsyshkin since the supersuit era in November 2009.
Ponti said: “I’m speechless, what a race, what a time… I just wanted to win the race, that was the goal and I achieved that.
“It went according to plan, I didn’t want to watch the others, I focused only on myself and it worked like this.
“To break the European record is an extra, I didn’t expect that, it’s just great.”
The 22-year-old was seventh at the 2023 World Championships in Japan where Maxime Grousset – second in Otopeni – claimed the title.
Ponti said in a poolside interview: “It’s been redemption for me. Fukuoka didn’t go well for me.”
Grousset took silver in 49.00, 0.06 outside his French record of 48.94 from the semifinals.
He said: “I made a big shot over the last 25m, tried everything but my friend Noe was too fast today.”
Britain’s Jacob Peters claimed his first individual medal in international waters with bronze in 49.98.
“I’m happy, it’s a medal and a PB,” he said. We saw the opportunity, but we knew it was going to be hard.
“Obviously, I didn’t expect to catch Noe (Ponti) or Maxime (Grousset) but hoped for the third place and I managed to get it.”
JEFIMOVA CELEBRATES HISTORIC GOLD
Benedetta Pilato was out under world-record pace in the women’s 100m breaststroke and led Jefimova by 0.64 at the final turn.
However, the six-time European Junior champion came past the Italian with a 16.70secs final 25 as she lowered her Estonian record to 1:03.21.
With victory she upgraded her silver medal from Kazan 2021 and was holding back tears after leaving poolside.
“Sorry, emotions are taking over… I’m overjoyed,” she said. “This is the first-ever European gold medal for Estonia.
“I’m so grateful for everyone, for my family, my coaches, team-mates. I won gold medals here last year at the juniors, but this is different. A dream came true.”
Pilato – the European long-course champion – stopped the clock in 1:03.76 for her first short-course medal over 100m, a week after she qualified for her second Olympics at the Italian Winter Championships.
Tes Schouten won her first European short-course medal with third in 1:04.04.
COLEMAN CLAIMS SECOND GOLD
Michelle Coleman won her second gold medal after leading from start to finish to claim the 50m freestyle in 23.52.
That followed her title with the Swedish women’s 4x50m freestyle on the opening night in Otopeni.
It was the first individual title of Coleman’s career which has spanned World and European medals in the long and short-course pools.
She said: “You know, this such a great feeling to claim an individual gold medal finally.
“There were moments when this could have happened, but I couldn’t make it.
“Now I did and it’s great as I’m approaching the end of my career.
“I’m 30 years old, not much left for me in swimming.
“Still, I could show that I’m able to win a title at a European Championships and this makes me really happy.”
Frenchwoman Beryl Gastaldello was second in 23.71 with Julie Kepp Jensen third for her first international medal in 23.89.
DOMINANT KIRPICHNIKOVA DEFENDS 800 FREE TITLE
Anastasia Kirpichnikova led from start to finish as she won the 800m freestyle by 6.45 seconds.
It was a second straight title for the 23-year-old who attained French citizenship in April 2023 after previously representing Russia.
She said: “I’ve come from the open water World Cup in Portugal, after swimming 10km, and I thought this would be harder, especially mentally.
“This is not my best time but for me the win was the most important and I’m happy that I could take it. I think I will drop open water in the future and will focus on pool swimming.”
Simona Quadarella repeated her silver from Kazan 2021 in 8:14.83, the Italian having now reached the 800 free podium at four straight European Short-Course Championships.
Ajna Kesely won bronze in 8:18.73.
TOMAC MAKES MAIDEN TRIP TO THE PODIUM
Mewen Tomac won his first senior medal with gold in the 50m backstroke in 22.84 in the first men’s final of the evening.
The Frenchman said: “It is really great to get the title, it was a good race and I think gave all here today.
“Proud to win the first gold here for the French team.”
Ole Braunschweig of Germany came from fifth at halfway to take second in 23.00 with Italian Lorenzo Mora and Switzerland’s Thierry Bollin sharing the third step of the podium in 23.10.
ITALY DOMINATE FOR RELAY GOLD
Mora returned to lead off the Italian quartet in the 4x50m medley relay in 22.98 with Nicolo Martinenghi (25.32), Thomas Ceccon (22.05) and Lorenzo Zazzeri (20.47) ensuring the world champions retained their European title in 1:30.78.
Martinenghi said: “It’s amazing to back on the top of the podium, also after last year’s World Championships.
“This was another great performance from the team, I mean, we have really good guys in each stroke so this team is very much on the right path to achieve big things in the future.”
SEMIS BRING PROMISE OF THRILLING FINALS
Ben Proud led five men inside 21secs in the men’s 50 free, booking lane four in 20.66.
Arno Kamminga headed the 100m breaststroke where he will once more meet Martinenghi with whom he’s shared Olympic, world and European podiums.
Medi Harris topped the women’s 200 backstroke semis in 2:02.58, Angelina Kohler leads the way in the 200 fly in 2:05.02 and Charlotte Bonnet looked ominous in the 100IM in 57.95.
You can follow all of the latest news and videos from Otopeni 2023 via the European Aquatics website and social media channels, with LIVE STREAMS available via All Aquatics.