Otopeni 2023: Ben Proud roars to European 50m freestyle record of 20.18

Ben Proud became the second-fastest man in history when he set a European short-course 50m freestyle record of 20.18 seconds in Otopeni. The Briton was just 0.02secs outside Caeleb Dressel’s 20.16 world record as he took 0.08secs from the European standard of 20.26 held by Florent Manaudou since December 2014. It was the second European record of the meet so far following Noe Ponti’s 48.47 in the 100m butterfly on Wednesday. Great Britain lead the medal table after day three with four golds, three silvers and three bronze medals ahead of France (three golds, five silvers, one bronze) and Sweden (three golds and a bronze). RIVALS PAY TRIBUTE AFTER PROUD BLAST Proud arrived in Otopeni without a European short-course gold to his name having won 50 free silver and 50m butterfly bronze at Copenhagen 2017. He led off the British quartet that won the 4x50m freestyle title and the 29-year-old looked ominous through the rounds. In the final he split 9.64/10.54 while also lowering Vladimir Morozov’s Championship record of 20.31 set in 2017. Proud, who is guided by James Gibson, has now won World and European long and short-course titles as well as Commonwealth gold. The only medal missing from his extensive collection is an Olympic one. He is the second British man to have won the 50 free short-course title with Mark Foster victorious on six occasions. Proud said: “It was beyond my expectations. I wanted to do a PB, going beyond is great. “I just loved the process leading here, the mindset, what I’m learning about myself. “And to get a title in this tough competition is feeling great.” Manaudou and defending champion Szebasztian Szabo shared silver in 20.74. The Frenchman – who also won silver at Glasgow 2019 – said: “I’m super-happy with this silver as based on my performance in the heats and the semis I didn’t expect anything like this, I just wanted to enjoy the final.” The 2012 Olympic champion paid tribute to Proud, saying: “I knew Ben would be really fast, though not that fast, I thought he would make 20.3, 20.4, congrats for this amazing record. “For me, it’s a great feeling to add another medal to my collection and to stand on the podium with these guys.” Szabo echoed Manaudou’s sentiments, saying: “We’ve been training together with Ben (Proud) recently and I can tell you there wasn’t such a gap that time – so he was really fast today and he clocked an astonishing record, credit to him. “ I’m more than happy with this silver, I’d say I’m on the right track after the disappointment in Fukuoka (2023 World Championships). “The first 25m was better in the semis, now the second 25m was great, but this is the dash, you really need to put it together in short-course. More or less, it was OK after all.” WIFFEN GOES THIRD ALL-TIME IN 1500 FREE Daniel Wiffen delivered a masterclass in distance swimming in the 1500 free and was 1.18secs inside Florian Wellbrock’s world record at halfway before it slipped away from 900m. However, the Irishman completely dominated the race and enjoyed a winning margin of 12.67secs when he got his hand to the wall in 14 minutes 09.11 seconds. That elevated him to third all-time behind Wellbrock and his world record of 14:06.88 and Gregorio Paltrinieri’s 14:08.06 from the 2015 European short-course. It was his second gold in as many races with the 800m to come in which he is the European record-holder in both the long and short-course titles. Wiffen – the first Irish swimmer to win European short-course titles – said: “I’m very happy, this was a fast time, I’ve taken five seconds off my PB. “I swam my own race, I didn’t think of the world record, I hoped it was going to be close at the end. “Anyway I’m happy with the time, third-fastest ever which is pretty cool.” David Aubry and Mykhailo Romanchuk finished in 14:21.78 and 14:22.18 respectively for silver and bronze. KOHLER JOY AFTER MAIDEN VICTORY Angelina Kohler led throughout to win the women’s 200m butterfly in 2:03.30 to claim Germany’s first gold of the meet and second overall. It was Kohler’s first senior international medal and she could scarcely absorb her achievement. “This is incredible, this is three seconds better than my best time before the championship,” she beamed. “I cut 1.5 in the semis, another 1.5 this time… Amazing, the win, the time, my first international medal, a gold – it’s unbelievable!” Helena Rosendahl Bach of Denmark took silver in 2:03.86 with Lana Pudar setting a European Junior record of 2:04.55 for bronze. HARRIS LEADS HOME BRITISH 1-2 Medi Harris is best known as a 100m backstroker having claimed European and Commonwealth medals to her name. Before Wednesday she had never raced the 200m backstroke in international waters. Now though, she is the European champion having led throughout to touch in a Welsh record of 2:02.45. Teammate Katie Shanahan took silver in 2:03.22 to make it a British 1-2 with Pauline Mahieu third in 2:03.90. Harris – who is coached by Dave Hemmings at Loughborough Performance Centre after switching from Swansea – said: “This was really good. “I’m doing this event for the first time in three years and I’m really grateful for my coach for pushing me today, I’ve couldn’t have achieved this performance without him. “Obviously, we are focusing on times but at the moment, especially going into an Olympic year, it’s also about gaining confidence. “If you’d told me a year ago that I would be here swimming the 200m back like this, I wouldn’t have believed you. So it was a great push before next year.” KAMMINGA HAPPY TO BE BACK ON TOP Arno Kamminga won the first individual titles of his career at Glasgow 2019 where he claimed the 100/200m breaststroke double. Since then, the Netherlands swimmer has won medals in the Olympic, world and European pools, both long and short-course. The Netherlands swimmer was sixth

Otopeni 2023: Noe Ponti flies into the European record books

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

Otopeni 2023: Double gold for Britain whilst Irish star Daniel Wiffen makes history

Great Britain won two gold medals and Daniel Wiffen became the first Irish swimmer to claim a European short-course title on a thrilling first night of finals in Otopeni, Romania. Abbie Wood opened a golden night for Britain in the women’s 400m individual medley with the men’s quartet winning the 4x50m freestyle relay for the first time. Wiffen dismantled the field in the men’s 400m freestyle with Sweden enjoying a clear victory in the women’s 4x50m freestyle relay. Noe Ponti set a Championship record of 48.61 in the men’s 100m butterfly semifinal, lowering Evgeny Korotyshkin’s standard of 48.93 which had stood since 2009. HISTORIC ONE-TWO FOR BRITAIN The action got under way at the Aquatics Complex of Otopeni with the women’s 400m individual medley final. Freya Colbert and Wood were in the centre lanes and they were first and third respectively at halfway with Zsuzsanna Jakabos of Hungary splitting the British pair.   Wood pulled well clear on the breaststroke leg and came home in four minutes 27.45 seconds for her first senior international individual title. She also became only the second British woman and the first since Hannah Miley in 2012 to win 400IM gold. Colbert made it a British one-two in 4:29.04 with Ellen Walshe of Ireland third in 4:29.64. Wood said: “I’m really happy with this gold. I really had to hold my nerve over the first 200 because I start going from the backstroke and we have five strong backstrokers here. “I’m happy that I’ve managed to pull it off and I was near to my best so I’m really happy.” Loughborough training partner Colbert added: “It was good, I really enjoy racing with the girls I train with from time to time. “We are pushing each other and it’s also interesting to know exactly what the others are doing.” Walshe – who won silver at the 2021 World Short Course Championships – said: “It’s a great success for Ireland, the first medal of many here we’re hoping for. “I don’t win international medals every day so this one is definitely up there with the world short-course medal. It would have been better to swim the time I did two years ago but I’m in hard training now to get ready for Paris.” RELAY GOLD IN RECORD TIME Britain set a national record of 1:23.81 in the 4×50 freestyle prelims and changed the line-up for the final with Ben Proud replacing Duncan Scott. Proud – winner of the world, Commonwealth and European 50m freestyle titles in 2022 – led off in 20.56 to hand over to Matt Richards with Britain ahead. Richards split 20.50 and Alexander Cohoon went 20.99 before Lewis Burras anchored them home in the fastest split in the field of 20.47 as they set their second British record of the day in 1:22.52. It was the first gold in the event for Britain with Proud saying: “Britain has never really been a sprinting nation, we’ve struggled to put four 50m guys together. “But in recent years a couple of good guys came up, all of a sudden, so today’s effort was incredible from the team. “That was good not just for this competition and for the 4x50m but also for these guys who are going for the qualification in the 4x100m at the Olympics. “We are happy and I’m sure the guys are also happy with themselves. It’s new for us to be here and competing with the Italians who have always been good in this event. As for the team, it’s a great start for this meet.” Italy were second in 1:23.14 with Greece claiming their first relay medal at the European Short Course Championships in 1:23.27. WIFFEN WRITES A LINE IN THE HISTORY BOOKS The men’s 400m freestyle promised to be a thriller with Danys Rapsys looking to reclaim the title he won at Glasgow 2019. The Lithuanian led after 100m before Wiffen moved into first at the 150m mark, extending his lead to a body-length by 250m. The Irish swimmer came home in a three-second personal best and national record of 3:35.47, 2.33secs ahead of Rapsys (3:37.80) and Belgium’s Lucas Henveaux. Wiffen – who will also compete in the 800m and 1500m freestyle – said: “The 400m is usually not on my schedule so to win it is amazing and a good sign what can happen in my other events. “The race went according to plan. I geared up for the second half as I’m a distance swimmer, so this is the approach I take in my main events and this one wasn’t different either.” Rapsys – who came from fourth at the final turn to take silver – added: “It’s good to be second though my time could have been a bit better.” Henveaux – who trains with Wiffen at Loughborough – said: “I saw my teammate Dan really go for it from the beginning and I thought I might have a bad race here but with 25m to go I recognised that we are pretty much in the same line with the others. “So, I really went for it, put my head down and went for the touch. “I was lucky enough to finish third by one-tenth of a second. I’m happy with my time and it’s great to stand on the podium together with these guys.” GOLD FOR SWEDEN Denmark led after the first 50 with fastest qualifiers Britain second and Sweden third. A second leg of 23.29 by Michelle Coleman propelled the Swedes into first with Louise Hansson (23.95) and Sofia Aastedt (24.05) guiding them to a comprehensive victory in 1:35.60. Coleman said: “I’m just really happy how we went out and raced really fast. Each of us did a really good individual leg. “That’s what relays are all about, you go and do your part and that builds together to get a good result.” Italy moved from fifth at the final changeover to second in 1:36.92 thanks to a 24.12 anchor leg by world and

Otopeni 2023: David Popovici “honoured” to swim in front of home fans after life-changing 2022

David Popovici says racing in front of a home crowd at the European Short Course Championships will be “an honour” with the six-day meet starting on Tuesday in Otopeni, Romania. Popovici was speaking at a press conference on the eve of the championships alongside Romania teammate Vlad Stancu, three-time European short course champion Andreas Vazaios and Sophie Hansson of Sweden, winner of five World short course medals. The 19-year-old will return to the same Aquatics Complex of Otopeni where he won four golds and one silver medal at the 2022 European Junior Championships. The European 100m and 200m freestyle champion was thrilled by the prospect of racing top-class opposition in front of the home fans at the meet which runs from 5-10 December. He said: “It is the first time that any major championships will have been held in Romania, and it will be an honour to be able to race so many world-class swimmers in front of a home crowd. “I believe some of the sessions are completely sold out, and I can’t wait to race in front of all the local swimming fans.   “I am looking forward to signing autographs and taking photographs with them, when I have time.” LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCES OF 2022 Popovici was just 17 when he became only the second man to win the 100/200 free double at the World Championships when he achieved that feat at Budapest 2022. He replicated that success at the European Championships in Rome weeks later while writing his own line in the history books as he set a World record of 46.86 in the 100 free. Popovici also elevated himself to third all-time in the 200 in 1:42.97, a time eclipsed by only Paul Biedermann and Michael Phelps. He admits that it was a life-changing experience, saying: “The expectations of others on me are greater, and the expectations of myself have also increased.   “With this comes increased pressure.  Pressure is a privilege, I am learning to embrace the additional pressure.”  He added: “But you know, the challenges that I have faced this year are to learn to drive a car, to finish my final high school exams, and to start university. “I have really enjoyed taking on these challenges.  Enjoying your life remains the most important thing.” “I have not taken myself too seriously, as that can become too stressful, and become too much [to handle].   “I’ve learned to be more honest, more sincere, to speak my mind when I have something valuable to say, and equally to say nothing when not.” RECORDS, TITLES AND PARIS 2024 Vazaios is seeking his third straight 200IM title after victories at Kazan 2021 and Glasgow 2019 where he set a European record of 1:50.85 that stands today. The Greek, who is entered into the 100 and 200IM plus relays, will also use Otopeni as his final preparation for his bid for Olympic qualification in the week following the European Short Course Championships. He said: “This will be my first international race of this Olympic year. “There will be a lot of opportunities to swim fast before Paris 2024, but this will be an important test to see where I am at.” He added: “The pool is very fast, I love it.  I love short course swimming too as it is so quick.”   “It’s really nice that the water is not so cold. Race temperature is normally very cold so it’s actually a pleasure to swim in this pool.  I love it.” “I want to enjoy this experience, I am really enjoying my swimming at the moment.” INSPIRING CHILDREN TO SWIM LIKE POPOVICI Otopeni 2023 Organising Committee President Camélia Potec has been working with the Romanian government on a programme to build new pools across the country with 40 opened in the last six years. Her dream is for Romanian children to ask their parents to take them to learn to swim like Popovici. She added: “We are very proud to host these championships in Romania, and in such a world class venue. “Happy, honoured, really a dream come true.” You will be able to 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.

Otopeni 2023: Five to watch at the European Short Course Championships

With the 22nd European Short Course Championships beginning on 5 December we’ve selected five of the key ‘swimmers-to-watch’ who are set to command the spotlight in Otopeni during the six-day event. DAVID POPOVICI David Popovici returns to the Otopeni pool in which he won four golds at the 2022 European Junior Championships. Aged 17, the Romanian was only the second man to win the 100/200 free double at a senior World Championships when he achieved that feat at Budapest 2022. Weeks later he repeated that at the European Championships in Rome while lowering the 100m freestyle world record to 46.86, taking 0.05 from the previous mark of 46.91 held by Cesar Cielo since 2009. Now 19, Popovici will compete in the 100 and 200m freestyle and in an interview with European Aquatics says he arrives in Otopeni with “big aspirations.” BENEDETTA PILATO Benedetta Pilato won her first senior medals in 2019 aged 14, claiming 50m breaststroke at the World Championships in Gwangju before going on to take gold at Glasgow 2019 in December of that year as well as 4x50m medley relay silver. The Italian won 50m bronze at the 2023 worlds while not entering the 100m and arrives in Otopeni after qualifying for the 2024 Olympics at the Italian Winter Championships. Pilato will compete in the 50 and 100m breaststroke plus the women’s and mixed 4x50m medley relays. MATT RICHARDS Matt Richards won his maiden World title in Fukuoka in July when he led home Olympic champion Tom Dean in the 200m freestyle for a historic British one-two. The pair then joined forces with James Guy and Duncan Scott, the Tokyo silver medallist in the individual event behind Dean, as they added 4x200m freestyle relay gold to their Olympic crown. The Welshman told European Aquatics he was relishing the prospect of locking horns once more with David Popovici and will compete in the 50, 100 and 200 free. LANA PUDAR Lana Pudar made history when she became the first Bosnia and Herzegovina swimmer to win a European long course title with victory in the 200m butterfly at Roma 2022. The 17-year-old is now aiming to claim her nation’s first-ever Olympic medal, in any sport, at Paris 2024. Before then Pudar will compete in the 100m and 200m butterfly in Otopeni to conclude a year in which she has won five titles across the World and European Junior Championships. She also finished fourth in the 200m butterfly at the World Championships in Fukuoka to continue her fine transition into senior waters. THOMAS CECCON Thomas Ceccon arrives in Otopeni having just qualified for his second Olympics at the Italian Winter Championships. The 22-year-old holds the 100m backstroke world record of 51.60 in the long-course pool set en-route to gold at the 2022 World Championships. A multiple world and European medallist in both short and long-course, Ceccon will have a busy programme in Otopeni having entered the 100m backstroke, 50 and 100 butterfly and 100 and 200IM. You will be able to 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.

Otopeni 2023: Five storylines at the European Short Course Championships

From high-profile Olympic and World champions to emerging junior talents, the European Short Course Championships will unite established, as well as rising, swimming stars. Here are five storylines to look out for ahead of the action in Otopeni, which runs from 5-10 December in Romania. MEN’S 200m FREESTYLE The eight-length event is set to be one of the highlights of the meet. David Popovici will have the full force of the home crowd behind him with the Romanian the reigning European long-course champion and 2022 world gold medallist. The 19-year-old won the title at Kazan 2021 and claimed silver at last year’s World Short-Course Championships. He faces fearsome opposition from British duo Tom Dean and Matt Richards, the Olympic and World long-course champions respectively who are joined by James Guy with whom they won the 4x200m relay at the Tokyo Games. Danys Rapsys seeks his third title in the event after victories in 2017 and 2019 while French hopes rest with six-time world (50m) medallist Maxime Grousset – winner of five golds and a silver at the French Short Course Championships – and Roman Fuchs. 18 YEARS AND COUNTING FOR ZSUZSANNA JAKABOS The Hungarian paid her first visit to a senior international podium at the 2005 European Short Course Championships in Trieste, Italy. Then aged 16, Jakabos won bronze in the 400m individual medley and in the subsequent 18 years, she has won a further 10 European short course medals including golds in the 200m butterfly and 400IM at Eindhoven 2010. Now 34, Jakabos will compete in the 400IM and 200 fly in Otopeni, four years after silver and bronze in Glasgow. ARNO KAMMINGA AND NICOLO MARTINENGHI MEET AGAIN Breaststroke duo Arno Kamminga and Nicolo Martinenghi have shared Olympic, World and European podiums. Kamminga, of the Netherlands, won 100m breaststroke silver at the Tokyo Olympics; one place ahead of Martinenghi who then claimed the world title the following year in Budapest with Kamminga second. The pair could not be separated in the 100m breaststroke at the 2023 World Championships when they shared an historic three-way tie for silver with USA’s Nic Fink, behind winner Qin Haiyang of China, in Fukuoka. Kamminga told European Aquatics last month: “I have a lot of respect for my competitors because they do a lot of respect for my competitors because they do a lot of things really good because otherwise they wouldn’t be at this level. “So, with Nicolo, it’s why I like him so much because I see him doing so many good things. “He’s also a really great guy and obviously when we stand on the blocks it’s game on and there’s maybe no friendship at all but the moment we touch it changes that.” The pair will meet over 100m two years after Martinenghi won gold and Kamminga the bronze as well as the 200m with the Italian also contesting the 50m. THE WIFFEN TWINS Irish twins Daniel and Nathan Wiffen are competing on a senior international team together for the first time with the latter making his debut. It will be Daniel’s second European Short Course Championships following his bow at Glasgow 2019 since when he has gone on to rewrite the Irish and European record books. After winning silver in the 1500m freestyle at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, he lowered Gregorio Paltrinieri’s European 800m freestyle record in the short-course pool to 7:25.96. Daniel then added the long-course mark in 7:39.19 en-route to fourth at the World Championships in Fukuoka. In an interview with European Aquatics, Daniel also stated he has his sights on Grant Hackett’s world record of 7:23.42 which has stood since 2008. The twins will compete in the 400, 800 and 1500m freestyle. WOMEN’S 100M BREASTSTROKE This is set to be a fiercely-contested event with women who will expect to be challenging in the long-course pool at Paris 2024. Benedetta Pilato won her first senior medals in 2019 aged 14, claiming 50m breaststroke at the World Championships in Fukuoka before going on to take gold at Glasgow 2019 in December of that year as well as 4x50m medley relay silver. The Italian won 50m bronze at the 2023 worlds while not entering the 100m and arrives in Otopeni after qualifying for the 2024 Olympics at the Italian Winter Championships. She’ll be joined in the four-length event by teammate Martina Carraro, who won gold in the 100m breaststroke four years ago and silver behind Pilato in the 50 as well as bronze in the 200. Tes Schouten won 100 silver and 200 bronze at the 2022 World Short Course Championships in Melbourne, Australia, before claiming bronze in the longer race in Fukuoka in July. Eneli Jefimova won silver in the 100m breaststroke at Kazan 2021 aged 14 and this year left the World Juniors with a medal of each colour including 50m gold. The 2017 European Short Course Championships represented a breakthrough for Sophie Hansson with 4×50 medley relay gold and bronze in the 50m breaststroke. Four years later, the Swede won 100m silver among a five-medal haul at the 2021 World Short Course Championships in Abu Dhabi. You will be able to 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.

Otopeni 2023: Five things to know about the European Short Course Championships

As Romania prepares to host Olympic and world champions from across Europe, here are five things to know before the action starts in Otopeni on 5 December. EUROPEAN SHORT COURSE CHAMPIONSHIPS TURN 22 This year’s edition will mark the 22nd year of the European Short Course Championships as we know it. The inaugural Championships were held in 1996 and replaced the European Sprint Swimming Championships which ran from 1991 to 1994. Alexander Popov, widely regarded as one of the sprinting greats, was among the first winners of the event. He took home gold in the 50m freestyle in 1991, less than eight months before he would go on to become double Olympic champion in Barcelona. FIRST FOR ROMANIA The Aquatics Complex of Otopeni will play host to the event for the first time having successfully staged the European Junior Swimming Championships in 2022. The venue, which is located 10km outside the Romanian capital Bucharest, opened in 2021 and consists of six swimming pools with seating for just under 3,000 people. President of the Otopeni 2023 Organising Committee, Camélia Potec, said: “It is the first time that this top competition will be held in Romania, and we are proud to open our doors and to showcase the facilities, accommodations and experiences that will make it truly unforgettable for all involved.” POPOVICI LEADS HOME CHARGE International stars from across Europe will descend on Otopeni, including home favourite, David Popovici. At 19, he has already claimed four titles in the World and European long-course pools and is the 100m freestyle world record holder with a time of 46.86. Popovici won 200m freestyle gold at the 2021 edition in Kazan, Russia, and silver at the 2022 World Short Course Championships in Melbourne, Australia. He recently confirmed to local press that he is using this as a key meet ahead of Paris 2024 having narrowly missed out on a podium spot at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. GAME-CHANGING MIXED RELAYS ADDED IN 2012 One of the most significant changes to the programme came at Chartres 2012 with the introduction of mixed relays. The decision to include them came in the same year that mixed relays were first introduced to the World Cup series by FINA [now World Aquatics], which was described as an effort to ‘develop swimming further’. Hailed as being “100 per cent one of the most exciting races in swimming” by double Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington, mixed relays began growing in popularity around this time. Hosts France won the inaugural mixed relays in Chartres 11 years ago with Florent Manaudou – fresh from winning the 50 free at the London Olympics – a member of both victorious mixed squads in the 4x50m freestyle and 4x50m medley. The 33-year-old – who won five golds at Chartres 2012 – will compete in Otopeni. Today, they are some of the most highly-anticipated events on the programme and in 2021, saw the Netherlands topping the podium in both disciplines. LIBERTY, JUSTICE, FRATERNITY The logo for the championships, which is unique to each individual event, is a symbol of ‘liberty, justice, and fraternity’. Created jointly by European Aquatics and the Romanian Aquatics Federation – organisers of the event – the blue, yellow, and red design speaks to the significance of the event and its positive impact on the host nation. Camélia Potec explained that the logo was inspired by national identity and the values Romania stands for. “The blue represents liberty, the centre band is yellow in colour and symbolises justice, while the red is the final band and represents fraternity of the nation,” she said. “For Romanian swimmers that will be present at the Championships, as well as for the Romanian public, 2023 Otopeni Short Course Swimming Championships logo speaks about the power of the team, fair play, excellence, respect and friendship all wrapped up in the symbolic splashes that the event will produce.” The medals and mascot also showcase national identity with the latter a turtle that bears the logo on its shell. Potec added: “We chose the turtle because it is a water animal. We have some species that live in the Danube Delta, a national biosphere reserve and national park in Romania which is classified as a UNESCO Heritage Site. “The colours of the elements of the shell are the blue, yellow and red of the Romanian flag.” You will be able to 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.

Otopeni 2023: Yohann Ndoye Brouard recalls Glasgow debut with Marchand and Manaudou

When Yohann Ndoye Brouard made his senior international bow at the 2019 European Short Course Championships, he was joined on the French team by fellow newcomers that were destined to shine and a returning Olympic champion. Since then, Ndoye Brouard has claimed four European long-course medals, including 200m backstroke gold at Roma 2022. Among his teammates in Glasgow was fellow debutant Leon Marchand, who has gone on to win five world titles and at the Fukuoka World Championships in July set a 400m individual medley world record, eclipsing Michael Phelps’ mark that had stood since Beijing 2008. Florent Manaudou made his return to championship racing in Glasgow after time away from the water following his 50m free silver in Rio 2016, four years after gold in London. Casting his mind back, Ndoye Brouard told European Aquatics: “We were with (six-time world medallist) Maxime Grousset too, who had already gone to Gwangju (for the 2019 World Championships). “So we had some young guys who were building some strength of the team and we had older people like Florent Manaudou, Melanie Henique and Charlotte Bonnet who are like the base of the pyramid. “It’s like a growth of four years of guys who want to be the best of the Olympics, so we are pushing ourselves together to climb that pyramid.” Also present was Jeremy Stravius, who shared top spot on the 100m backstroke podium with fellow Frenchman Camille Lacourt at the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai. “It was great,” added Ndoye Brouard. “I recall talking with Jeremy at the restaurant and it was very cool to meet some of those guys. “I remember it was the comeback for Florent Manaudou and I was his fan because I remember seeing him winning at the Olympics, and then I make a French team with him. It was great to meet those people and talk with them about swimming and competition.” Elbow Surgery And ‘Alien’ Marchand In Otopeni, Ndoye Brouard will conclude a year that began with him having undergone surgery on his right elbow after he fractured it in a fall while skiing in the French Alps two days after Christmas 2022. He said: “I fell on my wrist and on my head too, so I was a bit KO. I didn’t realise that I broke my arm, I stood up and I looked at my body and I was like ‘oh, it’s okay’. “And then I fell again – I passed out – and then I knew it was something wrong, so I took off my jacket and saw my elbow was at a different angle.” It required 18 stitches although he was optimistic of making a full recovery just as he did in 2019 after breaking his wrist. Instead, the 23-year-old concentrated on land training, and Ndoye Brouard found it tough on his return to racing at the Canet stop of the Mare Nostrum in May. Not only had he lost some cardio, he also didn’t have full mobility in his elbow and was unable to fully extend his arm. He resolved to have the nine metal screws that were inserted following the accident removed after the World Championships. Before then he travelled to Fukuoka and looked on as Marchand took 1.34secs off Phelps 400IM world record, lowering it to 4:02.50. Ndoye Brouard said: “It was unbelievable. I was with my teammates at the hotel and we were seeing his race on the TV and we were crazy. He is something else – like he is an alien. “It was very motivational to swim after this world record because he is like us, he is a human like us, and everything is possible.” Mixed feelings at worlds before looking to Otopeni After finishing fifth in the 100m backstroke in Fukuoka in 52.84, Ndoye Brouard then led off the French men’s medley relay that finished fourth, 0.26 off third place. He said: “I was a bit disappointed at first with the 100 back because with my 52.50 of Budapest (2022 World Championships) I would have stood on the podium. “But I didn’t train so much, so it was okay, and then I realised I had something to do at the Olympics because if I am fifth with an arm broken and some metal in my elbow, I think I can swim much faster.” Ndoye Brouard will race the 100m and 200m backstroke in Otopeni before turning his focus to a home Games at Paris 2024. He said: “It is important for us to race against those great guys in Europe, and I think it’s a good thing before Olympics to have a big championship.” You will be able to 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.

Otopeni 2023: Wiffen twins targeting medals, finals and records in Romania

A trilogy of gold medals, European finals and a world record are amongst the goals that twins Daniel and Nathan Wiffen have heading into the European Short Course Championships. The pair will travel to Otopeni on a high following some recent strong performances at the British University and College Sport Swimming championships (BUCS). There, they took home gold and silver in the men’s 1500m freestyle, with Daniel posting the number one fastest time in the world this year (14:20.75). A dominant display from the elder twin Daniel in both the 400m and 800m freestyle also earned him the world’s highest-ranked times in those events. “To be honest, I was quite surprised,” Daniel told European Aquatics. “I am the European record holder in the 800 so I do expect to be there – number one in the world – but the 400 was kind of a shock.” “I’d like to be able to repeat the number one times [in Otopeni] and go for three golds maybe, you never know.” With plans to defend his European record (7:25.96) in the 800m freestyle, Daniel will also be chasing something bigger at this meet.  “To be honest, I think the world record isn’t too far away either; I’m 1.8 seconds off it in the 800. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’ll have that in the sights.” The current 800m freestyle (SC) world record of 7:23.42 was posted in 2008 by Australia’s Grant Hackett and is the longest-standing individual men’s world record. FIRST FOR IRELAND The 22-year-old brothers are well accustomed to racing side by side, although this event marks the first time they will compete on an Irish international team together. For Nathan, it also signifies his first international senior team call-up. “I want to start my international experience off with a final in the 800 or 1500m free, that’s what I want to do,” said Nathan. “If we’re both in a final, we’ll be one quarter of that final so that makes it easier for us because we know how each other train and we know each other’s race strategies,” added Daniel. ‘NO-ONE TRAINS HARDER THAN US’ The Loughborough-based swimmers credit their programme, attitude to training and emphasis on racing as the key ingredients to their success. “I’m going to put it out there: I don’t think anyone trains harder than me in the world. And I don’t think anyone trains harder than Nathan either,” said Daniel. “I’d say I was pretty average before I joined Loughborough,” he added. “My first year I made the Olympics and then every year have stepped it up. I think it’s mainly because the size of the distance group that we have, it’s probably one of the biggest in the world and we’ve got some of the best athletes in the world.” The brothers will be part of a 17-strong Irish team heading to the event. Having made his European short course debut at Glasgow in 2019, Daniel said: “This will be my second European Short Course Championships and it will hopefully be a lot more fun for me because I’ll be contending for medals.” “It’s quite a big venue so I’m going to embrace the crowd and look forward to it,” concurred Nathan. LOOKING AHEAD With Daniel’s Olympic qualification time already secured, Nathan is targeting next year’s Irish Olympic Trials as his chance to do the same. “I definitely want to get the Olympic time,” said Nathan. “I have to get it in the May trials and I want to get two. The 1500m freestyle will probably be a lot harder but I think it’s a good challenge,” he added. You will be able to 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.

Otopeni 2023: “Ukraine needs us now” – Mykhailo Romanchuk on returning to his war-torn nation

By Nick HopeAquatics correspondent When Russian troops began their invasion in the early hours of 24 February 2022 the lives of Ukrainian citizens – including their athletes – changed forever. Mykhailo Romanchuk – one of the nation’s most decorated Olympians – admits he was left traumatised by what he witnessed unfold, much like many of his countrymen and women. He faced an “extremely difficult” and almost unique dilemma though, because unlike most men of his age, ‘elite athlete’ status granted the swimmer permission to leave the country and seek safety overseas. The then 25-year-old was offered refuge by his great rival – and friend – double Olympic champion Florian Wellbrock at his training base in Magdeburg, Germany. Romanchukwas grateful, but initially reluctant to accept, despite knowing it could be a potentially life-saving offer. “It was quite a hard decision because I had a lot of thoughts in my mind and one was that maybe it would be better to go to the army to defend the country,” he tells European Aquatics. “After a long discussion with my wife and my family we decided that okay, I’m not a warrior (like the soldiers in the field), but I am a warrior in the pool. “This is where I can say ‘yes, I’m Ukrainian and even in a harsh situation we Ukrainians are still able to compete at a high level’ and that is why I moved to Germany.” At this point nearly two weeks had passed since the war had begun and the Ukraine Romanchuk knew was already near unrecognisable from the land in which he grew up. Over the following months around six million Ukrainian citizens fled the country and a further eight million are believed to have been displaced within the nation since February 2022.  Tears after Ukrainian triumphs Despite the “heartbreak” he experienced after leaving family behind and knowing his father would be fighting Russian forces after being called up by the Ukrainian army, the swimmer was determined to ‘fight’ for his nation in the only way he knew how. Less than three months later he secured an astounding brace of bronze medals at the 2022 World Aquatics Championships in Budapest; the first an 800m success in the pool, before adding another third-place finish in the 5km open water event.  “No-one can really explain the feelings we have on the podium given what Ukrainians are all going through,” the two-time Olympic medallist admits. “People around us know how hard it is for us to get these medals and it’s an unbelievable feeling to be doing it for our country, but it’s also about the army. “They’re doing what they are without all of the weapons and still fighting one of the biggest armies in the world, so we’re incredibly proud of our country.” For this reason, Romanchuk was also “crying like a baby” when he watched his Ukrainian wife, long jumper Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk, claim World silver this summer. Seeking ‘home comforts’ – despite ongoing bomb threats His own global aquatic championships in Japan in July did not bring the same level of success of previous years, with the swimmer 11th in the 5km, followed by sixth (800m) and seventh (1500m) in the pool. Homesickness, Romanchuk admits, was beginning to have a major impact on his mental health and despite the “obvious dangers” he made the decision to return to Ukraine early in August. “Mentally it was hard for me to be outside of Ukraine,” says the five-time European champion. “I had not been there in one and a half years; I missed my parents and my home. “Now, being able to wake up and go to see my parents, lie on the grass in the backyard with the dog and enjoy time with my wife is so beautiful.” Sirens during swimming and missiles in the pool He knows the dangers are far from over though and receives almost daily reminders when training at his base in Dnipro, the Ukrainian national swimming centre. Barely two weeks after returning to the city he reported on social media the venue had been struck by a Russian “night missile” during a “drone attack.” It was a very real reminder of the threat he and others continue to face not only in the region, but across the country. “It’s really hard and really dangerous to be in Ukraine right now and there’s no ‘safe place’ really,” he tells European Aquatics. “When there is an air alarm (siren) you have to quickly get out of the water and go to the bunker or the shelter, so it’s really difficult to get consistent training or practice in.” Romanchuk and several other swimmers donated money to help repair the pool after the missile damage, but renovation work is slow and while still useable, the cold weather is making training in the Olympic facility challenging. Despite that, the swimmer remains in Ukraine as he is adamant his presence will send a message to other athletes from his homeland. “The young people need to recover Ukraine,” he tells European Aquatics. “I know my father is back home and out of the army now, but the stories he tells us about the fighting is terrible. “That’s why I came back to Ukraine, to show the other Ukrainian athletes, to show the other young Ukrainian guys who moved to the other countries, that Ukraine need us now.” ‘Ukrainian athletes fight for peace’ Romanchuk now aims to take his personal ‘fight’ into Otopeni 2023 and unleash the ‘swimming warrior’ on the European Short Course Championships. “My training hasn’t always been easy, with disruptions, but I’m mentally prepared,” he states. “I know that Romania has done a lot of things for Ukrainians so I hope to see a lot of Ukrainians over there and they will understand that athletes are not just fighting for themselves anymore. “We are fighting for the nation, for all the guys standing on the front line of the war and not only for peace in Ukraine, but for the whole of Europe.” You will be able to follow