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

Credit to: European Aquatics

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

Credit to: European Aquatics

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

Credit to: World Aquatics

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

Credit to: Morgan Harlow, British Swimming

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

Credit to: European Aquatics

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

Credit to: World Aquatics

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.