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European Junior Swimming Championships to kick off in Otopeni on Tuesday with 494 contenders

Inquam Photos / Alex Nicodim
Inquam David Popovici

No less than 494 swimmers from 42 countries will take the start on Tuesday in the European Junior Swimming & Diving Championships staged at the new Otopeni Olympic Swimming Complex (July 5-10); Romania has a 26-strong line-up of 14 boys and 12 girls, headed by double world senior champion David Popovici, president of the Romanian Swimming and Modern Pentathlon Federation Camelia Potec announced at a press conference in Bucharest on Monday.

''We are just a few hours away from a historic event for Romanian swimming - the first edition of the European Junior Swimming Championships hosted by our country. It was hard, but there's just little time left until the first start of the competition in Romania and I am glad and touched to see this happening," Potec said, adding: "We want to prove to the European Swimming Federation that we are capable of organizing European Championships of such magnitude in Romania and, why not, further host such competitions.''

Triple European junior champion David Popovici will defend his titles in the men's 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle events, and will also race in the 4x100m, 4x100m (mixed) and 4x200m freestyle relays. Basically, Romania pins all its hopes for medals on the 17-year-old and on his younger team mate Vlad Stancu (of the 'Steaua' Sports Club), a rising star in the long-course freestyle events (400, 800, and 1,500m).

Popovici will spring into action on the first day of the competition which will see him race in the prelims and semifinals of the 200m freestyle, and the prelims and the final of the 4x100m freestyle events.

Last year, at the European Junior Championships in Rome, Popovici won gold in the 50m, 100m (junior world record) and 200m freestyle treble, as well as silver in the 4x100m freestyle relay. Romania came in fifth in the medal standings.

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