Australian star Kyle Chalmers has been put on notice ahead of the Paris Olympics after Romanian David Popovici swam the third-fastest 100 metres freestyle of all time at the European Championships in Belgrade.

Popovici, 19, clocked 46.88 seconds, 0.08 off the world record set by China’s Pan Zhanle at the World Championships in Doha in February.

He now has two of the top three 100m freestyle swims in history, having set the previous world record of 46.86 at the 2022 European Championships in Rome.

Chalmers, the 2023 world champion in the men’s event, swam 47.75 at Australia’s selection trials in Brisbane last week, having been troubled by an ongoing back complaint.

The 2016 Olympic gold medallist equalled his personal best of 47.08 when he claimed silver behind American Caeleb Dressel in the men’s 100m freestyle at the Tokyo Games in 2021.

Pan was confirmed in China’s Olympic team on Tuesday and the 19-year-old will hope to add the Paris gold to his world title from Doha.

Only five swimmers have broken the 47-second barrier in the event.

The US will be sending a strong line-up to Paris, with Chris Guiliano (47.38) and Jack Alexy (47.47) edging out Dressel at its Olympic trials in Indianapolis.

Alexy, the world championships silver medallist from Fukuoka last year, swam 47.08 in the heats.

Speaking after his victory at the Australian trials last Thursday night, Chalmers said he was battling a degenerative back issue.

He said he had received four cortisone injections earlier in the week to combat the condition that flared up again recently.

“‘I’ve got bulging discs in my back and a bit of a degenerative spine. I’ve now had 10 cortisones in my back throughout my career,” Chalmers said.

“I’ve really dealt with them since 2018-2019.

“I’ve been doing some landscape labouring up on the Sunny Coast and I decided I wouldn’t go to work on the Friday and I’d rest for trials and kind of just spend the day laying on the couch, which my body’s clearly not used to.

“It got pretty stiff, then Saturday morning I tried to do a dive and it just … locked up.”

ABC/Reuters

Posted 4h ago4 hours agoThu 20 Jun 2024 at 1:36am, updated 2h ago2 hours agoThu 20 Jun 2024 at 3:01am

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