Wiffen 4th in World as Relays Both Claim 13th

ByEmma Porter |

Ireland’s Daniel Wiffen recorded a second fourth-place finish this week in the 1500m Freestyle Final on the last day of racing at the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan this afternoon. It was the 22-year-old’s second time just outside the medals this week, after a fourth place in the 800m Freestyle Final on Wednesday also.

The Magheralin man, who set a European Record in the 800m event on Wednesday, stopped the clock at 14:43.01 for his second-fastest time ever.

On one side of Wiffen, Australia’s Sam Short took the race out under world record pace, quickly positioning himself out ahead of the pack. At 1,000 metres, Short was caught by the two swimmers on Wiffen’s other side, USA’s Bobby Finke and Tunisia’s Ahmed Hafnaoui. The pair lead out for the rest of the race quickening their pace and leaving Wiffen with too much ground to make up.

The podium for the 1500m ended with the same three from the 800m, Hafnaoui a double World Champion in 14:31.54 and a new Championship Record; Finke taking home silver in 14:31.59 and Short the bronze in 14:37.28. Hafnaoui and Finke now the second and third fastest men ever in the event, Wiffen the seventh fastest.

Wiffen said ‘I’m happy with my World Champs so far, a bit of disappointment there going in with the fastest pb (personal best) and then coming fourth, but I mean that’s just sport. I guess I just have to train harder and come back faster’.

Looking ahead Wiffen said ‘I’m just going to go back training; I’ve got a vengeance now because I want to win that race and I didn’t. I’m just going to keep training; I’ve got the European U23s in Dublin so I’m going to focus on that and post some fast times there and then next season just go for that gold in Paris.’

Ireland’s Women’s and Men’s 4x100m Medley Relays both finished in thirteenth position in this morning’s heats at the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, provisionally placing them within the sixteen relay spots available for Paris 2024. Fukuoka is the first opportunity for relays to qualify for the Games, with a second and final opportunity at the Doha 2024 World Championships where relays can be moved up or down the rankings.

The women’s team of Danielle Hill (Backstroke), Mona McSharry (Breaststroke), Ellen Walshe (Butterfly) and Victoria Catterson (Freestyle) set a new Irish Record when they combined for a time of 4:01.25. The quartet had held the previous standard of 4:02.93 from the 2021 European Championships.

Speaking after the race Hill said, ‘It was nice to get out there with the girls, I think it’s only maybe the second time we raced together so I think the more we do it, the more we’re going to learn, and that’s what we’ve got to take from this, thirteenth is a nice place to be, but we would like more.’

Catterson added ‘It’s always a privilege to be included and to be able to race with these girls, it was us exact four who held the record, so to show we’re coming on in such big amounts only shows what’s to come. Thirteenth is a decent place to be but we’re always going to be looking for higher, we’re not satisfied with being comfortable in thirteenth we want to solidify our place and get to Paris’.

Ireland’s Men’s team of Conor Ferguson (Backstroke), Darragh Greene (Breaststroke), Max McCusker (Butterfly) and Shane Ryan (Freestyle) came home in 3:35.03 to win their heat, just 0.41 outside of the Irish Record of 3:34.62 set in 2021.

Conor Ferguson led out the team in the first leg in his second fastest time ever in the 100m Backstroke clocking 54.14 ‘I’m absolutely delighted with that, I’m even more delighted to be able to lead that relay off for the boys, it’s been a phenomenal trip, and camp’. Darragh Greene added ‘It was good, definitely a lot more we can play with, it’s a really promising team with Shane on the back end now and Max on Butterfly so really looking forward to where this can go.’

Ellen Walshe was also in action in the 400m Individual Medley this morning. Walshe had last raced on the opening day of competition, where she secured an Olympic Qualification Time in the 200m Individual Medley. Today, Walshe swam her fourth fastest time ever in the event of 4:43.24 to finish in sixteenth place overall.

Speaking after the race the 22-year-old said ‘It’s been a challenge to sit back for six days and you’re kind of out of the competition and to come back today and try to be as included as you can, standing on the block with the girls after the 400 IM is going to be a tough turnaround but I’m proud of the girls and I know we’ve got more to give.’

The Irish swimmers will arrive home to Dublin Airport at 1:40pm on Tuesday 1st August.

Jon Rudd, National Performance Director and Team Leader for the Championships commented at it’s conclusion, “The Team set six Irish Senior Swimming Records in a highly demanding arena, where 193 of the world’s swimming nations were present. Not only that, but three of our relays currently lie in the World Top-16 positions, giving us provisional Olympic berths at this point in time in all of them and we competed in 26 of the swimming events here, with 20 of these producing performances that saw us rise in the pre-meet rankings. So, you can see why we are proud of these athletes, the staff that have supported them whilst here – and their home coaching programmes who have delivered some excellent work prior to us travelling. We look forward to the LEN European Under 23 Championships in Dublin in just under two weeks’ time – and then Paris will be upon us sooner than we know it!”

While many of the swimmers finished their season in Japan, Daniel Wiffen, John Shortt, Mona McSharry, Ellen Walshe and Victoria Catterson will continue preparations into the inaugural LEN European Under 23 Swimming Championships taking place on the Sport Ireland Campus, Dublin from Friday 11th – Sunday 13th August.

Sunday 29th July Results

Women 400m Individual Medley                     Ellen Walshe                4:43.24 (16th)

Men 4x100m Medley Relay                               Ireland                        3:35.03 (13th)

Women 4x100m Medley Relay                         Ireland                        4:01.25 (13th)

Men 1500m Freestyle Final                               Daniel Wiffen            14:43.50 (2nd)    F 14:43.01 (4th)

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