Ireland’s Daniel Wiffen had the swim of his life on Sunday, smashing the oldest World swimming record on the books in the 800m Freestyle Final at the European Aquatics Short Course Championships in Otopeni, Romania.
Wiffen, the European Record (7:25.96) holder, took almost three seconds off Australian legend Grant Hackett’s 2008 time of 7:23.42, touching the wall in an incredible 7:20.46. Hackett had in fact first owned the World Record since August 2001, two weeks after Daniel was born.
It was Wiffen’s third gold and third European Title of the Championships, with the Magheralin man also laying claim to the European and Championship records and the male swimmer of the meet award.
Speaking to European Aquatics after the swim Wiffen said “It’s amazing. I had people messaging me asking if I was going to try and break the world record, but I was trying to keep it under wraps that I was in the shape for it. I actually felt horrible during the morning so it’s great to swim that fast when I’ve been feeling that way.
“This is the hardest ever period (of racing) as I’ve had ten days of racing. I’ve done four 1500’s, three 800’s, and two 400’s in ten days and to finish off with the world record just proves my fitness.
“This time last year I broke the European record in the 800m and then in April I went 14:36 and then at the world champs, two fourth places and a European record long course in the 800m freestyle. Off the back of that I was kind of disappointed with my fourth places so coming here I was like ‘we need to step up, no more fourth places’ let’s get in the medals and we came away with three golds and a world record which is just amazing!”
Also swimming the 800m Final, Nathan Wiffen placed eighth in 7:39.99. It was the 22-year-olds second fastest time ever in the event. Swimming at his first senior international Wiffen was happy with his performances saying “I was very tired in that final, I’m not going to lie, I got a 13 second best in the heats and I was blown away by that, but then I’ve never done that many events in my life, I’ve never done that many swims and I’m very proud that on my first ever international stage that I’ve made two finals and that was the fastest final there’s ever been, so I was so proud to make it.”
This European Championships has proven itself to be Ireland’s most successful outing at an international swimming Championships, particularly when you look at some of the outcomes from the six days in Otopeni. Ireland collected four medals, with three of them being gold, and swimmers re-wrote Irish Senior Records on sixteen occasions, with four Irish Junior Records also claimed here.
Even though this team did not feature the likes of Mona McSharry, Conor Ferguson or Darragh Greene on this occasion, Irish swimmers competed in twelve finals and twenty semi-finals across the twelve sessions, very much establishing Ireland as a serious swimming force in Europe.
Speaking at the conclusion of the Championships, Swim Ireland National Performance Director Jon Rudd commented “A first ever World Record for Irish swimming is sensational, something we all dreamt of, and Daniel has delivered that today in some style. This is an iconic moment in Irish sporting history.”
Rudd went on to say, “With a World Championships taking place in February 2024, and with it being one of our Paris Olympic qualification events giving it further status, a large proportion of our team where in full training through this competition in Romania and not rested for peak performance, making the outcomes above and the number of lifetime best performances achieved across the team even more impressive. To finish seventh on a senior European Medal Table without a full complement of athletes being present is extremely encouraging for us and each and every one of these athletes can go into Christmas knowing that they are in a good place, that their coaches are doing a great job with them and that they can look forward to the long course (50m) pool season starting from the beginning of January. For many of them, they will bounce off this meet into the three-day Irish Winter National Championships in Dublin at the end of this week (15th – 17th December) and they have every chance to be faster still at that competition. I would encourage any swimming fans to come along to the National Aquatic Centre and see some of these guy race first-hand – it is highly inspirational to see them in action, particularly for any youngsters who have ambitions in the sporting world.”
Ireland’s preparation plan into the World Championships in Doha in February is in place, as is the plan from the World’s into Ireland’s final Olympic Trials in Dublin in May. Ireland has three relays in provisional Olympic qualification positions from the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka and will hope to cement these slots when Doha comes around, striving for this alongside the ambition to have more swimmers and divers adding their names to the Paris flight list via individual performances at this Championships.
2023 European Aquatics SC Swimming Championships (Otopeni, Romania)
Day 6 – Sunday 10th December l Results
|Women’s 400m Freestyle
|Men’s 800m Freestyle Final
|7:20.46 (1st) WORLD RECORD