Daniel Wiffen’s impressive end to 2022 continued with a new 800m freestyle European Short Course record on the opening day of the Irish National Winter Championships.
The 21-year-old set new Irish records in the 400m individual medley as well as the 800m and 1500m freestyle events last week in Scotland.
Wiffen’s latest success, claiming victory in seven minutes 25.96 seconds sees him become the first Irish swimmer to break a European record over any distance.
He beat the previous landmark time, of 7:27.94, set by Italian world champion Gregorio Paltrinieri last year by 1.98 secs.
“I’m very happy, it’s obviously a very fast time and number one in the world (this year),” Wiffen told Swim Ireland.
“I knew that I’d be sub 7.30 and I was aiming for a top-10 in the world, I think that puts me fourth, but I said quietly I’d go for a European record to all my friends in Loughborough.”
Wiffen’s 400m split was also a new Irish record for that distance and his 800m time is not only the quickest time recorded in the world this year, but is also just 2.54 secs short of the world record (7:23.42) set by Australian great Grant Hackett in 2008.
“I’m still quite young and next year I’ll go for the world record,” he stated.
The FINA World Swimming Championship (25m) are taking place in Melbourne, Australia, where the Irishman would have been a strong medal-contender, but he has no regrets about his decision to skip the event.
“It would have been nice to have a world championship medal but we’re all focusing on long-course season and building into Paris (2024), so I’m happy with my decision,” he said.
Earlier this year Wiffen claimed 1500m silver for Northern Ireland at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealths and his long-term aim is to challenge for honours at the Paris 2024 Olympics, at what would be his second Games.
The Olympics (in Tokyo) was my first big senior meet so come Paris I’d like to get a medal.
“I know a lot of the (top) guys and (Olympic champion) Florian (Wellbrock) texted me after my 1500m to say ‘well done’ and I guess now my name is in the mix with them which is quite nice.”