Daniel Wiffen On His World Record, Twin Brother Nathan & Playstation 5

Daniel Wiffen: Picture Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer/MAGICPBK

Daniel Wiffen On His World Record, Twin Brother Nathan & Playstation 5

A couple of days after becoming the 800 free s/c world record-holder, Daniel Wiffen sits in his room in Loughborough recalling the minutes and hours after he became the fastest man in history over 32 lengths.

The 22-year-old became the first Irish swimmer to set a global standard when he swam away from the world record line in 7:20.46 at the European Short-Course Championships in Otopeni.

He didn’t so much lower Grant Hackett’s mark of 7:23.42 as obliterate it, taking 2.96secs off the longest-standing WR in the books dating back to July 2008.

His phone blew up with hundreds of messages of congratulations including one from Hackett who told Wiffen to “enjoy it because world records don’t happen very often”.

Wiffen’s swim had the crowd at the Aquatics Complex of Otopeni on its feet, with everybody present witnessing a slice of history.

Wiffen told Swimming World:

“I got out of the pool and there was so much emotion.

“I got a stampede of children just following me asking for my race suit: I threw away my hat, my goggles.

“I threw my hat into the crowd, it’s actually my favourite cap so somebody has my favourite cap.

“I’ve worn it at nearly every competition as well: the Olympics and everything.

“I think a child got that…yeah, it’s pretty cool, I’m sure I can get another.

“I did all the interviews and had to get drug-tested to verify the world record and they took a photo of my suit.

“I then basically just celebrated with my friends in the hotel lobby and my Ireland teammates and also Felix Auboeck and Lucas Henveaux (Loughborough Performance Centre training partners).

“I chatted until 1am: I tried to get to sleep but couldn’t – too much caffeine – but we had to leave at 3am for my flight back home.

“Then I was walking down the street in Loughborough and I must have had every person congratulating me as I walked past them and I didn’t know who they were half the time.”

Recalling the moment he finished the race, Wiffen added:

“It was obviously amazing. I touched, turned around and the WR didn’t come up for a while but I saw the time of 7:20 and I was amazed.

“I think I knew I was going to do it when I was in the race because you could hear the crowd gong, the crowd noise was surreal.

“As soon as I dived in, as soon as I was on pace or under pace, you can just hear it.”

Wiffen was 0.11 inside WR pace at halfway but accelerated over the second half of the race, to negative-split the race by a huge margin, going 3:40.91 over the first 400m before coming back in 3:39.55.

“The plan originally was to go out quite hard, try and see if we could go under 3:40 going out but we were just a bit over that.

“Then I was going to try at 400 go all out and see how fast I could go and I ended up coming back on a 3:39 which I never thought was actually possible which was kind of surreal.”

Daniel Wiffen: Picture Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer / MAGICPBK

Sickness and stomach cramps in the early hours of the day of the race made Wiffen’s performance all the more remarkable.

He said:

“I think it’s probably one of the worst I’ve ever felt before a race. Which is kind of weird to say.

“I wasn’t feeling very well: I don’t know what happened, I don’t know if IU had food poisoning, I had really sharp pains in my stomach.

“I went to bed at 10 and woke up at 1am and was just throwing up until 5am.

“And my coach Jon Rudd said to me you don’t have to come in this morning and I went back to bed for like four hours and then went to the pool and came back and slept the whole day.

“I think the amount of sleep I had before the final was probably why I was so recovered because I got my swim in the morning and then slept until I had to leave for the final. It was about six hours.

“I think from throwing up my stomach muscles were still quite sore so I could really feel it during the race and I think that’s one of the reasons I didn’t go out as fast as I wanted to.”

Nathan Wiffen, PBs and PlayStation 5

History was made left, right and centre.

Coming into Otopeni, no Irish swimmer had won a European short-course title.

That statistic was consigned to history on the opening night as Wiffen picked apart the field to clinch the 400 free in a national record of 3:35.47.

Next up was the 1500 where he became the third-fastest man all-time behind Florian Wellbrock’s 14:06.88 WR and Gregorio Paltrinieri (14:08.06) in 14:09.11.

Then the 800 gold and WR.

Daniel and Nathan Wiffen

Daniel and Nathan Wiffen: Courtesy: Swim Ireland

Otopeni also marked twin brother Nathan’s international debut, the pair sharing a room as they continued the habit of a lifetime that only ended when Daniel left for Loughborough University.

Going in, Nathan’s goal was to make a final and Daniel gave him an incentive.

He said:

“I told him I’d buy him a PlayStation 5 if he made the final.

“I bought it in advance because I told him that if he didn’t make it he’d have to pay me back.

“I knew he was going to make it: I knew with it missing Florian Wellbrock and Gregorio  Paltrinieri, Id didn’t think it was going to be that tough to make it back in the 1500.

“He made it back and PBd in the 1500.

“People who don’t do the distance freestyle don’t really understand how hard it is to swim a 1500 heats and the next day to swim the final and to still progress from that on his first time doing it I think was amazing.

“I didn’t do it my first time in 2021 at world short course, I got two seconds slower in the final and funnily that was the world record race as well.

“That was the second- last time I ever got lapped in a 1500 as well.”

After finishing eighth in the longest race in the pool clocking 14:38.75, Nathan would go on to repeat that in the 800 in 7:39.99.

Daniel added:

“The 800: I didn’t think he was going to make it, I was shocked.

“He got a 13-second PB in the 800 heats to make the final and I was more proud of him than me to be honest.

“And he comes along on top of the world after his 13-second PB and tells me I have to do that now to beat him.

“Nathan in his head – apparently his swims are way better than mine because he got a bigger PB than I did.

“He goes to me ‘well, I expected you to do that, nobody expected me to get a 13-second PB.”



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