World finalist Daniel Wiffen eyeing podiums in Paris
Daniel Wiffen limbered up for next month's European Short Course Championships with a dominant display at the British Universities & Colleges Sport Championships in Sheffield at the weekend.
Wiffen's primary focus may be Paris 2024, but the 22-year-old coasted to a 400m-800m-1500m freestyle treble at Ponds Forge to signal his well-being ahead of December's six-day meet in Bucharest.
The 2022-2023 season proved an annus mirabilis for the freestyle specialist from Magheralin, on the Down/Armagh border, with new Irish records seemingly set every time he took to the blocks. Wiffen lowered the 400m, 800m and 1500m previous national bests over the campaign in both short course and long course.
His short course season reached its zenith at last December's Irish National Winter Championships, where he became the first Irish swimmer to set a European record when winning the 800m in seven minutes 25.96 seconds. That time was the fastest clocked in the world in 2022 and the fourth fastest swim in history.
Personal bests and Irish records followed at the Stockholm Open when the long course season got under way, with the season culminating in fourth-place finishes at the World Championships in the 800m and 1500m.
Wiffen set a new European long course record in the 800m, and the disappointment he expressed in 'only' finishing fourth in the longer event only serves to highlight the astonishing progress he has made in the last two seasons.
Medals – three of them – came a month later at the inaugural European U-23 Championships in Dublin, with silver in the 400m and 800m complementing his gold in the 1500m.
Long before his meteoric rise, Wiffen took his first baby steps in the sport in Water Babies sessions, although they weren't literally