Wiffen Smashes Field to Claim Second World Title

Daniel Wiffen has won his second World Title of the week in the 1500m Freestyle this evening and has been named Male Swimmer of the Meet by World Aquatics on the final day of racing at the World Championships in Doha.

Wiffen demolished the 1500m Freestyle field, claiming the gold medal by over ten seconds in 14:34.07, a new personal best and Irish Senior Record, breaking his previous best of 14:34.91 from 2023. Germany’s Florian Wellbrock won silver in 14.44.61 with bronze going to France’s David Aubry in 14:44.85.

A delighted Wiffen spoke after the race ‘I mean that race was definitely better for me, I pb’d (personal best), I’m so happy, because after hitting that time in April (2023), it could have been a fluke, I went 14:35 at the under 23’s (Dublin, August 2023) in my home town, obviously coming here, the progression from the 400m to the 800m to the 1500m today, I’m just so happy to come away with a pb and two world titles’.

Wiffen swam much of the race out on his own, taking the lead at the 150m and building up a lead of 20 metres over his opponents that was never relinquished. On his race tactics, Wiffen said ‘I was talking about it before with my coach Andi (Manley), and we had a little bet to see if I could pb or not, but yeah 100%, go out a bit faster than everybody else and just be in my own lane, swim my own race and get out ahead and really focus on what I was going to do.’

The 22-year-old spent most of race inside world record pace; he is now the fifth fastest swimmer ever in the event with this time and has a target on Sun Yang’s 2012 World Record of 14:31.02 ‘Yeah 100%, it’s definitely one of my goals to try and beat that at some point, I mean I’m only 22, I have at least another eight years, another couple of Olympics in me, I’m sure it will go at some stage and I hope to be the person to do it’.

Mona McSharry, competing in her third final of the week, was eighth in the 50m Breaststroke Final in 30.96. The 23-year-old has had an outstanding week, making finals in the 50m, 100m and 200m Breaststroke with fifth place finishes in the 100m and 200m Olympic events.

Speaking after the race McSharry said ‘I think, I’m a little hard on myself and I expected a little bit more coming into this, three finals is definitely progress and being able to move along and perform well through the rounds is definitely something positive so, I’ll take that from it’.

Conor Ferguson (Backstroke), Darragh Green (Breaststroke), Max McCusker (Butterfly) and Shane Ryan (Freestyle), were seventh in the Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay in 3:35.28, just outside the 3:34.97 swam in this morning’s heats.

The Medley Relay today was an opportunity for nations to secure their places at the Paris Olympic Games, with the combined Top-16 times from Doha and the 2023 World Championships in Japan considered for invitations. As of this evening Ireland sit thirteenth (Women) and fifteenth (Men) and within the quota spots available.

Ireland still have some work to do in the Men’s relay, with two Olympic Qualification Times (OQT) required from the team in order to confirm the Olympic place when the invitation arrives. Ireland have only had one previous Male relay at an Olympic Games when the 4x200m Freestyle competed in Tokyo in 2021.

Commenting after the Men’s Medley Final McCusker said ‘We were delighted we got the relay in, it’s an individual sport and we’re all going for our own times that we need as well, but getting that relay across the line was the main goal, the main focus here. I think we’re all in good places now heading into trials as individuals.’

While they did not compete in Doha, Ireland’s Women’s 4x100m Medley Relay time of 4:01.25 from the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, is good enough for a quota spot for Paris 2024. Ireland already has two females with Olympic Qualification Times from that relay in Mona McSharry and Ellen Walshe. It will be Ireland’s first female relay at an Olympic Games since 1972.

Mona McSharry, who swam the Breaststroke leg in Fukuoka said ‘That’s definitely one of the positives of this competition was getting to finalise that spot and know that we’re definitely going. It’s going to be a lot of fun to compete with the girls, I think it’s the last event in Paris, so it will be nice for us all to finish together with a relay and it shows where women’s swimming is going in Ireland.’

Speaking at the conclusion of racing in Doha, Swim Ireland National Performance Director Jon Rudd said “This brings to an end a wonderful week for Irish swimming, a terrific team performance and some exceptional stand out moments across the eight days. The superlatives for Daniel Wiffen’s two gold medals this week are endless, and how he continues to inspire young Irish swimmers back at home with these swims of this nature cannot be measured. Mona McSharry has also featured in three finals this week, another tremendous achievement and for the Men’s Medley relay to make the final with yet another ‘first’ for us is outstanding. Seven finals in total for us here and another three semi-finals, with Ireland finishing tenth on the World Medal Table. At least two of our relays can now look forward to Olympic invites and our final Olympic Trials in May is set to become one of the most exciting swimming events ever to take place at the National Aquatic Centre. So, a thank you and a very well done is due to this team of terrific athletes, their coaches, and their home programmes; they have done us proud once again.”

 The next opportunity for Irish swimmers to qualify for the Paris Games will be at the Irish Open Championships and Olympic Trials, which take place at the Sport Ireland National Aquatic Centre from May 22nd – 26t

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