Behind the Scenes of Daniel Wiffen’s SCM 800 Free WR: ‘I Was Throwing Up From 2 AM to 6 AM’

In a YouTube video released Sunday, Irish world record holder Daniel Wiffen revealed that he was sick and vomiting for hours in the middle of the night before clocking a 7:20.46 in the SCM 800 freestyle last month to break the oldest global standard on the books held by Grant Hackett (7:23.42) since 2008.

“Twelve hours after we came back from the heats, it didn’t go that well for me,” Wiffen recalled. “I was sick, I was throwing up from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. in the morning — which is not great prep for the world record.

“However, I got over it, I rehydrated, and I was ready and mentally dialed in to smash it out in the evening,” Wiffen continued. “I think we should talk a little bit about sleep and recovery. Going from heats to finals with just over 36 hours of recovery is not easy, and to do that and progress your time even further on just makes it even harder. I think this is where distance swimming is so much harder than all the other events because you really do have to be on form twice.”

Wiffen somehow swam about 400 meters to get a feel for the water the morning after his rough night. Then he rehydrated and went back to sleep for four or five hours, recovering just in time for the 800 free final.

“Sleep is definitely the most important part of your recovery between heats and finals,” Wiffen said. “That didn’t go very well for me, but as soon as I felt better and got rehydrated, I made sure I went straight back to sleep.”

Between walking out for the 800 free with his brother, Nathan, executing his race plan perfectly, and the frenzied aftermath, Wiffen called the European Short Course Championships “a dream come true.”

“I executed my race plan, I touched the wall, and I turned around I saw the time was 7:20.46,” said Wiffen, who became the first Irish swimmer ever to hold a world record. “Funny enough, the ‘WR’ didn’t come up on the screen straight away so I was a bit skeptical if I had actually done it or not.

“Loads of people congratulated me,” he added. “This was the only short course world record in 2023 so it wasn’t just special for me, it was special for the whole of swimming.”

Wiffen’s previous-best time was also the old European record, a 7:25.96 from the 2022 Irish Winter Championships last December. That ranked him as the 4th-fastest performer in history at the time, but he used a different race strategy to catapult to the top of that list. Wiffen registered negative split en route to the world record (3:40.91/3:39.55), taking a different approach compared to when he set the Irish national record in the 400 free at the midway point of his previous-best 7:25.96 in December of 2022 (3:38.40/3:47.56).

Hackett had held that 800 free world record since August 3, 2001, less than a month after Wiffen was born.

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3 months ago

Hell yeah! That’s some resiliency!

3 months ago

I guess we can throw that “get a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast” Idea out the window.

Reply to  Swimpop
3 months ago

So real been there and done that also don’t need to fell good during warmup to swim fast at that point it’s all confidence in the work you put in.

Steve Nolan
3 months ago

well now he’s gonna have to do that every time.

can’t change what’s working.

3 months ago

So basically, this is a 7:41 LCM swim

Reply to  John26
3 months ago

Do you want a hug?

Reply to  John26
3 months ago

no lol definitely in the 7.35-7.38 range

3 months ago

Throwing up for 4 hours is exag!

Reply to  Seli's_my_baby
3 months ago

Why do you think so? He said “I was throwing up from 2am to about 6am”, I don’t think anyone heard that and thought he had his face in a plastic bag for 4 hours straight. If I threw up a couple times over the course of 4 hours, I would describe it exactly the way he did.

3 months ago

throwing up for 4 hours in the middle of the night and then smashing a distance free WR is wild

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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