Daniel Wiffen

View Current photo via Patrick B. Kraemer / MAGICPBK

Dan Wiffen is an Irish distance freestyler. A multi-time European Champion, Wiffen is the first Irishman to set a European record and a world record, both in the 800 free (SCM). At the 2023 SC Euros, Wiffen broke the oldest and longest-standing SCM world record in the 800 free. Wiffen holds Irish Records in the 400, 800, and 1500 free across both SCM and LCM.

Personal Life

Wiffen has a twin brother Nathan. Both swam with Nathan initially specializing in backstroke while Dan specialized in free. They moved up the ranks of Irish swimming together and moved to the National Performance Center in Dublin together. They later moved to Loughborough University together. The two share a pet tortoise, flash, and a YouTube channel, Wiffen Twins,  where they vlog their swimming careers. Both twins were extras in the famous ‘Red Wedding’ scene of Game of Thrones as 12-year-olds.

Junior Swimming 

2019 Irish Open Swimming Championships (Dublin, Ireland)

Wiffen, 17,  took down a long course Irish Junior Record at the 2019 Irish Open Swimming Championships. He busted out a new lifetime best of 8:16.79 in the 800, clearing the European Junior Championships and World Junior Championships time standards in the process. Wiffen’s effort surpassed the previous Junior Record of 8:19.15 by over 2 seconds and earned him a national title. Wiffen put up a strong 1500 freestyle performance and nailed a time of 15:53.03 to dip under the consideration times for European and World Juniors.

National/International Swimming

2020 Irish Winter Meet (Dublin, Ireland)

In his first meet post-COVID lockdown, Wiffen opened with a bang. Wiffen fired off a new national record in the 1500 freestyle (LCM). Wiffen produced a time of 15:19.04. This result sliced just over half a second off of the longstanding Irish national record of 15:19.98. He also popped PBs in the 200 free (1:48.19/1:52.54) and 400 free (3:58.42/3:49.55) in both SCM and LCM respectively (prelims were SCM and finals were LCM). 

2021 Irish National Team Trials (Dublin, Ireland)

In the 800 free, Wiffen obliterated his PB with a massive 7:52.68. That overtook his best time by 13 seconds and the Irish standard of 8:05.30 Andrew Meegan put on the books back in 2013 by 12 seconds. Wiffen’s result landed well below the FINA ‘A’ time standard of 7:54.31 needed to qualify for the 2020(1) Olympic Games. 

“It’s probably the most nervous competition I’ve ever been to,” said Wiffen post-race. “I only managed to eat cereal for breakfast. I was thinking about it all day. I knew I had to be in and around 3:55 out on the 400 meters, so I wanted to be quite comfortable out. I kinda knew I went out the right time and towards the end, I had a cheeky look at the clock on the last 50 to see where I was. I just got my head down then to get that time. It’s unbelievable – 19 and going to the Olympics. I am over the moon and I just have to thank my parents, my coaches, and all of my friends for helping me get here.” 

Wiffen took down his Irish record in the 1500 free with a 15:16.90. 

2020(1) Olympic Games (Tokyo, Japan)

Wiffen was 1 of 8 on the 9-strong Irish Olympic Swimming roster making his Olympic debut. In the 800 free, Wiffen clocked 7:51.65 to erase his previous Irish mark of 7:52.90. He placed 14th, In the 1500 free, Wiffen posted a time of 15:07.69 to break his own Irish record from April.

2021 FINA World Cup Stop #1 (Berlin, Germany)

Wiffen just missed the Irish record in the 1500 free (SCM) with a PB of 15:00.97.

2021 FINA World Cup Stop #2 (Budapest, Hungary)

Wiffen hit a personal best of 14:48.24 to finish 4th. In doing so, Wiffen became the 1st swimmer ever from Irlend under the 15-minute barrier in the 1500 free (SCM). The previous Irish national record stood at 15:00.88  from Andrew Meegan in 2013. Wiffen also posted a PB of 3:48.59 in the 400 free. 

2021 FINA Short Course World Championships (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

In the 1500 prelims, Wiffen posted a big best time with a 14:32.13, dropping 16 seconds off his previous best and NR. That swim was good enough to qualify for his first international final. In the final, he added a bit with a 14:36.78 for 8th. 

2022 Swim Open Stockholm  (Stockholm, Sweden)

Wiffen edged closer to the 15-minute barrier with a 15:02.78, downing his previous national record of 15:07.69.  He also clocked a new PB in the 400 free with a 3:48.75 in prelims; Wiffen scratched the final. In the 800, Wiffen crushed a 7:50.74, another national record. 

2022 FINA World Aquatics Championships (Budapest, Hungary)

In the prelims of the men’s 800 free, Wiffen wreaked havoc on his old Irish record time of 7:50.74, swimming a 7:46.32 to secure a spot in the final. He became the first Irish swimmer to final in this event. In his first long-course international final, Wiffen placed 8th in 7:50.63.

Wiffen just missed out on a second final in the 1500 free but his swim still marked a major milestone. Wiffen swam 14:57.66, which was good for 9th place in the preliminary heats of the event and brought the Irish Record under the 15-minute barrier.

2022 Commonwealth Games (Birmingham, England)

Representing Northern Ireland, Wiffen took over a second off his old record time of 3:48.75, swimming a new personal best of 3:47.43 to finish first in the prelims. In the final, he lowered the record again with a 3:46.62 but fell just short of the podium, finishing 4th behind the all-Aussie podium of Elijah Winnington (3:43.06), Sam Short (3:45.07), and Mack Horton (3:46.49). Instead of Wiffen becoming Northern Ireland’s first-ever swimming medal at the Commonwealth Games, it was Barry McClemets who took bronze in 100 back S9 final in the same session as his 400 free near miss. 

Wiffen cruised through heats of the 1500 with a 15:37.53 to qualify 5th. Although Sam Short of Australia ultimately took the win in the final, silver was captured by Wiffen in a new PB of 14:51.79. Wiffen joined Short in punching the only other sub-15:00 time of the field. This was Wiffen’s first international medal. Wiffen’s medal made him the first able-bodied Irish swimmer to stand on the podium at the Games.

2022 British Universities & Colleges Short Course Championships (Sheffield, England)

In the 800 free, Wiffen produced a winning time of 7:39.03. That beat the field by over 5 seconds en route to grabbing the gold for Loughborough University. That time marked a new Irish Record, beating out his own record of 7:41.82 that he set to the feet in his 1500 free at the 2021 SC World Championships. In the 1500 free, Wiffen established a new BUCS Championships Record of 14:37.69 on the way to producing the 3rd fastest time of his career.

2022 Scottish National Short Course Championships (Glasgow, Scotland)

Wiffen’s hot streak continued. In the 400 IM, Wiffen touched 3rd in 4:11.05, bettering his prior career-quickest rested at the 4:39.84 from December 2017 and shaving just over a second of Brendan Hyland’s Irish Record of 4:12.13. 

That 400 IM turned out to just be a warm-up. On night 2, Wiffen fired off a monster lifetime best in the 1500 free. Touching in a time of 14:14.45, Wiffen obliterated his own previous Irish standard of 14:32.13. With his new time, Wiffen checked in as the 6th fastest performer in history. Wiffen’s 800m free split of 7:35.71 also cracked his own Irish national record in that distance. Those times were the #1 and #2 times globally in the 1500 and 800 for the season to that point.

2022 Irish Winter Championships (Dublin, Ireland)

Wiffen opted out of SC Worlds but simultaneous to that competition, Wiffen raced at the Irish Winter Championships (SCM). On day 1, Wiffen made his own bit of history. In the 800 free, Wiffen clocked a 7:25.96. That swim not only hacked 10 seconds off his own PB and Irish record but took 2 seconds off of the prior European Record of 7:27.94 Gregorio Paltrinieri put on the books in 2021. It should be noted that both Mykhailo Romanchuk (7:25.73) and Henrik Christiansen (7:25.78) put up times faster than Wiffen’s in a 2020 ISL test event but their times were never ratified. Excluding those unratified swims, Wiffen’s time made him the 2nd-fastest ever behind Grant Hackett’s legendary world record of 7:23.42. At the time, Hackett’s 800 free was the oldest on the books, having been set just 3 weeks prior to the 2008 Olympic Games, and one of the most dominant. That swim also made him the first Irishman to own a European Record. 

Wiffen had another big PB in the 400 free where he clocked a 3:38.40. 

2023 Luxembourg Euro Meet (Luxembourg)

Wiffen and Mykhailo Romanchuk battled it out in the 1500 free. Romanchuk posted a winning effort of 14:59.28, getting to the wall just over a second ahead of Wiffen’s 15:00.34. Wiffen’s time was #3 in the world to that point. Wiffen got the better of Romanchuk in the 800 by over 4 seconds with a 7:53.14. Wiffen also topped the 400 free with a 3:50.24.

2023 Swim Open Stockholm (Stockholm, Sweden)

Wiffen had the most impressive meet of his life in Stockholm. He opened the meet with a 3:44.35 400 free. That swim shaved over 2 seconds off his best and was the #2 time in the world to that point in the season. Wiffen was faster on all but the final 100 versus his previous Irish record. The 400 was just a teaser of what was to come. In the 1500 the next night, Wiffen rocked a monster 14:34.91. That was a 17-second drop and made Wiffen the #4 performer in history. Remarkably, the opening 800 free from Wiffen’s race tied his 7:46.32 national record from 2022. In the 800 free, Wiffen clocked another national record with a 7:44.45, dropping about 2 seconds off his best. That made him the 23rd-fastest in history and led the world. On the SwimSwam Podcast shortly after, Wiffen told us, with only 4 more seconds to shave off, he was gunning for Sun Yang’s legendary 14:31.02 world record: “I just need to swim again,” said Wiffen.

2023 AP Race International Meet (London, England)

Wiffen put up a solid 14:57.30 1500 free. He was a also 3:50.88 in the 400 free and a 7:47.52 in the 800 free.

2023 Sette Colli Trophy (Rome, Italy)

Wiffen was consistent with his in-season swims, putting up a 3:48.81 400 free, 7:50.64 800 free, and 15:02.51.

2023 World Aquatics Championships (Fukuoka, Japan)

Wiffen scratched the 400 free. In the 800 free, Wiffen clocked a 7:43.81 to qualify bout of prelims in 4th. Shaving over half a second off his best. “My plan was to be as easy as possible,” said Wiffen post-race, “and I was maybe hoping for a tiny bit faster but I’m really happy I made it back and it wasn’t too taxing in the body.”

 The final was one of the best races of the entire meet with an absurd 5 men under the 7:40 barrier. Wiffen sat at the back of the leading pack for most of the race, alternating between the 4th and 5th positions. Wiffen ended up finishing 4th in a 7:39.19, dropping 4.62 seconds off his best and national record. That time slotted him in at #9 in history as Ahmed Hafnaoui (7:37.00), Sam Short (7:37.76), and Bobby Finke (7:38.67) became the #3, #4, and #7 performers. Wiffen broke Gregorio Paltrinieri‘s European Record of 7:39.27 to take ownership of both the SCM and LCM 800 free records.

Wiffen, the “new kid on the block,” headed into perhaps the most anticipated men’s race of Worlds. The 1500 was set to feature half of the top 10 performers. Heavy hitter Florian Wellbrock missed the final and defending world champ Paltrinieri pulled out with the open water portion of the meet scheduled before the pool portion.

In the first circle-seeded heat, Finke and Wiffen duked it out. Wiffen led for most of the race, but Finke passed him on the back half. On the final 50, Wiffen came back to Finke by a little but the gap was just too much to close. Finke (14:43.06) and Wiffen (14:43.50) were the top seeds for the final by over 6 seconds. 

In the final, Wiffen got off the a quick start, sitting 2nd through the 300, he dropped back after that to 5th before settling to the 4th position at the 600, where he remained through the finish. Wiffen’s 14:43.01 was well off his best.

Despite the poor scheduling with open water, the distance races heeded a golden age of distance swimming, with Wiffen playing a major role in that.

2023 LEN U23 Championships (Dublin, Ireland)

Swimming in front of a home crowd, Wiffen took on the 400, 800, and 1500 free. In the 1500, Wiffen thought he was going out slow, but actually took it out like a rocket, sitting under world record pace through the 1200 and flipping in a 7:44.94 at the 800 mark. Wiffen fell off Sun Yang’s legendary pace down the stretch but still fired off an impressive 14:35.79. In the 400 free, Wiffen took 2nd in the 400 free with a 3:47.57. In a surprise upset, Wiffen took another silver in the 800, touching 4 seconds back of Sven Schwarz with a 7:45.59.

2023 British Universities & Colleges Short Course Championships (Sheffield, England)

Wiffen took the 1500  title by over 20 seconds, beating out his twin Nate with a 14:20.75. He registered his 2nd fastest 800 free of his career with a 7:30.06.

2023 Rotterdam Qualification Meet (Rotterdam, Netherlands)

Wiffen cruised through the heats with a 14:55.60. In the final the next night, Wiffen put up a solid 14:48.52 as the sole swimmer under 15 minutes. Wiffen swam the prelims of the 800 free, putting up a world-leading  7:45.61, but scratched the final.  

2023 European Short Course Championships (Otopeni, Romania)

Wiffen took on the 400 free first, moving comfortably through qualifying with a 3:39.54. That night, Wiffen handily overtook his own national record of 3:38.40 (which he set on his way to a European Record in the 800 free in 2022) with a massive 3:35.47 to take the title. He held off Danas Rapsys (3:37.80) and Lucas Henveaux (3:37.91) by a large margin as he became the #12 performer all-time. 

The next morning, Wiffen eased through the 1500 free heats with a 14:34.50 for the top seed into the final. His brother Nate qualified 7th. The next night in the final, Wiffen led the field at the first 25 and never looked back, soaring to a time of 14:09.11 to become just the fourth swimmer in history under the 14:10 barrier, moving to #3 in the historical rankings behind only Florian Wellbrock (14:06.88) and Gregorio Paltrinieri (14:08.06). That swim took over 5 seconds off his previous Irish Record of 14:14.45. In a similar fashion to the 1500, Wiffen cruised to the top seed out of prelims with a 7:33.38. 

On July 20, 2008, weeks before the Olympics,  Australia’s Grant Hackett, Wiffen’s “idol swimmer,” broke his own world record with a 7:23.42. Hackett first took ownership of the record on August 3, 2001, just a month after Wiffen’s birth. At one point, that was the most dominant SCM men’s record on the books; when Hackett set that mark, the #2 performer behind Hackett was Kieren Perkins with a 7:34.90 and until 2020, the #2 performer was Yannick Agnel with a 7:29.17. 

In the final, Wiffen was pure magic, obliterating Hackett’s World Record, the oldest record on the books, with a 7:20.46. Wiffen’s previous best was his European Record of 7:25.96. Wiffen actually took his race out slower than his prior best (3:40.91 vs. 3:38.40) but stormed home in 3:39.55 for the win. We believe Wiffen was the first Irishman to set a world record. Wiffen’s race was the only SCM World Record set in 2023. In a vlog on his channel a couple of weeks later, Wiffen revealed he was afflicted by a sudden bout of illness in the 36 hours between prelims and finals. “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.”

This biography was originally developed by Lucas Caswell

International Medals

Place Event Year Meet
Gold 400 Free 2023 Short Course European Championships
Gold 800 Free 2023 Short Course European Championships
Gold 1500 Free 2023 Short Course European Championships
Silver 1500 Free 2022 Commonwealth Games
Gold 1500 Free 2023 U23 European Championships
Silver 400 Free 2023 U23 European Championships
Silver 800 Free 2023 U23 European Championships

Best Times

Course Event Time Date Meet
lcm 400 Free 3:44.35 04/13/23 2023 Swim Open Stockholm
Stockholm, Sweden
scm 400 Free 3:35.47 12/05/23 2023 European Short Course Championships
Otopeni, Romania
lcm 800 Free 7:39.19 07/26/23 2023 World Aquatics Championships
Fukuoka, Japan
scm 800 Free 7:20.46 12/10/23 2023 European Short Course Championships
Otopeni, Romania
lcm 1500 Free 14:34.91 04/14/23 2023 Swim Open Stockholm
Stockholm, Sweden
scm 1500 Free 14:09.11 12/07/23 2023 European Short Course Championships
Otopeni, Romania