Daniel Wiffen Demolishes Grant Hackett’s 15-Year-Old World Record in 800 Free (7:20.46)


Day 6 Finals Live Recap

Daniel Wiffen saved his best for last at the 2023 European Short Course Championships on Sunday.

The 22-year-old Irish distance specialist fired off a personal-best 7:20.46 in the SCM 800 freestyle, dropping more than five seconds and demolishing the legendary world record of 7:23.42 set by Australia’s Grant Hackett back on July 20, 2008, which made it the oldest world record still on the books. That standard stood untouched for 15 years before the arrival of Wiffen, who is believed to be the first Irish swimmer ever to own a world record.

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

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 now he’s on top of the list thanks to a different race strategy. Wiffen negative split tonight’s race (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 last December (3:38.40/3:47.56).

All-Time Men’s SCM 800 Free Performers

  1. Daniel Wiffen (IRL) – 7:20.46, 2023
  2. Grant Hackett (AUS) – 7:23.42, 2008
  3. Mykhailo Romanchuk (UKR) – 7:25.73, 2020
  4. Henrik Christiansen (NOR) – 7:25.78, 2020
  5. Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) – 7:27.94 2021


On Thursday, Wiffen claimed the 1500 free title in 14:09.11, knocking more than five seconds off his lifetime best to become the No. 4 all-time performer in the event. He was just a couple seconds away from Florian Wellbrock‘s world record of 14:06.88 from the 2021 Short Course World Championships. Wiffen also won the 400 free (3:35.47) on Tuesday, marking a complete sweep of the distance free events.

At the 2023 World Championships, a meet held in long-course meters, Wiffen placed 4th in the 800 free with a European record of 7:39.19, missing the podium less than a second behind Bobby Finke (7:38.67).


  • World Record: Grant Hackett (AUS) – 7:23.42 (2008)
  • European Record: Daniel Wiffen (IRL) – 7:25.96 (2022)
  • SC Euros Record: Gregorio Paltrinieri (ITA) – 7:27.94 (2021)

Top 8:

  1. Daniel Wiffen (IRL) – 7:20.46 *WORLD RECORD*
  2. David Aubry (FRA) – 7:30.32
  3. Mykhailo Romanchuk (UKR) – 7:31.20
  4. Victor Johansson (SWE) – 7:33.11
  5. Lucca De Tullio (ITA) – 7:34.08
  6. Dimitrios Markos (GRE) – 7:36.46
  7. Felix Auboeck (AUT) – 7:38.26
  8. Nathan Wiffen (IRL) – 7:39.99

Wiffen trains at Loughborough University in England. His only major international medal before sweeping three golds this week was a silver in the LCM men’s 1500 freestyle last summer at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

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2 months ago

wow congrats daniel!!!

2 months ago

Incredible effort by Wiffen! Men’s distance looking ridiculously strong at the moment, so many potential winners for Paris.

Summer Love
Reply to  Sub13
2 months ago

Men’s distance events were the most exciting events in Fukuoka

Can’t wait for Paris!

it's ya buoy
2 months ago

Men’s distance at the moment is packed full of outstanding talent

2 months ago

By far the biggest swim of these championships, why is this not getting as much hype as the NAG records?

Reply to  Justhereforfun
2 months ago

I thought exactly the same!

NornIron Swim
Reply to  Justhereforfun
2 months ago

The majority of commenters are from the US? And don’t have as much interest/understanding of SCM?

But absolutely, hype it up!

Reply to  Justhereforfun
2 months ago

That’s how Americans are. SCY is their thing, and these kids are the (very promising) future of US swimming; non US swimfans have to watch/follow various international competitions mid-season,, so we are used to being excited for the great swimmers of other nations, but the Americans have their yards swimming during this time, and why shouldn’t they be excited about their own stuff?
I mostly agree btw, but there is really no use asking this question.

Reply to  snailSpace
2 months ago

I’m not saying this in an attempt to diminish the crazy times in SCY, but more of asking the question “Why are we not more excited about the oldest WR being broken, and if us swim fans are not even excited about this, how can we appeal to non-swimmers who don’t even know the significance of such a record?”

I thought about it for a bit, I guess it’s because this WR kinda came out of nowhere, there was no build up towards it and there wasn’t a storyline to follow. On the other hand we were already keeping a close eye on the US juniors, and there was the Williamson vs Heilman and Shackell vs Crush (in the relay… Read more »

Reply to  Justhereforfun
2 months ago

I wouldn’t say it came out of nowhere. Fans have been discussing the possibility of this WR going down since before the meet started.

Reply to  Justhereforfun
2 months ago

Tbh, I personally didn’t really care about Winter Juniors (respectfully), but I understand why most Americans care more about it than about Wiffen breaking a WR. They are – as a rule – only interested in a random WR being broken if it was previously held by an American. They don’t really comment for example under Australian trials posts (except the trolls), or Euro Champs etc., whereas us “internationals” (or non-USians xd) are active mostly anywhere. There are obviously exceptions, but I digress. My point being: Americans are interested in the American stuff.

Reply to  Justhereforfun
2 months ago

It didnt come out of nowhere. It was talked a lot during this week. It was talked a lot during the year after Phelps’ 400IM record was broken. People were talking about how this was the last chance of the year to break a SCM world record. The record was also demolised, not just broken.
It is just that many US Swimming fans just dont care about swimming outside the USA, simple as that.

Reply to  Justhereforfun
2 months ago

Because the WR was held by Hackett and not by a USA swimmer

2 months ago

Swimswam time converter converts this to an 8:22 scy 1000

Reply to  Guy
2 months ago

If he comes over for the U.S. open in 2024 👀

2 months ago

Why does this only have 10 comments? This is historic. Longest standing record broken. 3’39 backhalf. Insane

2 months ago

I had thought his stroke, turns, and style were better suited for LCM. And maybe I’m still right! Excited to see what he does in Paris. This new golden age of men’s distance swimming is so dang exciting!!

2 months ago

Last individual WR left from 2008. Only men’s 4×100 long course and men’s 4×50 short course remain. I thought the 4×100 was ripe for breaking but the splits average out to 47.06…so nevermind! Does anyone even have two sub-47 swimmers right now? Maybe GB?

Reply to  Apathetic
2 months ago

an in-form GB team has a chance but it would take 4 perfect legs and Burras is always inconsistent

MattyRich and Scott can definitely be sub 47 off relay starts

2/3 of Deano/Whittle/Burras would have to show up. Can throw in old Mr. Reliable Jimmy Guy in for prelims too to save MattyRich or Duncs

Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

Dean has dropped a couple 46 splits, definitely the country with the guns to do it.

Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

Dean and Mat Richards are capable in..Duncan is now in 47s low range..

In the last 15 years..after that massive gold n silver at 2008…only USA team from tokyo recorded a sub 3.09.00 time for 400 free relay..Dressel, pironi, Baker, Apple..
I think this record will be broken in Patis of LA..most ptobably by USA..
47s low lead off by alexy and very fast matt, jonny, williamson or Guliano will be help for that lowering..

Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

The leadoff would have to be really fast, and the best one for that should be Richards. Whittle is rapidly improving, so if Burras can’t find consistency in the relay, there is a potential substitute. Dean is a reliable 46. splitter, but I am unsure about Scott, and since that 46.06 Lezak split is unlikely to be replicated or neared, everyone apart from the leadoff should be 46., which is similarly unlikely.

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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