Inside Altitude with Daniel Wiffen, the World’s New #1 in the 1500 Free

2 months before creating a seismic shift in men’s distance swimming, Irish swimmer Daniel Wiffen was training at altitude at the Sierra Nevada camp in Granada, Spain. He came down to race at the Stockholm Open, hitting a 14:34 on Friday to become the 4th-best performer in the history of the event.

Training at altitude (7,000-8,000 ft above sea level) is one of the premier ways to prepare for high-level endurance competition, allowing the body of athletes to adapt to the lower oxygen training environment. This phenomenon is known as ventilatory acclimation, where the body increases its oxygen consumption at high altitudes. When returning to sea level, the athletes will be able to more efficiently use oxygen (Vo2 max), anaerobic efficiency, and as a result, increased race performance. However, the majority of athletes don’t get the opportunity to train at altitude due to financial or time limitations, which begs the question; what’s it like to train at altitude?

Training at the Centro de Alto Rendimiento (CAR) Sierra Nevada in Granada, Spain, Nathan and Daniel Wiffen – members of the Irish national team who train at the University of Loughborough started the first day by recording their health monitoring for the training camp. This is to ensure that their bodies are responding naturally to the altitude and their safety. The twins participated in a longer kicking aerobic set (~8k), followed by a lifting session aimed to increase explosiveness. Following lunch, the pair drove around Sierra Nevada to see the city before returning to the camp. The following day, the duo participated in an 8k rainbow which included descending 300’s, 400’s with race pace 50’s, and a few 250’s at lower effort. The following morning the group participated in a core set followed by a longer descending swim set seen below:

  • 600 swim (200 FR, 100 BK), 4×50 paddles reduce stroke count
  • 600 swim (100k, 200 swim) 8×50 paddles
  • 600 fins
  • 3×400 pull @5:10
  • 4×150 swim (white) @2:05
  • 3×400 pull @5:00
  • 4×150 swim (white) @2:05
  • 3×400 pull @4:50

Nathan noted that he did almost 30K meters more than usual during camp, so towards the end of the camp he began adjusting back down to his normal training volumes. Distance swimmers will commonly increase their total distance during camps at altitude to push the limits of their aerobic and anaerobic performance. Following the previous set, the pair pushed on to a quick lift before their departure the following day.

The twins competed earlier this month at the Irish Open Championships (4/1-4/5), where Daniel won the 400m freestyle and Nathan won the 800m/1500m freestyle and took second to his brother in the 400m.

Currently, Daniel is currently swimming at the 2023 Stockholm Swim Open, where he has thrown down the gauntlet on the Irish record book and the world rankings for this year. Wiffen obliterated his own Irish national record in the 400m freestyle (3:44.35) which ranks him second in the world this year. Earlier today, he fired off an eye-popping 14:34.91, to claim the top time in the world this year by over five seconds, chop nearly 17 seconds off of his personal best – the previous Irish National record – and claim the #4 spot on the all-time ranking list.

The pair train at Loughborough University, as part of The Loughborough Training Group, which is chock full of Olympic-level talent including Felix Auboeck, Louise HanssonAndreas VazaiosMax LitchfieldJoe LitchfieldJames WilbyLuke Greenbank, and Adam Peaty.

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1 year ago

Holy crap! 14:34 🤯

1 year ago

7.44.45 NR in today’s 800m

Reply to  Boknows34
1 year ago

A little bit slower than expected TBH. Still a great swim.

Reply to  liemse
1 year ago


Probably a little tired from the other races, 2 x 400 on Thursday (although 3:49 prelim was probably not all out), 1 x 1500 on Friday, and then the 800 Today.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dan
1 year ago