MAGHERALIN man Daniel Wiffen continued his rise as one of the world's most promising swimmers as he claimed a second European title, in the third fastest time in history, in the final of the 1500m freestyle at the European Aquatics Short Course Championships in Otopeni, Romania.
The 22-year-old spent the first 1,000 metres under world record pace and eventually came home just outside it in 14:09.11, the third fastest time in history after Germany’s Florian Wellbrock (14:06.88) and Italy’s Gregorio Paltrineiri (14:08.16).
He finished the race an incredible 12 seconds ahead of his closest competitors, David Aubry (14:21.78) of France and Mykhailo Romanchuk (14:22.18) of Ukraine.
It is Wiffen’s second gold medal of the competition, after he won 400m freestyle gold on Tuesday, his time over five seconds faster than his Irish record of 14:14.45.
A delighted Wiffen said: ‘It’s a great time, I knew I was going fast as I took it out fast, and I just wanted to see how long I could hold on, I got to the 500m, and I was really feeling it. It definitely hurt, but I expected to be that fast building on from the 400m title.
''I guess I’m just taking loads of confidence from this and hopefully will bring it back and convert it into long course (50m).’
Adding to the history of the race, Ireland were represented by twins for the first time in a European final as Daniel’s brother Nathan made his debut final. He swam a personal best time of 14:38.75 to finish eighth overall
He said: ''I got to the first 1,000 and thought I’m hurting a bit here, but I’d told my coach I wanted to go out with the pack, because you’ve got to learn to stick with them in the 1500m, because that’s how the race goes, so I’m pretty happy with that.’''
Daniel and Nathan will be back in the pool on Saturday in the heats of the 800m freestyle, an event in which Daniel is the European record-holder.
Danielle Hill put in another fantastic performance in the 50m backstroke semi-final and was just on the Irish record of 26.59 that she had set in the morning’s heats, clocking 26.62, to finish fourth in her heat and sixth overall to progress to Friday's final.
Speaking after the race Hill said, ‘It’s nice to be on the right side of it this time and I can now look forward to the 100m (backstroke heats) tomorrow and carrying a little bit of that speed into it, so yeah I’m excited and I just want to get going again to be honest.’
Hill will be back in action on Friday morning in the heats of the 100m backstroke ahead of the 50m backstroke final in the evening.