Sport

Magheralin’s Nathan Wiffen coasts through as Ireland enjoy successful day at European Aquatics Championships in Belgrade

Shane Ryan and 17-year-old John Shortt qualified for their for respective finals at European Aquatics championships

18 June 2024; Nathan Wiffen of Ireland competes in the Men's 800m Freestyle heats during day two of the 2024 European Aquatics Championships at Belgrade, Serbia. Photo by Nikola Krstic/Sportsfile
18 June 2024; Nathan Wiffen of Ireland competes in the Men's 800m Freestyle heats during day two of the 2024 European Aquatics Championships at Belgrade, Serbia. Photo by Nikola Krstic/Sportsfile (Nikola Krstic / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

Nathan Wiffen broke his own personal best as he coasted through in second place to the 800m Freestyle at the European Aquatics championships in Belgrade.

A time of 7:54.60 on Tuesday morning sees him comfortably into Wednesday evening’s final, something that left the ambitious Magheralin swimmer “pretty happy”:

“I’m feeling very good, not going to lie it was tough with the heat coming out because the last call room is outside so everyone is trying to find the shade. I’m pretty happy with that, I got a personal best and into the final.”

“The first aim is to make the final, and as they say if you’ve got a lane, you’ve got a chance, so hopefully a medal,” he added.

Elsewhere, Clare Cryan performed admirably in the Women’s 1m Springboard Final, although a failed dive on her fourth effort saw her fall out of medal contention in the end.

An impressive score of 46.80 for a forward two and a half somersault would have pleased the Sheffield born diver, and she was in the medals after two rounds.

However, overstepping the mark in the penultimate round saw her hopes dashed as she prematurely entered the water, as Sweden’s Elna Widerstrom grabbed gold with a total score of 250.25.

Her teammate Emilia Nilsson, only 21 years of age, was third, as the Swedes sandwiched Aleksandra Blazowska of Poland in the silver medal position.

In the final of the Men’s 100m Breaststroke, Darragh Greene finished 1.44 seconds off the winning time of 58.84 seconds, set by Melvin Athohame Michael Imodu of Germany. Greene came seventh in a field of eight.

It played out as expected for the Longford man, a Tokyo Olympian, as he had qualified in seventh position from his heat on Monday, after which he said:

“The goal heading into this meet was to get some good metre racing in and there’s no better way of practising your race skills, tactics and execution than racing itself.”

14 February 2024; Daniel Wiffen of Ireland reacts after winning the Men's 800m freestyle final during day four of the World Aquatics Championships 2024 at the Aspire Dome in Doha, Qatar. Photo by Ian MacNicol/Sportsfile
Relentless: Daniel Wiffen of Ireland reacts after winning the Men's 800m freestyle final during day four of the World Aquatics Championships 2024 at the Aspire Dome in Doha, Qatar. Photo by Ian MacNicol/Sportsfile (Ian MacNicol / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

Niamh Coyne also came seventh in the Women’s section, as she finished in a time of 1:09.07, 2.47 seconds off the leader Eneli Jefimova of Estonia.

Jefimova’s time was the fastest of either semi, with Switzerland’s Lisa Mamie topping the pile in the latter race in a time of 1:07.32.

There was better news in the Men’s 100m Freestyle Semi-Final 1, as Shane Ryan advanced to the final, remarkably tying third with Danas Rapsys in an identical time of 49.39 seconds.

Andrej Barna of Serbia claimed first place, although Romania’s David Popovici set the time of the day in the second semi-final, blitzing his way to the showpiece alongside Ryan and Rapsys in just 47.82 seconds.

Ryan, who previously swam for the USA, changed his allegiance and represented Ireland at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, while he claimed bronze in the 2018 European Championships.

In the 200m Backstroke semi-final, 17-year-old John Shortt finsihed in fourth place in a time of 1:58.89 to qualify for the final.

Having qualified in the sixth fastest time amongst the eight competitors, the Galway man pulled clear of his more experienced teammates in a competitive race.

He only narrowly missed out on Olympic qualification - by a single second - in Dublin a month ago.