Wiffen reaches 800m freestyle Worlds final

Wiffen reaches 800m freestyle Worlds final

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Wiffen in the pool in the 800m freestyle
Wiffen’s time of 7:43.81 was comfortably inside the qualification mark for the Paris Olympics

Daniel Wiffen reached his first World Swimming Championships final as he lowered his own Irish record in the heats of the men’s 800m freestyle.

The Magheralin swimmer was involved in a tough four-way battle throughout the 16 lengths of the Fukuoka pool.

But he edged out American Bobby Finke on the final stroke to win the heat by six-hundredths of a second.

Wiffen’s time of 7:43.81 was comfortably inside the qualification time for the Paris Olympics.

His mark was also just inside the previous national record of 7:44.45 as he moved into Wednesday’s final as the fourth fastest swimmer behind Australia’s Sam Short.

The 19-year-old, who took gold in the 400m freestyle on the first day of the meet on Sunday, was impressive in winning his heat in 7:40.90.

Wiffen has ‘plenty more in the tank’

“It feels great, that’s the number one job done which was to qualify for the Olympics and then to make my way through to the final, so I’ve done both and it was a great race,” said Wiffen.

“My plan going in was to be as easy as possible. I was maybe hoping for a tiny bit faster, but it wasn’t too taxing on the body. I didn’t go to my legs at all, I just wanted to win the race, so I sped up a little but there’s plenty more in the tank.”

Wiffen joins Mona McSharry and Ellen Walshe in qualifying for the Olympics next year and becomes only the fourth Irish swimmer to make a World Long Course Championship final with McSharry set to take part in the women’s 100m breaststroke later on Tuesday.

McSharry also goes into her final as the fourth quickest from the semis behind 2012 London Olympic gold medallist Ruta Meilutyte from Lithuania, 2016 Rio winner and current world record holder Lilly King and Tokyo 200m breaststroke champion Tatjana Schoenmaker from South Africa.

Also in action for Ireland were Victoria Catterson and Darragh Greene.

Catterson, who is concentrating on the 100m freestyle in Japan, was 31st in the 200m freestyle in a time of 2:00.82, just over a second outside her own Irish record of 1:59.86.

Greene swam 27:54 in the 50m breaststroke to finish 22nd place overall.

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