Grant Hackett's 15-year world record broken as Daniel Wiffen makes swimming history

The Aussie legend's short-course record in the 800m freestyle is no more.

Daniel Wiffen and Grant Hackett.
Daniel Wiffen broke Grant Hackett's 15-year world record - the longest in swimming. Image: Getty

Daniel Wiffen has become the first person from Ireland to break a swimming world record, taking down Grant Hackett's short-course 800m freestyle mark. The 22-year-old won gold in a time of seven minutes, 20.46 seconds at the European Short Course Swimming Championships in Otopeni, Romania on Sunday.

In doing so he bettered Hackett's previous world record of 7:23.42, which had stood for 15 years. Hackett's mark, which he set at the Victoria Championships on July 20, 2008, was the longest-standing world record in swimming.

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Wiffen, who added a third gold medal of the event after also winning the 400m and 1500m freestyle, paid tribute to Hackett after breaking his record. "I'm a big fan of Grant Hackett. He's my idol swimmer," he told website SwimSwam.

"I text him back and forth on Instagram and he's a really nice guy. That world record was so fast. I was two-and-a-bit seconds off it last year. To go and break it by such a big margin was amazing. It just puts perspective on how fast he was 15 years ago."

Hackett also lost his long-course Australian record when Sam Short won silver in the 800m freestyle at the world championships in July. The 19-year-old swam the fourth-fastest time in the history of the event with a 7:37.76, and eclipsed Hackett's previous mark of 7:38.65 (set in Montreal in 2005).

Daniel Wiffen, pictured here on the podium at the European short-course swimming championships.
Daniel Wiffen poses on the podium at the European short-course swimming championships. (Photo by DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP via Getty Images) (AFP via Getty Images)

Daniel Wiffen stuns swimming world with historic feats

David Aubry of France got the silver medal on Sunday in 7:30.32, while bronze went to Mykhailo Romanchuk of Ukraine in 7:31.20. "It's amazing. I had so many people texting me saying I was going to break the world record," Wiffen told BBC Sport.

"I was trying to keep it under wraps that I was kind of in the shape for it. This morning I felt horrible as well, which is kind of weird. It clearly proves that feeling doesn't really have anything to do with it."

Nathan and Daniel Wiffen.
Nathan and Daniel Wiffen at the European short-course swimming championships. (Photo by Andrea Staccioli/Insidefoto/LightRocket via Getty Images) (Insidefoto via Getty Images)

Wiffen had earlier become the first Irish swimmer to win a gold medal in the history of the European short- course championships. "This is the hardest period of racing," he said. "We had 10 days of racing, including the week before this. I've done four 1500m, three 800m and two 400m - to finish it off in that style just proves my fitness at the moment.

"This time last year I broke the European record 800m. At the world champs I had two fourth places and a European record long course in the 1500m freestyle. Off the back of that I was disappointed with my fourth place. When I got here I was like, 'OK, we need to step up'. No more fourth places, let's get in the medals. I came away with three golds and a world record, it's just amazing."

Wiffen's twin brother Nathan finished eighth in the 800m in 7:39.99. "I'm so proud of me, my family - Nathan as well in this final. We push each other on every day," he said. "I'm so happy to bring this sport to the Irish public. Swimming isn't very big in Ireland, and now it is probably one of the biggest sports ever."

Wiffen admitted he probably wouldn't be able to fly under the radar anymore heading into next year's Olympics in Paris. "I'm maybe going in with a target on my back, I guess, after breaking that world record," he conceded. I'm just going to go with the same attitude I have gone with now. I'll go back to training, I need to work a bit harder on my turns - they were a bit sloppy in my opinion but it's going to be a great season."

with agencies

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