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Daniel Wiffen believes training alongside Felix Aubock can help him realise his Commonwealth Games medal dream

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Daniel Wiffen has his sights trained on a medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

Daniel Wiffen has his sights trained on a medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

©INPHO/Andrea Staccioli

Daniel Wiffen has his sights trained on a medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

Daniel Wiffen is aiming to make history at the Commonwealth Games — and believes his training partner Felix Aubock will have played a key role if he lands a medal in Birmingham.

World class Wiffen is gunning for some hardware in the 1500m free and is currently ranked second ahead of the Games, with Welshman Daniel Jervis the favourite for gold as he prepares for his third consecutive Commonwealths.

Armagh man Wiffen, based at Loughborough University after being honed at Lisburn, has made substantial progress over the past 18 months — including competing at the Tokyo Olympics, smashing his own Irish records and placing sixth at the World short course championships in December.

Coached at Loughborough by Andi Manley, Wiffen has been thriving in the elite programme and working with World 400m freestyle champion Aubock has clearly made an impact on the 20-year-old, who said: “Training alongside Felix Aubock has been great. He’s obviously faster than me so that makes me push myself to beat him in every session. I see what he’s doing, how he goes about things and I’ve learned from him.

“I had a problem with pacing myself in the 400 free and he was able to show me different ways to do that. He’s very strict on post-recovery and things around that, what he takes in after a race, how he swims down to make sure he is ready for the next race.

“He’s a pretty chilled out guy and away from the pool we don’t talk about swimming too much. It’s important to switch off and, to be honest, at the weekends I have to focus on my studies.

“Things really couldn’t have gone much better for me since going to Loughborough — the way the strength and conditioning is geared to the individual, the work on technique, it has helped me make a lot of progress.

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“To get a medal at the Commonwealth Games is a huge achievement for any Northern Ireland athlete. I’ve seen those images of athletes coming home to be greeted by their families with a medal around their neck — like Bethany Firth — and I want to have that experience.

“My parents have managed to get tickets for the events so it’s going to be great knowing they’re in the stands. I’m going to relish this stage.”

Ahead of the Commonwealth Games, Computer Science undergraduate Wiffen will be shaping up by competing in the 800m and 1500m free at the World long course championships in Budapest next week.

“The goal is to make finals in Budapest — to replicate what I did at the short course championships,” he added.

“I loved that experience and I’m looking forward to competing in Budapest.

“I don’t think I could have got any more out of my training sessions over the past 12 months. I’ve put on three kilos of muscle so I’m feeling stronger than last summer and also after Tokyo I improved my technique.”

Meanwhile, Barry McClements produced another battling performance to finish narrowly outside his Personal Best time in seventh place in the S9 400m Freestyle Final at the World Para Swimming Championships in Madeira.

In a field that included World Champions and World record holder Brendan Hall, it was always going to be difficult for the 20-year-old Bangor racer. However, he battled bravely throughout to touch the wall in 4:28.73.

The race was won by Italian superstar Simone Barlaam, in a new European Record of 4:10.78.

Speaking after the race, McClements said: “The feeling in the water, and sticking to the race plan and things like that, it’s a lot better than it was before.”

He added: “Right now it’s all about getting that experience and, hopefully, by the time I’m in Paris the PBs will come with that.”


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