All eyes will be on reigning 1500m Freestyle world champion Daniel Wiffen in the French capital as the 22 year-old aims to become Ireland’s first male Olympic champion in the pool.

It has been a breakout season for the Loughborough-based swimmer who for twenty-four months has been knocking on the door to greater success. Many had expected Wiffen’s breakthrough to come at Fukuoka 2023 when he travelled to the Japanese city with the third fastest entry time for the Men’s 1500m Freestyle.

Image Source: Hiroyuki Nakamura/World Aquatics

The Irishman couldn’t capture his season-best form in that final which saw 17th seed Ahmed Hafnaoui and 5th seed Bobby Finke go head to head over the last two laps to touch within a second of Sun Yang’s world record time from London 2012. Wiffen finished fourth behind Australian Sam Short, and in a race where the Championships Record, African Record, and American Record all fell, Wiffen finished thirteen seconds off the pace.

It wasn’t until December 2023 that Wiffen again popped up as a challenger over the longest event in the pool clocking a new national record and personal best to win gold at the European Short Course Championships. It wasn’t this swim however that was getting all the attention. It was his clean sweep in the 400m, 800m & 1500m Freestyle events, plus taking down Australian Grant Hackett’s 15 year-old World Record in the 800m Freestyle, that again put Wiffen in the discussions to claim a maiden world title at Doha 2024. And at Doha he delivered, powering through the final to touch in a new personal best time and more than ten seconds clear of former 1500m Freestyle world champion Florian Wellbrock in second place.

Image Source: Daniel Wiffen with USA's Claire Curzan with the best male and female swimming trophies for the World Aquatics Championships - Doha 2024 (Hiroyuki Nakamura/World Aquatics)

Wiffen now adjusts his focus to his second Olympic Games and the chance to become Ireland’s first male Olympic gold medallist in the pool. Wiffen will however face an unprecedented challenge over the thirty laps with seven of the nine fastest men of all time potentially lining up in the French capital. Wiffen will also race the 800m Freestyle and 400m Freestyle in Paris, with the only other male on the team, Thomas Fannon, racing the shortest event on the schedule the 50m Freestyle.

Fannon made the Paris team by the barest of margins in a nail-biting race at the Irish National Championships. The 26 year-old needed to hit 21.96 last month to book his Olympics spot - just 0.01 seconds outside his career-best of 21.95. In a sport that often comes down to milliseconds, Fannon did just enough, clocking 21.94 at the Championships to secure his Olympic debut and claim a new national record.

Image Source: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Breaststroker Mona McSharry will aim to continue her strong form from Doha 2024 into Paris having placed fifth in both the 100m Breaststroke and 200m Breaststroke finals in the Qatari capital. The 23 year-old didn’t manage to achieve the strict qualifying time in the 200m event so will only swim the two lap race in Paris.

Completing the Irish team for Paris 2024 are Danielle Hill, who recorded qualifying times in the 50m Freestyle and 100m Backstroke at the National Championships, and Ellen Walshe, who qualified for the 400m Individual Medley at the championships having already secured a start in the 200m Individual Medley.

Image Source: Robert Prezioso/Getty Images

Swim Ireland Performance Director, Jon Rudd, said after the team announcement that he was looking forward to a ‘highly charged and exciting summer for Irish aquatics’.

“After what has arguably been the best five days of domestic swimming racing that this island has seen, we can all feel highly satisfied with where Irish swimming is right now,” said Rudd.

“World Aquatics raised the bar quite considerably after Tokyo as to what it takes to be an Olympian, and we have a group of athletes who responded to this – some making the grade, and some agonisingly close. We have a strong Olympic team.”