Daniel and his identical twin brother Nathan started swimming at 3-months old in the local Water Babies sessions, and could often be seen escaping from the changing rooms and crawling towards the water.
They began formal swimming lessons with Cignets Learn to Swim in Lisburn Leisureplex.
Inspiration for competitive swimming came from their big brother Ben who starting swimming at the Grammar Schools gala, after medalling in the final he was asked to join Lurgan Amateur Swimming Club ultimately specialising in the 1500m freestyle and 400 IM.
At 6 years old Daniel and Nathan passed the trial and joined Lurgan Swimming Club where they competed in the Aquasprints league, Armagh Championships (which Daniel won) and multiple Swim Ulster galas.
At 10-years-old both boys moved to Lisburn City Swimming Club where they progressed though coaches such as Stan Sheppard, Richard Gheel and Martin J McGann. It was while they were both swimming with Stan, they qualified and joined the Ulster Squad. As they both progressed Nathan tended to specialise in backstroke whereas Daniel preferred freestyle, both would compete against each other in fly - neither liked breaststroke!
Their first 1500m freestyle was fondly remembered by many officials. during a Swim Ulster qualifying meet; both lined up on the block, they both wobbled, Daniel fell in and was closely followed by Nathan. Unfortunately, Daniel had to be disqualified leaving Nathan to claim the first 1500m freestyle victory. Something that has never happened since! Stan fondly said that Daniel was the only swimmer who he coached in his own lane!
By 13 years old, Daniel had qualified for the Irish squad on the 400m freestyle and was moved into the National Squad in Lisburn City Swimming Club coached by Richard Gheel (Commonwealth Games for NI (1986, 1990 and 1994) and Ireland at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. He also held the 200m and 100m backstroke record for Northern Ireland for 30 years.)
Richard moved on and Martin J McGann was employed as the Head Coach. Under Martin's tutelage and through hard work and determination Daniel began to climb through the rankings in distance swimming ultimately beating the multiple Irish Record holder Andrew Meegan in 2018. Over the next few years Daniel went on to claim the Irish Junior and Senior records in the 1500m and 800m freestyle events.
Daniel has represented Ireland on a number of occasions most notably in Mare Nostrum 2018, Luxembourg (2018), European Junior Championships Kazan (2019) and World Junior Championships, Budapest (2019) and Geneva Open Meet (2020)
Daniel's first senior meet was the European Short Course in Glasgow 2019, where he set a new Irish record for the 1500m freestyle.
December 2019 was a very unsettling time for Daniel and Nathan as they learnt that Lisburn City Swimming Club was in financial difficulties and could no longer afford the Head Coach Martin J McGann.
Fortunately Swim Ireland were able to help and Daniel and Nathan transferred to the National Performance Centre in Dublin, Daniel and Nathan then had to manage school part time to complete their A' Levels in Armagh.
COVID hit in March 2020 where the boys managed to stay swimming in the performance centre until the Olympics was cancelled and the National Aquatic Centre was closed.
During lockdown at home, they continued swimming in a paddling pool with a tether, coached by Martin over Zoom, who had moved to work in Dubai. They also participated in S&C sessions with the Performance Centre and Swim Ireland over Zoom.
They returned for a brief period back to the performance centre and then moved to Loughborough University to study Computer Science, with the swimming programme coached by Andi Manley.
Since his move to Loughborough Daniel has continued his success. At the recent Stockholm Open in 2022 he smashed the Irish record in the 1500m and also the 400m Freestyle with a time of 3:48.75 allowing him to quality for the World championships in Budapest.
In the FINA World Championships in Budapest 2022, Daniel smashed the own 800m freestyle Irish record again with a time of 7:46.32 and finished 8th in the final. Daniel went on to break is own Irish record in the 1500m freestyle and became the first Irishman to go under 15minutes with a time of 14:57.66.
At the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Daniel narrowly missed out on the 400m bronze medal by 0.13s again recording another Irish record breaking time. However, he was not to be denied the medal in the 1500m where he posted a lifetime best of 14:51 and finished in second place claiming the silver medal.
Coming home with a Commonwealth medal!
Great to see family and friends in Birmingham and then back home in Magheralin and Moira
Breaking Records 2022
The 2022-23 season was Daniels best ever swimming season. His racing trajectory jumped up a gear as he propelled himself into the upper echelons of distance swimming.
Short Course Season 2022
Over a number of meets including Berlin Sheffield and the Irish Winter championships Daniels 400m free time dropped 4 times, setting new Irish records each time, finishing with a time of 3:38.40.
The 1500m freestyle was spectacular, dazzling the crowd at the Edinburgh open swim meet in December, Daniel produce a time of 14:14:45, ranking him 1st in the world for 2022 and 6th fastest ever in the event. He even broke his own Irish record in the 800m freestyle in the split, only to break this again the following week at the Irish Winter championships. Daniel also picked up a new Irish record for the 400IM, and event he had not sum for a number of years.
His 800m freestyle was no less spectacular, dropping three times to culminate with a time of 7:25.96 at the Irish open championships in Dublin December 2023 setting a new European Record, only 2.5 sec off the world record. This is the first time an Irish Swimmer has ever set a European Record. This swim was the fastest 800m swim in the world in 2022 and the 4th fastest swim ever in world history.
Daniel also set new BUCS records in the 800m and 1500m SC events and was awarded swimmer of the meet.
Long Course Season 2023
Daniel eased into the long course season with a 15:00.44 in Stockholm (January 2023) and continued to train hard setting new BUCS records in the 800m and 1500m freestyle. He then compete in the Stockholm Open Meet. This was a tough competition where he raced the 400, 800 and 1500m in three consecutive days. Daniel came away with PBs and Irish records in all three events, but his 1500m freestyle singled him out as it was the fastest time produced in 2023. This swim also ranked Daniel 4th fastest in the world ever in this event. Although Wellbrock broke this by 0.02 seconds 2 days later, it suggests the world championships in Japan will be something special.
Life outside swimming
Daniel has a twin brother Nathan, older sister Beth and older brother Ben (who runs Fins Training.) They also have a pet tortoise called Flash.
During their Primary school years they performed in some of the local amateur drama productions through MADS in Lurgan, and also in CITV's Dani's Castle, starring Dani Harmer.
The also performed in Game of Thrones in the famous "Red Wedding Scene" with their sister Beth who played one of Walder Frey's daughters.
Whilst at the Grammar School both Daniel and Nathan performed in The Frankenstein Chronicles starring Sean Bean. This was one of their favourite parts as Daniel had to pretend he had been electrocuted, and Nathan had to wear a full prosthetic arm and lie in a coffin which was dug up from the ground. The is the advantage of being an identical twin as they both paled the same person in the episode.
In January 2019, Daniel and Nathan participated in the School Aid Romania project, where they had to do lots of fund raising including multiple bun sales. They travelled out to Romania with their cases filled with clothing and other items to hand out to the orphanages, old people’s homes and asylums they visited. They were also go shopping every day to buy fresh produce for the vulnerable in the schools using the money they had raised. There were concerns about swimming training as the trials were only 4 weeks away, but the school managed to arrange early morning session at the local pool. Daniel and Nathan thought it felt like altitude training as it was so high up in the local ski resort.
Over the last 6 years Daniel and Nathan have been fortunate enough to visit a number of different places as their Dad, Jonathan, was working in India. They even managed to get some training sessions with the local team in Hyderabad, using the stadium built for the South Asian Games.