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Dartes News from 2008

Keep up to date with what's happening at Dartes and elite swimming in Doncaster. This page records the news as it happens -- history in the making!

The Stories behind the Headlines

Swim 21 Accreditation

21 Dec: A while ago we learnt that our Swim 21 application had been successful. Here's how it was reported in Wednesday's Doncaster Star. A huge thank you to Pete Litchfield for all his work towards making this happen and also to Vicky Norman for her support as NER RDO.

Swim-a-long-a-Santa Meet a Christmas Cracker!

DJ Troff and MC Max 7 Dec: The first ever Dartes Christmas meet proved to be an absolute cracker. Lunch time entertainment from DJ Troff and MC Max proved it's not just Rossington who know how to Raise The Roof, as the lights went down and the poolside danced together as one, with bright red balloons floating overhead.

A huge thank you to the army of helpers who made the day such fun. Including Uncle Jim as the (unintentionally) Angry Santa, and how could anyone forget Danny The Christmas Turkey time keeping behind lane 6.

An extra special thanks to the young Dartes athletes who popped over to Beverley for the sole task of helping to run the meet, keep the thirsty officials watered, and to entertain the crowd at lunch time:

There was even time before we closed down the meet for two heats of 400m Freestyle. With the electronics lying around and the Yorkshires fast approaching it seemed an ideal opportunity to provide 16 lucky swimmers with a 400m time trial in true race conditions. The 16 spots were quickly snatched up and some very fast times were recorded too.

Finally, a tired farewell to all our guests, we hope you'll join us again at our next meet (watch this space). Have yourselves a very Merry Christmas, but go easy on the Helium Uncle Jim! Ho ho ho ...

Medals Galore at North East Region Short Course Championships

29/30 Nov: Earlier this month, the NER Senior/Junior Championships were held at the brand new Freeman's Quay Leisure Centre in Durham. Last weekend the NER travelled to the region's other brand new pool, the Sunderland Aquatic Centre, for the Bagcat Age-Group Championships.

Richard Lee During two days of action, the region witnessed a small Dartes squad demonstrate the resurgence of Doncaster Swimming. So strong was the team's performance that South Yorkshire's top coach Russ Barber (City of Sheffield) commented to Dartes team manager Peter Litchfield, about how well the Dartes swimmers were looking, and how they were looking technically better than they've looked for years. Praise indeed!

Leading the Dartes charge was double Gold medal winning Richard Lee (Spa). Rumour has it that Speedo fitted him with their latest Hi-Tech swim suit specially for this meet. They disguised it as a 4 year old's suit, but no one was fooled.

His prize for such top class performances, besides the 2 Gold medals hanging around his neck, is the honour of writing the weekend's report. Here it is:

Sunderland Aquatic Centre Wow, what a weekend!! 12 Dartes swimmers, 16 medals, my first ever medals at the Bagcats, and a fabulous new pool in Sunderland.

From start to finish this seemed to be the weekend to be a Dartes swimmer. Andy has certainly been on top form with his coaching and it is now paying off with times in the pool. Almost every swim by the squad over the weekend resulted in a PB.

First up for me was the 100m Free on Saturday morning. We had left our hotel in South Shields at 7.15 on a freezing cold morning to be at the pool in time for the warm-up at 8. We then had to wait about 2 hours to swim after the 1500m Free, boys 200m Breast and girls 100m Breast. Dartes didn't have a swimmer until the girls 100m Breast when Sophie Taylor (Arm) was her usual dominant self coming away with an easy gold. "Mikie" Taylor is going to take some beating on that stroke this season and as if to demonstrate that, she made it a double with Gold in the 200m on Sunday.

Jarvis Parkinson (Tho) and Joe Litchfield (Spa) had started the 100m Free really well, ending up with a silver and bronze -- it looked right from the start as though this could be a successful weekend. Me, Max Litchfield (Spa), and Elliot Trofimowicz (Spa) were going head to head for a sub-60 time in the same event. Going into the weekend, Elliott was the only one who had gone sub-60 (at the Yorkshires in October). Unfortunately he had been ill all week but still swam brilliantly to get 59.9. If he had been 100% I think it could have been a Dartes 1,2,3 (don't know when that last happened). When I finished I looked up at the scoreboard, 58.38, and then at mum and dad. Dad was going absolutely barmy because I'd gone sub 60sec for the first time but didn't realise that I'd won until Pete told him. It was a fantastic PB for Max as well, 58.88, to finish third. We now have 3 thirteen year olds under 60 seconds. I can't wait for the Yorkshire team event. Hopefully Nik and Keagan will have gone sub-60 by then too and it would be nice for us to go into that with the whole team confident of really fast times.

Next up was the 200m IM with every Dartes swimmer getting a PB. Max went one better by getting a Silver to add to his enormous pile of medals.

Going into the afternoon saw Heidi Smith's (Ros) first swim of the weekend in the 200m Backstroke. Back in June she made her NER debut and came 30th in this event (long course). It just goes to show what 6 months of hard Dartes training can do for you, today she swam 15sec faster to take the Bronze medal!

I only had the 100m Back in this 2nd session. Once again Max got a superb Silver, only being beaten by Matthew Johnson (City of Leeds). It was the one swim of the weekend where I failed to get a PB.

Sunday morning saw us back at the pool, but this time an hour later. No point being at the warm-up for the 800m Free when we could warm-up continuously in the swim-down pool.

After Sophie got her gold in the 200m Breast, the next event was the boys 100m Breast. I had five races today and was not expecting a great deal. If I could get a PB then I would be happy.

And so to the 100m Breast. I couldn't swim a decent time at all last year on Breaststroke, but since October things seem to be falling into place, and once again I got a 3 second PB. Dad thought I might even have got a Bronze! It turned out to be yet another Gold on its way to Doncaster, although this time it was a joint Gold with Philip Foster-Dennison from Skipton getting exactly the same time!

Next came the 200m Free. Jarvis made a fantastic start and was leading by a mile after 150 metres. Unfortunately he had miscounted and thought that he had finished. He only started swimming again once everybody else had turned to do 2 more lengths. He won't do that again!!

400m IM finished off the morning's swimming. Nik Grainger (Spa) did a fantastic 5.08, I don't know how fast he could have swum if he hadn't experimented for the first 50m of Fly. Once again Max did an unbelievable 4.55 to take yet another Silver behind the unbeatable Mattie Johnson.

In the afternoon came the grudge match between Rachel Grainger (Spa) and Emily Shone in the 100m Backstroke. They had to swim-off for the last place in the final at the Winter Yorkshires which Emily just won. As luck would have it they were now drawn next to each other and it was pretty close all the way. Rachel really kicked hard on the final length to beat Emily and give probably the biggest grin of the weekend.

Next for me came the 100m Fly. I went into this not expecting too much, but a 1.04 knocked 3 seconds off my PB and gained a silver medal. By this time I think mum and dad were in dreamland. Dad and Jez had both lost their voices by this time.

The final event was the 400m Free. By this time I think everyone was shattered and just about ready for home.

All in all what a fantastic weekend, both for me and Dartes as a whole!

But the best thing?
Being surrounded by my best mates all weekend.

A swimmer's eye view of the NER Champs by Richard Lee.

Hill House School in Action Again

22 Nov: Independent Schools Association National Finals, Coventry Nov 22nd 2008

Following the Northern qualifying round in Liverpool a couple of months ago, the following Hill House swimmers were selected to represent "The North" in the ISA finals against six other regions. The Girls from Hill House School

Caroline did not attend due to a prior basketball selection.

No one seems to know where exactly "The North" is, but you can safely assume it lies somewhere between East Anglia, and The Midlands! Following the short course qualifying round, some swimmers were a little surprised to find a long course final, but not the Hill House swimmers! Unfazed, they returned with 4 golds, 6 silvers, 3 bronzes, and no less than 3 national records, and 3 individual National Titles.

Molly gained 2 individual golds (back and fly) while taking the record in the back in a time of 33.81. Molly also swam in the year 7 IM team, which took bronze. Molly's year 8 team mate, Emily Scott, waited patiently for her one event in the year 8 free team. She definitely made it worth the four hour wait. Emily swam the second leg, and took her team from third to first place (split 32.31), which they then managed to hang onto for the gold medals, and taking the championship record with them.

The other individual gold went to Matthew in 50 backstroke in a time of 36.53 to take the record and title. Matthew also swam in the year 7 IM and free teams gaining a silver and bronze there too.

The loudest clanging came from the neck of Hannah Hirst who came home with no less than 4 silver medals. These came from individuals in 100 breaststroke and 50 Butterfly, plus 2 team swims in the combined year 9/10 (under 16).

Special mention should also go to George Marsh, swimming Long Course for the first time. Undaunted, he placed fourth in the year 7 50m breaststroke and also swam in the teams to gain a silver and bronze, which clearly now makes him a Long Course veteran.

Overall, The North team was runner-up to The Midlands in both the girls and boys trophies.

Another pool deck report by our schools correspondent Julie Hirst.

More Coach and Volunteer Education

18 Nov: Last night, coaches from Dartes and Armthorpe attended the "A Club for All" Equity in Sport seminar. The evening was hosted by the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

Representing Dartes were Head Coach Andrew Wallace and John Smith. Joining them from Armthorpe were Head Coach Kev Frost and Mandy Briggs.

The Importance of Fly Kick

17 Nov: Last Friday the guys at University of Texas "The Longhorns" had a fun session of fast swimming.

As if you were in any doubt about the importance of developing a powerful fly kick, we let Hill Taylor demonstrate what backstroke used to look like before the 15m start rule was introduced.

Yes, that is a 25yrd pool the same as Hall Cross, and yes, that was a 50yrd split of 22.7 and a full 100yrd Backstroke in 47.2!

Rebecca Milnes: Her Decade at Dartes!

15 Nov: A week or so ago Rebecca Milnes (SAS) offered to write a short article for the website describing the changes she's seen at Dartes during the decade she's been here. How could we turn her down?

Bex Milnes For those who don't know Bex, she was the first Dartes girl to qualify for Nationals at an event greater than 100m for 4 or 5 years (800m Fc in 2001). Since then she has gone on to become a regular member of the GB triathlon team and even managed to win a Gold medal at the ITU World Championships last year. That's right, she is a World Champion (in her age group at least)!

Yet when she arrived at Dartes all those years ago, Rebecca looked spectacularly average. Her biggest talent then, as now: a work ethic second to none!

Which just goes to prove, if you want something hard enough, and you're prepared to do the work that's necessary, any one of you can achieve your goals too!

Here's what she had to say:

Hi my name is Bex Milnes. I have been swimming with Dartes for the past 9 years, and although I am currently based in Birmingham I still make the odd Saturday morning session when I am up visiting family.

I managed to get down to Adwick a few weeks ago for one of the legendary Saturday morning sessions and whilst following the blue line up and down the pool trying to keep up with the young whipper snappers, I found myself thinking about my first experiences of Dartes and how things have changed over the years.

I first started at Dartes because my feeder club coach Sue Finney (at South Axholme Sharks) somehow saw a glimpse of potential. She decided that the best way to help me progress in swimming was to get myself to Dartes where I would be coached by some of the best coaches in Doncaster and be among the elite swimmers in the area.

Mick and his hat My first session was a Saturday morning swim at Hall Cross pool. I remember being in the changing rooms and hearing the highly motivational tones of Mick Gartside saying something along the lines of:

"Hurry up you great baboons and get yourself onto the poolside"

My first session was coached by Malcolm Morling. He was a perfectionist on technique, which was exactly what I needed as I was the kind of swimmer that just got in and didn't really think about anything apart from keeping on the persons feet in front of me. Little did I know that this first session marked the beginning of a fantastic life changing experience for both me and my parents who would, in years to come, find themselves getting up at 4am, 3 mornings a week to take me training.

Happy days!

During my first year in Dartes I found myself progressing quite quickly and got moved up from Malc's lane to be coached by Mick Gartside and Dave Cuthbert, who soon discovered I had a bit of an aptitude for the endurance side of things and decided to exploit that. I did my first 800m Free at Leeds during the 2001 Yorkshires and found that I was only a few seconds off my National time. We worked really hard for the next few months and the next 800m I did I managed to get my first and only NQT (National Qualifying Time).

At the time I didn't really understand what this meant. All I remember was being put in the top lane with the likes of Helen Walker, Leanne Stacey, Andrew Butterfield and Alistair Davis, and being told to keep on their feet for as long as possible. We did some killer sets and only years later would I understand what an achievement it was to gain NQT in my first year of serious swimming. I feel this is a great testament to what Dartes has consistently provided for Doncaster's swimmers over the years.

I feel a great strength of Dartes is the commitment of its coaches. If you talk to any athlete performing at a decent level they will always tell you that consistency is the key. This is something that the likes of Mick Gartside, Dave Cuthbert, Andy Wallace and Derick Fretwell have provided throughout my time at Dartes, and continue to do at both Dartes and the feeder clubs in the area.

One of the biggest influences in my swimming career is Mick Gartside. For those newcomers to Dartes, Mick was the coach before Roy Shepherdson's brief tenure. I'll never forget morning training during Mick's years, it looked a whole lot different to what it does now.

We swam two mornings a week at Hall Cross, and swimmer participation consisted of Katie Johnson and me. If you look at Dartes now you can see the drastic developments that have taken place. We now have 5 mornings a week, 5 evening swims and 5 conditioning sessions. The conditioning sessions too have changed, they're a whole lot different to running around Town Fields with Mick chasing the stragglers with a stick!

Roy Explaining Things These huge changes occurred when Roy Sherperdson took over as Head Coach. Although he is no longer involved in the club I would argue that he was one of the best things to happen to Dartes. Not only did he create the perfect environment to enable swimmers to get the very best out of themselves, but he also introduced a sense of discipline throughout the lanes which was enough to make even the most rebellious of swimmers pay attention.

Perhaps the best thing Roy achieved though, was to introduce the club to the fantastic coaching ability of Andy Wallace. Andy started off as Roy's right hand man. Then with Roy's departure, Andy had the mammoth task of salvaging a group of devastated swimmers, continuing the club's development which Roy had started, and proving himself to a group of very unhappy and disillusioned parents.

If you ask me, Andy has managed to do this and so much more. When I was swimming on that recent Saturday morning session, this was so clear to see. He has put together a fantastic group of coaches dedicated to helping the club succeed. He has a great relationship with his swimmers and their parents, and you can see he has the complete respect of everyone involved with the club. On top of all that, he is always willing to expand his knowledge about swimming to enable his swimmers to gain that extra edge.

Bex Cycling in Morzine 2008 My reason for writing this article was not to highlight my personal achievements within the club. It was to help you see the huge progressions that Dartes has made over the past 9 years. I hope that speaking as an outsider who has the privilege of training within this set up, I have enabled both swimmers and parents to see the huge advantages training at Dartes can provide. As someone who has trained with elite clubs both all over the UK and in Australia, and across a number of different sports, I've found very few that can challenge Dartes in terms of the quality and availabilty of training and the dedication of its coaches. To anyone who wants to get the best out of themselves, it's right there, handed to you right on a plate. The rest is down to you!

Happy Training :-)

Ex-Dartes Girls in Swimming Times

15 Nov: Former Dartes national team members Enya Booth (Spa) and Molly Grayson (Arm) feature in the Swimming Times "Team To Beat" article this month.

They made up half of the City of Leeds team that won the 4x200m Freestyle at Nationals this year. Congratulations girls, we're still proud of you.

Max Heads to Barcelona

Max Litchfield 9 Nov: Max has been invited to swim in the Yorkshire SA Overseas Training Camp from 15th - 19th February 2009 as a consequence of his results at the ASA National Age Group Championships in July this year. He qualified for four events and finaled in the 400IM.

This is a short, very intensive training camp and not a holiday. Max will swim with the best in Yorkshire for four hours every day plus land work for each of the four days.

I am sure the weather will be much better than ours in February in the 50m outdoor pool in Barcelona. Enjoy it Max, you deserve it for all the hard work you have put in this year since your injury!

Peter Litchfield, Dartes Team Manager.

Saturday Morning Training

8 Nov: It's stupidly early on a Saturday morning. The sky is pitch black. The only light is provided by street lighting. Not a single house is stirring. Gemma takes a nap at Leeds International Pool It's your first ever Saturday morning training session, and your parents are driving you down a deserted road leading to an unfamiliar leisure centre. In the darkness everything looks eerie, quiet, and very different. As you rub the sleep out of your eyes trying to stay awake, you catch yourself thinking:
"Surely this is wrong, no one else will be training at 6am! We must have read the time wrong".

You turn the corner into the car park. Suddenly you see the lights in the leisure centre, someone must be here afterall. Then you enter the car park and to your astonishment 3 full rows are packed with cars (about 8 per row) under the bright security lights. You thought you were going to be early, it's only just turned quarter to but it appears everyone is inside already.

As you jump out of the car blaming your parents for their late arrival, you recognise another car pulling up at the side of you. It's the Graingers! In a mad panic you realise how late you must be and sprint into the changing rooms to get ready, expecting to find everyone already swimming.

It's a sure sign that something very special is starting to happen within a swim squad when large numbers of athletes arrive in time to stretch and warm up properly on deck before early morning training. Saturday may be a lie in for most elite swimmers, 6am is a lazy start afterall, but it still takes dedication and commitment to drag your body out to the pool deck to start warming up. To see 30+ swimmers on deck at 5.50am, laughing and joking as they work through their stretching routines while the pool is being set up, is a very impressive sight and the mark of a truly elite training programme.

For anyone reading this who might be new to elite level swimming, have a read of The Journey of the Swimmer. Saturday morning speed work It's a first hand account by a young American athlete as part of her English coursework. It provides an excellent glimpse into the world of performance swimming.

30+ swimmers at an early morning practice is one thing. When you realise that Saturday mornings last about 3 hours, that starts to sound even more special. 2 hours of tough speed work followed by an hour of land training before breakfast is enough to leave most teenagers flat on their backs for the rest of the weekend.

Not here!
Not at Dartes!

Today, one of our bigger clubs Armthorpe, hold their annual Schofield Championships. Tomorrow, Armthorpe and Spa Askern travel to Hull in their final encounter of the Pocklington Times League. Many of those training this morning will also be contesting those events.

For many Dartes swimmers then, Saturday morning is nothing more than the warm up to a busy weekend. A morning of diving off the blocks into freezing cold water (the boilers have been off all night); followed by intricate technique work performed to perfection; and a bunch of dry land, core strength exercises, the likes of which few people have ever seen. That's got to be better than sleeping in till 10, right?

This is what Saturday mornings were made for!

ESSA Division 3, Team Championships

7 Nov: Friday 7th November saw several teams from the Doncaster area competing at Huddersfield for qualification to the National Finals in Gloucester on 7th February next year. Many of the teams included Dartes or ex-Dartes swimmers.

Hallcross and Hill House featured strongly, with teams from Hayfield School also taking place. Matthew and Friend Hill House junior boys struggled without regular team member (and ex-Dartes swimmer) Willem Thomson (Arm). The team of Matthew Hirst (SAS) John Gibson (Thorne) George Marsh (Thorne) and Harry Green (unattached) only managed 11th in the IM and 10th in the 4x50m Freestyle. Hallcross finished 9th in the IM and a good 6th in the Freestyle event. In the same events Hayfield School came 15th in the Freestyle team and were disqualified in the IM along with 4 other teams! Many apologies to Hayfield and Hallcross for not having the team list.

Bizarrely, a Dartes hat was seen amongst the Hayfield swimmers. It was later identified as brother of Dartes swimmer Heidi Smith who had forgotten his own hat.

Doncaster's stars of the day were Hill House junior girls, who won both their events narrowly missing the Championship record in the freestyle relay. The school has many talented swimmers in this age group and swam two teams in both events. Quite an achievement for a small school without a pool. Unofficial splits taken from the stands were:

Molly Grayson (Arm)33.01 Holly30.81
Holly Lewis (SAS) 37.47 Caroline32.25
Hannah Hirst (SAS) 33.34 Emily Scott (SAS)32.53
Caroline Keane (Arm)33.34 Molly29.42
(2:17.16) Official time 2:15.49 (2:05.01) Official time 2:05.20
Emily's B Team split unavailable Hannah's B Team split: 31.10

In the same junior girls events, Hill House B were 10th (free) and 15th (IM) with Hayfield 19th (free) and 16th (IM). Hill House Junior Girls Team Sadly, the Hallcross team which included Laura Hirst (Edl) and Sophie Taylor (Arm) was DQ'd in both events. The strong Hallcross team may even have taken first in the IM, with a close second in the free to Hill House.

With the opportunity for the 16th fastest teams from all the divisions going through to the national finals, what a shame that Doncaster may have had two schools represented. Probably the last time this happened was 1984 in Farnborough, when Hallcross (then Doncaster Grammar) and Edlington Comprehensive took teams to national level. Take a look at the certificates on the wall at Hall Cross School.

Other mention should go to Emma Humphreys (Ros) swimming for Hallcross Intermediate girls (10th free, 9th IM) and Heidi Smith (Ros) in Hayfields junior girls team.

Results are available from the ESSA Swimming website.

Our pool side reporter for this event was Julie Hirst.

North East Short Course

Freeman's Quay 1 Nov: Dartes took a small team to the ASANER short course championships on the 1st/2nd November at the newly built Freeman's Quay Leisure Centre. A venue with an 8 lane deck level pool, and although the spectator gallery was small the atmosphere was buzzing. A swim down facility was available but it was slightly cramped at approx 10-15m in length.

The weekend started with an outstanding swim from the man with the tan Daniel Warrener (Arm). Following on from his week long intensive training camp with the ASSE programme in Cyprus with Colin Stripe (coach of GB Olympian Fran Halsall), Danny brought the positives from the experience with him and lead from the start in his 100m Fr. Recording a split of 25.80 and leaving the rest of the swimmers in his seeded heat trailing behind. In only his first meet of the season, the final result proved a special one with a time of 53.57 earning him 4th for the final and qualifying him for 2009 Nationals into the bargain! Also swimming in this event was Niall Wainwright (Spa) with a 56.89.

The next event to note was the Womens 200m Fr where Sophie Coy (Adw) produced a fantastic 2:15.69 with a solid swim through the first 100. She then pushed through the last 50 to record her first PB of the weekend. Also in this event were Laura Hirst (Edl) and the two South Axholme girls Victoria Swinbourne (SAS) and Alison Pennel (SAS).

Next up was the 50m Br in which Niall Wainwright finished a respectable 12th in a time of 33.04 looking strong on the swim and able to easily stay with the other competitors in his heat.

The Womens 100m Fly proved to be a close encounter for 3 of the Dartes girls: Sophie Coy 1:09.88, Emma Humphreys (Ros) 1:10.20 and Katie Lindop (Spa) 1:10.20. But it was Cherelle McPherson (Adw) that stole the show with another fine performance following on from her success at the DMASA champs. She produced a controlled and powerful performance, especially from the starts and turns, eventually finishing in 1:07.76 and making it through to the final.

With the adrenline from the 100m Fr still running through his veins, Daniel Warrener next attempted the 400m Fr. He started well again, going out ahead of his rivals and looking strong, but the event proved to be a tough one for the experienced swimmer and he struggled through the middle section of the race before producing a final surge to the end in the last 50.

In the Women's 50m Fr Alison Pennel proved the student life is not affecting her obvious talent as she produced an outstanding 28.89 after a trademark strong last 25m.

The Dartes Women's 400 Free team consisting of Alison Pennel (1:00.36) Cherelle McPherson (1:01.52) Sophie Coy (1:02.66) and Victoria Swinbourne (1:03.94) combined for some well paced swims and efficient takeovers to finish 8th in a time of 4:09.48.

Report by Head Coach Andrew Wallace.

Huge PBs at Harrogate

26 & 27 Oct: The weekend also saw a small Dartes team travel to Harrogate for their Junior Open Meet. Stand out swimmers were 'The Graingers'. The double act of Rachel (Spa) and Nicholas (Spa) continued their PB busting form from Winter Yorkshires. Rachel: 5sec PB on 200m Freestyle and 10sec PB on 400m Freestyle; Nic: 18sec PB on 200m Breastroke and 7secs on 200IM. Outstanding progress, well done!

While older brother Max was away competing at ESSA, Joe Litchfield (Spa) took on the family tradition of showing everyone how to perform starts and turns. Joe took Gold in the 50m Backstroke and Bronze in the 200m.

Other medals were won by:

Just outside the medals Heidi Smith (Ros) looked awesome during her 200m Backstroke and recorded a bunch of excellent times throughout the weekend. Holly Lewis (SAS) recorded a 4sec PB on the 200m Freestyle, prompting coach Wallace to state: "[she] looked really strong".

In all, 7 swimmers finished just outside the medals in 4th place. Excellent results from such a small team with many of the big names competing elsewhere.

A more detailed review of Saturday's session by a guest contributor follows ...

Harrogate Junior Open by Martyn Rushton

26 Oct, Saturday at Harrogate:
Despite a fixture clash between ESSA Schools Nationals, SAS' Hallowe'en open meet and a local league gala, Dartes still took a small team to the Harrogate Junior Open Meet. A team of just 9 waved the Dartes flag proudly, with head coach Andy Wallace leading the way.

Joe Litchfield Joe Litchfield (Spa) was the first to take the pressure in his challenging 200m Bc. He recorded an astonishing time of 2:49.84 and won a well deserved Bronze medal. His next event was 400m Fc recording another great PB with a time of 5:35.13. Demonstrating very consistent pacing, he managed to keep most of his 50m splits at around 44 seconds. However, with just 50m to go, he saw the swimmer 10m ahead of him and gave it every ounce of energy he had left on his way to splitting an astonishing 36.14. Borough of Barnsley Coach Nick Mills was over heard muttering "he's swimming like a mad man", and that's about right.

Joe's busy day saw him also swimming the 50m Fly (35.75, 2nd), 200m Br (3:29.64, 13th), 50m Bc (36.67, 1st) and finally 200m IM (2:55.64, 4th).

Next to swim were Leah Rushton (Spa), Fern Brooks (Spa), and Holly Lewis (SAS), in their 50m Br. Leah came 20th of the 11 year age group with a time of 47.30. Holly came 5th of the 12 years age with a time of 39.89 and Fern came 11th of the 13 years age group with a time of 42.14. Holly and Fern were joined by Rachel Grainger (Spa), in the 200m Fc with all recording great times: Holly 2:21.11; Rachel 2:23.22; and Fern 2:24.32.

Leah, Holly and Fern also competed in the 100m Fc with Leah getting a 1:16.38, 26th; Holly getting a 1:06.70, 5th; and Fern getting a 1:08.22, 11th. Also Leah competed in the 200m Fly getting a time of 3:14.74, 10th. And Rachel competed in the 400m IM getting a 5:48.12, 9th.

Martyn Rushton Coming out for the 11/14 year old boys there were 2 premier squad swimmers and 2 potential premier squad swimmers. With Nick Grainger (Spa) not swimming the 50m Br it was down to Martyn Rushton (Spa), Elliot Trofimowicz (Spa), and Keagan Guest (Tho) to open the score for the older boys. Amazingly they were all in the same heat, with Elliot in lane 2, Keagan in lane 3 and Martyn in lane 6. The head to head battle was fought all the way down the pool. Finishing Keagan (38.26), Martyn (38.35) and Elliot (38.63).

The next 11/14 year boys race was the 200m Fly with only Martyn competing. His debut in this event, Martyn allowed its reputation to affect his performance, touching the pads in a disappointing 3:00.92 that would go on to haunt the rest of his weekend [Ed: There's much more to come from Martyn's 200m Fly next time, watch this space].

The last event of the morning saw Nick get his first go in the 11/14 boys 200m Fc. After getting his sub-minute at the Yorkshires over the 100m, Elliot was expected to be the man to watch in this event, but 2:18.23 was all he managed to pull out of the hat. The first swim of his day Nick dug deep and pulled out a 2:15.75. Keagan came in at 2:23.38 and Martyn, still affected by his poor 200m Fly swim, managed a respectable 2:21.34.

The swim of the day has to go to Nick in his 400m IM, fighting his way to 5:15.12 with an awesome comeback on his breaststroke and Freestyle to give him 3rd in his age group.

27 Oct, Sunday at Harrogate:
Luckily for the swimmers, the clocks went back on Saturday night so they got an hour extra sleep. This brought them out refreshed and determined. The team changed a bit on Sunday due to commitments elsewhere.

Heidi Smith Despite representing Spa Askern in their Pocklington Times League fixture in the afternoon, Fern still came to race the 400m Freestyle in the morning. Also, Heidi Smith (Ros) joined us for the 11 year girls.

The pool greeted Rachel, Holly and Fern first for their 400m freestyle. Fern, here for just a quick splash, did just that, recording a time of 5:00.58 which shows just how the training is working for her. Holly also got a great time of 5:01.86, and Rachel earned 4th place, just outside the medals, with a time of 4:55.71.

With neither Holly nor Rachel doing the 50m freestyle, all was left for young Heidi Smith and her debut swim of the weekend - and what a swim it was! Stopping the clock at 33.26.

The three then went head to head in the 200m backstroke. Heidi set a great time of 2:43.68 to push her into 4th; Holly swam 2:42.30, 8th; and Rachel recorded 2:43.34, 10th.

Swimming alone again, Nick Grainger grasped the 400m with open arms and just like his sister, came 4th, just outside the medals with a time of 4:38.10.

With the Absence of Martyn and Elliot, Keagan was left on his own as well in his 50m Fc, grabbing a time of 28.97 and coming 9th in his age group. Keagan's injuries stop him competing in the 200m IM, so Nick was left to fight for himself. Once again he overcame the challenge getting a time of 2:31.64, coming just outside the medals with another 4th place.

Nic Grainger Coming together for one last time the boys took on the 200m Br. Both had another good swim, with Keagan getting a 3:04.76 and Nick getting a 2:52.51.

Summary of the weekend (what has been learnt).
Training is a vital part of stamina, speed and flexibility.
It takes the right attitude to get the right results.
"If you think you can do something, or you think you can't do something, you're right"
The coach is always right.
Harrogate has a warm pool.
Harry the Harrogate hippo says no diving.
Harry the Harrogate hippo looks a bit camp.
Doing bad in 200m Fly results in writing a report on the entire weekend.
Andy is Amazing.
Dave looks like he's been in prison.

Report written by Martyn Rushton, Age group squad, A.K.A The carrot.

5 Fly Flag at ESSA Nationals

Yorkshire (Division 3) at ESSA 26 Oct: In a busy weekend of fast swimming, 5 Dartes swimmers represented Yorkshire (Division 3) at the ESSA National Championships held at Enfield. Representing the mighty division three were:

Max also helped Division 3 to 2nd place in the Medley team. The only team to beat them was the South West (Division 5) which includes two of the country's most successful age group programmes: Plymouth Leander and Millfield. Richard joined Max in the Freestyle team which finished 5th.

Overall, Yorkshire (Division 3) finished 8th out of 12 teams.

Well done to everyone involved, with a special mention to Dartes' Division 3 Team Manager Pete Litchfield, who seemed to be at every meet up and down the country this weekend.

Gold for Sophie, Bronze for Joe

12 Oct: Another day of strong performances at the Winter Yorkshires saw Sophie Taylor (Arm) dominate on her way to another Br Gold, while Joe Litchfield (Spa) picked up another medal (Bronze) in the 50m Bc.

Elsewhere though, it was all about recording PBs, and the huge improvements witnessed yesterday continued unabated. Highlights included: Luke Shpylka (SAS) swimming a well paced 100m Fc for a 3sec drop; James Mullen (Arm) hitting another PB on his road back to form; and Hannah Hirst (SAS) pushing for 3rd place in the 100 Br until being edged out into 4th down the last 25m.

Also in the 100m Fc, Elliot Trofimowicz (Spa) dropped under the magical 1min mark for the first time -- congratulations!

In a weekend of big improvements, it looked like the biggest of all would come from Nic Grainger (Spa) in the 200m IM. Unfortunately, his 10sec drop was accompanied by small movements at the start, earning him a disappointing DQ.

All told, Dartes enjoyed some massive best times in what was essentially a training meet (mid-cycle, no taper). Focus was on transferring skills being developed in the training pool into the race pool, and on the whole a great job was done. Of particular note, Dartes' swimmers once again led the way with the quality of their underwater starts, although more attention needs to be paid to the turns.

A great job, well done.

Yorkshire Gold for Jarvis, Silver for Joe

11 Oct: It looked to be on the cards at the Mets last weekend and today it happened. The two 10 year old boys, Jarvis Parkinson (Tho) and Joe Litchfield (Spa) came away from Winter Yorkshires with a medal each; Jarvis the Gold for 50m Fc, and Joe the Silver for 200IM. Could their medal tally increase on day two?

In the 13 years Bc, Max Litchfield (Spa) recorded another pair of PBs on the way to claiming Bronze. The other boys in the Bc recorded big PBs too, well done to all of you. Special mention must go to James Mullen (Arm) for pulling an awesome 100m out of the bag to mark his return to form, and Nick Grainger (Spa) who suddenly learned how to do 8m turns on the way to another huge PB.

Overall, the squad performed extremely well. Shannon Dodson (Spa) and Heidi Smith (Ros) battled hard in the final of the 100m Bc recording more PBs, but just missing out on the medals.

The ever present Laura Hirst (Edl) reached both of her finals and swam solidly in both, and Richard Lee (Spa) continued his run of improvements by joining Max in both Bc and Fly finals.

The prize for drama of the day unfortunately goes to the poor diver who was rushed to hospital on a spinal board. But the swimming produced its own nail biting action too. Our very own Rachel Grainger (Spa) swam a superb PB in the 100m Bc, only to be awarded the dubious prize of a swim off against a former Rotherham Metro team mate. Despite catching her on every turn, she just missed out on 10th spot in the final.

Stay tuned for day 2 ...

Head Coach Reviews Land Work

7 Oct: In an interview for the club newsletter, head coach Andy Wallace talks about the revised land training programme. As an added bonus we've linked in a University of Tennessee Swimming promo video showing their elite squad performing many of the same strength building exercises.

Coach Wallace: "As most of you are already aware the land training within the DARTES age group/ youth and premier squads has been up and running since the start of the new season and has been a great success. The available sessions have been really well attended and the quality of the work produced is begining to rise at a rapid rate.

"The main reasons for the land work provided at DARTES is to complement the swimming training through developing core strength and stability allowing swimmers to maintain more efficient body position and control of the movements they perform on all strokes; including starts and turns. Also to provide swimmers with the knowledge of the injury provention techniques that will enable them to reduce the amount of training time lost due to the avoidable excessive stresses and strains that are placed upon the body due to the high physical demands of the sport.

"Land work is a vital training aspect in the long term development of athletes and their progression towards a successful swimming career. Hopefully this work will provide the benefits expected and the swimmers will improve in all areas of their swimming performance.

"Keep up the good work and lets continue to raise the bar."

10th Anniversary Make Over

4 Oct: You've heard the rumours, now see for yourself. Over the next few weeks the whole website will receive a make over to mark the 10th anniversary of the Dartes website.

In April of 1998 Dartes led the way as one of the first UK swim clubs with its own website. Then we raised the bar once more 2 years later with the arrival of what we believe to be only the second, online, performance tracking database anywhere in the world! It's currently being dusted off, and will make its return shortly.

But that's not all. Keep your eyes on this website for news of how Dartes will push the bar even higher still ...

5 Go To ESSA Nationals

28 Sep: Eleven Dartes swimmers represented their individual schools at this year's ESSA Yorkshire Trials. There was a solid display by all who took part and five swimmers have been selected to represent Division 3 at the 58th English Schools' National Championships.

The Championships will be held on 24th and 25th October at Enfield.

Selected to represent Division 3 were:

Also, a special mention to those who just missed out:

More Coach Education

26 Sep: In Dartes' continued effort to improve the quality of Doncaster's elite swim programme, 4 of our coaches will attend child protection courses in Rotherham over the coming month. Already this season (just 1 month old) Dartes coaches have amassed 6 ASA CPD points and have taken part in stroke clinics with Olympic double gold medal winning coach Bill Furniss and Fred Kirby.

Team Manager for the North East

21 Sep: ASA Youth Talent Programme - North East Region - weekend camp

As part of its commitment to developing youth talent, the ASA is holding a series of regional camps, the first of which (for the north eastern region) took place at Sunderland Aquatic Centre on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 September 2008. Our very own Amanda Davies was selected to attend the camp as team manager.

A total of 26 male and female swimmers attended aged between 13 - 17. The selected swimmers had all finished in the top ten in the national finals. About one third of the swimmers attending were open water swimmers.

The camp was overseen by Dave Legge the English Programmes Talent Delivery Co-ordinator. Former Dartes head coach, Roy Shepherdson, now head coach at Kingston Upon Hull was the head coach on the camp. He was assisted by a team of head coaches from a number of clubs throughout the north eastern region and a physiotherapist.

The following coaches were at the camp:

The aim of the camp was to develop some of the region's most promising young swimmers by enabling them to come together to take part in high quality training sessions and for them to be exposed to a range of senior coaches from the region.

The course commenced with registration at 7.15 am on the Saturday morning. Over the course of the weekend the swimmers had 4 two hour pool sessions (2 long course, 2 short course). Interspersed with the swimming were gym sessions, physical screening and educational workshops. The gym sessions concentrated on working with therabands, medicine balls and swiss balls. The physical screening consisted of weighing, taking various measurements and a physical examination after which an individual report was prepared on each swimmer. The educational workshops focused on nutrition and diet (led by Ben Neves) and lifestyle choices (led by Dave Legge).

Over the course of the weekend the swimmers covered approximately 26 kilometres in the pool. Each swimmer also had a one to one session with Dave Legge. The camp concluded with staff debrief at 4.00 pm on the Sunday with the general consensus being that it had been a success.

The second and third and final camp for this cohort of swimmers will take place next year.

Yorkshire Coaches Conference

7 Sep: 5 Dartes coaches attended the annual Yorkshire Coaches Conference, helping to fulfil our commitment to maintaining coaching excellence within Doncaster. We were the only representatives from Doncaster's clubs.

Highlights during the day long conference included shoulder injury prevention techniques by Darren Wigg; a former GB international swimmer and now a member of the GB Physio team. Also Borough of Stockton's Fred Kirby (coach to Olympians Jess Dickons and Jemma Lowe) hosted the usual pool based exhibition with GB Junior international Catriona Bruce.

Coach Wallace Meets Bill Furniss

1 Sep: Coach Wallace and a number of our young swimmers enjoyed a couple of evenings attending a stroke clinic with Rebecca Adlington's coach Bill Furniss.

Dartes Recruit Another Professional Coach

1 Sep: Doncaster Dartes are pleased to announce the appointment of part-time assistant coach Kevin Nicholas (head coach at Spa Askern). Kevin will take on responsibility for our development squad bringing through Doncaster's talented club swimmers and introducing them to our programme. This is the first step on their journey towards competing at county and regional championships and earning a place on our teams.

Sophie Just Misses Medals at Nationals

28 Jul: Sophie Taylor (Arm) continues her romp up the rankings with more impressive PB's at the 2008 BAGCAT Age Group Nationals at Ponds Forge. Finalling in BOTH the 100m and 200m Breaststroke Sophie finished 4th in each - missing the bronze in the 100m by only 0.6s - but with a further improvement of her personal best by 2 seconds!

In the 200m final she improved on a 6th place qualifyer to finish 4th, again producing a PB of almost 2 seconds.

Max Litchfield (Spa) also made a final in the 400m Individual Medley, qualifying 7th. He couldn't quite match his qualifying time in the final and finished a brave 8th. Max finished 11th in 200m Backstroke and 15th in 200m Individual Medley.

Laura Hirst (Edl) came 24th in the 1500m Freestyle.

Well done to all three Dartes swimmers at this years Age Group Nationals. It is especially important to recognise the tireless efforts these members have put in just to qualify for the National Championships coming on top of injuries and a challenging year for Dartes. A credit to the club.

Gold at North East Regionals

16 Jun: Following up her Yorkshire Championship stanglehold on Breaststroke Sophie Taylor (Arm) is crowned NEC Champion at 100m and narrowly misses top spot in 200m Breaststroke. Shannon Dodson (Spa) was our other medal winner with a Bronze in 100m Backstroke.

9 National Qualifying times were achieved. They were:

In all 77 personal bests were achieved. An excellent performance from only 16 swimmers. More detail can be found in the results section.

Rebecca Milnes to Represent GB

24 Apr: After her fantastic gold medal in the 2007 World Championships Rebecca Milnes (SAS) goes from strength to strength. A member of the 2001 Dartes National Squad, she recently gained selection by the British Triathlon Federation to represent Great Britain as an Elite under 20 athlete at the European Triathlon Championships to be held on 10th/11th May 2008.

All at Doncaster Dartes are with you Rebecca.

1st "Minster" Meet a Glorious Success!

21 Apr: Our first full scale open meet, the 'Minster Meet' has received plenty of praise from clubs and swimmers. A massive effort by a ton of volunteers resulted in a hectic but well run meet with lots of exciting swimming. We more than met our objectives for the meet and have firmly established a new event os many club's calendars. Well done to everyone.

Full results results are now available and the roll of honour is below:

Top Club
1st City of Sheffield 158
2nd York City Baths Club 141.5
3rd Bradford Dolphins 135

Top Girls
9 Abigail Bradley Team Jorvick
10 Hannah Mayall Louth
11-12 Jaymie Conran Scunthorpe
13-14 Laura Askew Co Sheffield
15+ Georgia Mellors Trenton
Top Boys
9 Charlie Noble East Leeds
10 Kyle Ashmore Don Valley
11-12 Alex Coultard New Earswick
13-14 Louis Fligg York City
15+ Jonathan Pennell South Axholme