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News December 2009

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

The Stories behind the Headlines

No Fear For JDS Animals

Dartes Youngstars 20 Dec: Earlier this month we set up a completely imaginary squad called "The Animal Squad". The intention was to encourage more of our younger swimmers to have a crack at the tougher events by highlighting our super tough athletes who regularly compete at: 200m Butterfly, 400m IM, and 800m/1500m Freestyle.

Well today, Coach Kevin's JDS time trials had the 200m Butterfly scheduled. It's the first one of those big events that the young guys get access to at Yorkshire Champs in February. The other 3 get held back for a year or two.

We'd like to think that our efforts publicising The Animal Squad was the reason Kev had 12 eager young Fly swimmers diving in to Adwick for a 200m time today. In reality, it was probably more to do with Michael Rock beating Mr Phelps at the Duel in the Pool yesterday.

Whatever the reason, we're all delighted with the numbers. Especially as 5 of those swimmers also recorded Qualifying Times for the Yorkshire Championships in the new year.

Well done kids, keep up the good work.

By the way, watch that video again and check out the length of Rock's turns.

CoB Christmas Meet Video

Some of the team at Bradford 20 Dec: It's heavily biased towards City of Bradford swimmers as you'd expect, but we do feature heavily in the video of their festive meet. We finished up at the Bradford Christmas meet as runner up in the Top Club competition with 384 points, behind Borough of Kirklees with 434. 23 Gold medals (BoK had 26, the hosts in 3rd only 14), 21 Silver, and 15 Bronze.

In the top boys contest, Max Litchfield (Spa) came top with 60 points after winning every event he raced (including both Freestyle and Mixed skins). Joe Litchfield (Spa) came 3rd with 50 points with Richard Lee (Spa) 5th. Our South Yorkshire rivals Rotherham Metro, sitting next to us on the pool side, made it a South Yorkshire Top 5 in the boys competition with Robert Kirk in 2nd and Dale Waterhouse in 4th.

But here's the meet video courtesy of City of Bradford and youtube. Enjoy.

Especially for any of the Loud and Proud who fancy a game of 'Spot the biggest banner in the North East', here's another one. It looks like the camera man was desperately trying to keep the banner out of the picture (you all remember where it was?) By the end though he clearly gave in :-) Shame we moved its location on Sunday morning really!

Nice camera work City of Bradford.
Good to see our local meets on the Internet.

Duel in the Pool - What do you do without Derek?

19 Dec: Back in Sardinia Head Coach Wallace and Assistant Coach Dave were scouring the Internet trying to secure tickets for this weekend's Duel in the Pool. The ticket website quickly made it plain that we'd left it too late to book a block of enough seats for the Loud and Proud plus swimmers, so it looked like the weekend would pass by without much in the way of Dartes representation. Bah Humbug!

Coach John meets Dave Coddington Later we discovered that Doncaster's Super-Official, Derek Fretwell, wasn't even on the officials list either, and panic really started to set in. Surely Dartes would be present in some form, wouldn't we?

Well we needn't have worried. Text messages started arriving on the pool deck at St James during training on Friday night. Apparently Dave Holmes (Arm) did have tickets and found his path to the toilets blocked by the giant Matt Grevers. It appears Dave can still pass himself off as a top class swimmer well enough to sneak in to the athletes' enclosure (don't ask - maybe he was wandering around in his shiny suit). Hopefully we can twist Dave's arm to tell us more about what was happening back stage in Manchester over the Christmas period.

But what do you do when your spy in the officials' camp isn't selected for judging duty. Well you get yourself another one of course. Coach John Smith quickly went out and found a replacement for Derek in the form of Mr Dave Coddington on a flying visit from the good ol' US of A. As one of FINA's top 10 officials he was on deck in Manchester this weekend and John recruited him to our cause.

Back in 2000 he was Chairman of Pacific Northwest Swimming and represented around 5,800 swimmers in the Seattle area (makes Doncaster look tiny doesn't it) and helped save the University of Washington's swimming programme. Sadly that programme was finally cut earlier this year.

We wanted to present Dave with a 2009 National Squad shirt to take back to Seattle but unfortunately couldn't get it organised in time. Instead John kindly donated Kim's or maybe Kelly's cap (he's not saying which one) and a print of the Dartes logo. Loud and Proud: Biggest Banner in the North East Dave's mission is to get photos of big name swimmers wearing our cap (if he returns with a photo of Dave Holmes wearing it, we won't be happy) and maybe a few autographs around the logo. If he succeeds you'll be the first to know.

But as this weekend has highlighted, Swimming can be a spectator sport. With the right atmosphere, passionate supporters, and a little imagination, Swim Meets can draw big crowds and be entertaining. For most of this season, Dartes has been trying to bring that atmosphere to every meet we attend. We've brought along the noisy cheer leaders, the pom poms, cow bells, and horns. Our swimmers have enjoyed similar support to that praised by Fran Halsall and friends this weekend. We'd like to think the results we've had confirm the importance of doing so.

You only had to listen to the positive vibes from our jubilant GB heroes to understand what that sort of support means to our athletes. Yet all too often, open meets in this country are dull, lifeless affairs with next to no atmosphere. We heard today about US college dual meets attracting 1000s of enthusiastic spectators making heaps of noise and, as our Rossington friends would say, Raising the Roof. Yet we also hear rumours that our horns, bells, and clapper boards may soon be banned from meets.

Utterly ridiculous!

Our challenge to all our neighbouring clubs in Yorkshire and the North East is to join in and help deliver a superb atmosphere at all our swim meets. Organise your parents and get them supporting ALL of your team too. Let's make swim meets in the North East as exciting as the Duel in the Pool and give our youngstars the fun environment they deserve to compete in.

Well done Manchester!


It appears Doncaster was even better represented at the Duel than we thought. Guest contributor Louise Hood has just written in:

Oswald enjoyed the Duel Just to let you know that at least another 4 Donny swimmers (and parents) were at Duel in the Pool on Friday evening. Oswald (Adw) and Jacqueline Hood (Adw), Phoebe Winter (Adw) and Tyler Dodson (Adw).

We all had an amazing time watching some quality swimmers. Phelps was incredible. Loads of world records were set (and boy was that exciting). My swims of the night were from Fran H, who won both her individual events in style! Funnily enough the amount of noise from us spectators reminded me of the "Loud and Proud" - it was electrifying.

Us Brits even screamed the USA when they were on for a world record. A fantastic evening.

Have a good Xmas everyone

First Under 11mins

First under 11mins 19 Dec: Phase 4 have been doing their monthly 2x800m Freestyle test set since September and the times have been steadily falling due mainly to increased confidence in attacking the distance. Last month Jessica Gillatt (Ros) dropped beneath a Yorkshire Qualifying time in a training set and the older girls crept ever closer to the 11min mark.

This morning's attempt saw 11mins broken for the first time. Kim Smith (Arm) has been setting the pace each month but normally with Alex Cook (Spa) and Jess right there with her. Today she left them behind to sneak under 11mins (10:55). Just in front of her, leading the way, was Caitlin Dixon (Arm) starting 10 secs ahead of Kim but finishing in 11:02.

It's actually the first time Caitlin has completed this set so it's good to see her pushing the pace at the front for the first rep, even though she backed off for number 2. Considering she went 10:22 at Snow Frills earlier this month, we'd expect to see her go sub 11mins for both reps in the new year.

Name 400m 800m 400m 800m
Kim 5:30 10:55 5:35 11:10
Caitlin 5:36 11:02 5:59 12:38
Jess 6:08 12:46 5:27 11:07
Alex C 5:38 11:17 5:36 11:16
Oliver 5:51 11:39 5:54 12:07
Kelly 5:45 11:40 5:50 11:43
Beth 5:48 11:41 5:52 11:44
Mark 6:03 12:12 6:32 13:13
Natasha 6:13 12:21 6:29 13:05
Katriona 6:12 12:23 6:21 12:53
Alex B 6:09 12:23 6:23 12:50

Another YSA Qualifier Another young star in the first rep was Mark Beech (Spa). He's another one hitting Yorkshire Qualifying times in training, this time for his 400m split (there is nothing longer for his age). 6:03 is way under the 10 year old QT of 6:29 and he was only just outside it on rep number 2. Maybe he has a quality distance Freestyle to rival his NER Short Course medals in Backstroke. Well done Mark.

Another Record Tumbles

Shannon won every round in Freestyle skins 13 Dec: Rewriting of the Yorkshire short course record book continued apace this weekend as Max Litchfield (Spa) negative split a 50m Bc to claim his 4th record of the season so far (still to be confirmed).

Overall Dartes finished runner-up in the Top Club competition behind Borough of Kirklees, but we also dominated the Junior Skins competition. In the boys, Max and Richard Lee (Spa) were unbeatable in both Freestyle and Medley variants. On the Saturday Elliot Trofimowicz (Spa) joined in the fun for his first Skins contest and was a round away from making it 3 Dartes boys battling at the end.

In the Junior Girls Holly Lewis (SAS) stormed her way to victory in the Medley skins on Saturday, while Shannon Dodson (Spa) comfortably won every round in the Freestyle on Sunday. She even treated us to a PB in the final round! Not bad after 5 back to back 50m sprints.

Christmas Training Schedule

7 Dec: As always over the Christmas period we're forced to make changes due to pool closures, etc. Below are the sessions that will be running from Christmas Eve through to New Year's Day.

Day Morning Evening
21 Dec
5am - 7.30am
Phase 4/5
22 Dec
5am - 7.30am
Phase 4/5
7.15pm - 8.45am
St James
Phase 3/4/5
23 Dec
24 Dec
5am - 7.30am
Phase 4/5
25 Dec
26 Dec
27 Dec
28 Dec
5am - 7.30am
Phase 4/5
29 Dec
5am - 7.30am
Phase 4/5
7.15pm - 8.45pm
St James
Phase 3/4/5
30 Dec
5am - 7.30am
Phase 4/5
31 Dec
5am - 7.30am
Phase 4/5
1 Jan

We'll be back to normal from Saturday January 2nd onwards. Have a very merry Christmas and all the best for 2010.

Snow Frills and the Animal Squad

Max: he's a bit of an Animal! Are you? 5 Dec: One of the areas that Dartes has been under represented at for as long as anyone can remember is the big monster events: the 1500m/800m Freestyle, 400m IM and 200m Butterfly. Sure we've had a few swimmers gain success at those events over the years but we've never really stamped our mark on them. They've been the exceptions rather than the norm.

That needs to change.

You may have seen over the past week a new set of banners appear on the right hand side of the site. They're entitled: "The Animal Squad"! For years coaches have joked about having an "Animal Lane" where all the tough, hard core athletes reside. A Breed Apart: Toughest of the Tough. A lane in which mere mortals are scared to swim. That series of articles linked to above provides a decent description of the concept (be sure to scroll past the adverts). The following video gives an eye witness account by one of the participants, K.C. Converse.

Swimming Videos on Floswimming

So that's the concept. We're twisting it around slightly to make it a badge of honour; an elite group within an elite programme. Your place in The Animal Squad is assured just as soon as you compete at 800m/1500m Freestyle, 400m IM, or 200m Butterfly while representing Dartes. You do have to requalify every year of course, but we're confident that once you've got over those initial fears you'll be buzzing with pride and entering more.

So who do we expect to do those events? Obviously we're only talking about Phase 5 swimmers here, we wouldn't expect you guys in JDS to enter a 200m Butterfly...

Whoaaa, hold on just one second.
Of course we would!

You can (and therefore should) be entering 200m Butterfly at Yorkshires from 9 years up and 400m IM from 10. Boys can enter Distance Freestyle from 12 upwards whereas the girls are even luckier, they can start Distance Freestyle from 11. So make sure you're biting at the bit when the time comes and book your spot on The Animal Squad.

We had a few do just that at NERs last month. This weekend we can add a few more. The Snow Frills meet is a very high level meet that today saw Double Olympic Champion Rebecca Adlington beaten at the 400m IM (okay, it's not her best event but that does demonstrate the quality of the competitors). Yesterday our very own Max Litchfield (Spa) won the 14 years 1500m Freestyle. Rachael Grainger (Spa) took the Bronze in the 13 years girls' version. But they were the only 2 Dartes swimmers in the 1500m on Friday. We should have hordes of 11-14 year olds doing this event. Don't let it scare you, give it a crack.

Doing just that this morning in the 800m were three first timers. Up first in the boys was Joe Litchfield (Spa) finishing 4th in the 11 years. He was quickly watching elder brother Max pick up another Gold medal in the 14 years ahead of team mate Richard Lee (Spa). An interesting Gold and Bronze that pushed Rebecca Adlington's Nova Centurion team mates Matthew Dobson and Daniel Barke into Silver and 4th. Well done boys.

Then the girls came round again, and our next two first timers climbed up on the blocks. Finishing in 10:22, it was hard work in more ways than one, but Caitlin Dixon (Arm) finally decided she might just be the swimmer we all know she is by finishing 8th. Cruising to a Yorkshire Qualifying Time for the 400m (and 800m) along the way. Right behind her was our third new animal of this weekend, Heidi Smith (Ros) touched 11th in 10:25. Awesome job girls, let this be the first of many.

More veteran 800m swimmers came in the 13 years age group in the guise of Molly Grayson (Arm), 4th in 9:33, and Holly Lewis (SAS), 12th in 10:11.

So with our Swim-a-long-a-Santa meet at Beverley tomorrow, there ends our interest in this year's Snow Frills. To those of you not competing today, take every opportunity to enter Distance Freestyle events. The younger you are when you start, the better it will be.