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News June 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

Scottish Nationals

28 Jun: While the young guns of Dartes were winning Top Club at the Jorvik sprints meet, some of our National Squad travelled north to compete at Scottish Nationals as a warm up to ASA Nationals next month.

Sophie impersonating Simon Cowell With the Rome World Championships less than 3 weeks away, this event was the 2nd British Swimming qualifying meet and was packed with Olympians and GB squad hopefuls. To demonstrate the high quality of swimming on display, Friday night witnessed double Olympic Champion Rebecca Adlington go head to head with Olympic Bronze medalist Jo Jackson on the 800m Freestyle. The fastest time set in the World this year is 8:16.70 by Romania's Camelia Potec. Rebecca went 8:16.81 to confirm her standing as #2 (this year, but still World Record holder) while Jo recorded 8:17.81, 3rd fastest anywhere in the world with a good 6 second margin!

The bar was set very high then, and there were no age-group categories for our young swimmers to hide in -- we were competing against Olympians!

Sophie Taylor (Arm) took part in the British Gas Championships earlier in the year which was the first qualifying event for Rome. She returned for round 2 and reached the B final for all the Breaststroke events: 50m - 12th, 100m - 17th, 200m - 12th.

Katie Johnson (Spa) who splits her training between Dartes and Russ Barber's elite senior programme at City of Sheffield also reached B finals. Representing the Sheffield club she managed 13th in the 200m IM, 12th for 50m Butterfly and 16th for the 100m event.

For our teenage boys, competing against the big senior men is an impossible call. In their late teens and early 20s, the addition of serious weight training to their programme will beef them up and provide a more level playing field, but for now it's about gaining experience. The best placings this week went to Max Litchfield (Spa) with 28th in the 200m Backstroke, and Matthew Davies (Arm) right behind him in 32nd.

In the 50m Breaststroke and 50m Butterfly Richard Lee (Spa) had to contend with the likes of huge, beefy Olympian Liam Tancock (10 years his elder). The size difference is somewhat comical. Nevertheless, Brucey swam well to finish predominately in the 50s for most of his events.

A week of watching how the top senior athletes in British Swimming conduct themselves at high pressure meets was the main focus. Being able to swim fast in such a cauldron is a skill athletes need to develop (as Sophie found out at the previous qualifying meet). This meet is an early stepping stone for our squad along that path.

Apologies to Keagan Guest (Spa) whose 50m Breaststroke swim wasn't spotted in the results at the time this article was written. Keagan also competed at Scottish Nationals.

The Spirit of Doncaster -- Congratulations Jorvik

27 Jun: In their first meet as hosts, Team Jorvik pulled off an extremely well organised and friendly event for which the club can be immensely proud. At the half way mark it looked as though they were going to win the Top Club award too, which would have been the icing on the cake for Mr Meet Graeme Taylor and Head Coach Darren Burchell.

At the half way interval two clubs were pulling away in the team scores, Team Jorvik were out in front, but hot on their heels was the spectre of Dartes! The meet was a perfect opportunity to whet a few of our young JDS swimmers in a quick turnover event and they grabbed the opportunity with both hands. A similar number from Phase 4 joined in the fun too; Saturday morning training is normally speed work for them anyway, this just added an extra spicey edge!

While the big Dartes banner took centre stage on the side of John Charles, it was nice to have all of Doncaster's swimmers sitting together. Armthorpe sat to the banner's left, Rossington sat to its right, and Coach Karen brought along her Dearne Valley team to reinforce the Dartes regulars in the middle. Edlington's young (and small) contingent also joined in the pre-warm up stretching with their Dartes training friends. It all contributed to a very friendly pool side.

Beth Top Girl In the pool too Doncaster's swimmers seemed to pop up everywhere as demonstrated by the top swimmer competition. 3 Dartes girls in the top 5 for the 9 year olds, with Phoebe Winter (Adw) runner up with a bucket load of medals. The 10 years boys saw Ben Long (Arm) finish runner up (swimming for his home club), Josh Reasbeck (Edl) was just 3 points behind him in 4th.

The morning session saw Dartes girls dominate the 11 years events. Beth Reddy (Arm) won the top girl trophy, with Tonika Holdsworth (Spa), Courtney Massey (Drn), and Eleanor Chafer (SAS) taking 3rd, 4th, and 5th respectively. In fact 7 of the top 10 were Dartes swimmers (although some were swimming for their home club today). Congratulations to Armthorpe's Max Grashion for winning the Boy's equivalent.

Jumping up an age it was much the same. Crazy cat Caitlin Dixon (Arm) took the honours representing her home club, with her Dartes training partner Leah Rushton (Spa) taking the runner up spot. Jessica Gillatt (Ros) and Leah Tierney (Drn) also added to the points for Dartes coming 4th and 5th overall.

Crazy Cat Caitlin We hadn't arrived with the intention of challenging for top club, but by the half way stage it was clear we were doing just that. As the afternoon session rolled on we creeped up on the hosts. By Event 205 Jorvik had amassed 361 points to our 328. 7 events later we took the lead by 1.5 points.

It had become a two-horse race, but the lead bounced between both clubs for a while with our neighbouring feeder clubs jokingly offering to donate their team points to our cause (Armthorpe were sitting 4th at half time).

But with Kim Smith (Arm) picking up the top prize for 13 year olds and Alex Cook (Spa) in 3rd, our points kept amassing. Dearne Valley's Josh Clarke added his 17 points for an overall 2nd place in the 15 years to that of his club mate Stuart Wardle's 23 for 3rd place in the 13 years. The 12 year old boys of Oliver Richardson (Edl) and Jack Green (Tho) were joined by Dearne Valley's promising youngster David Booth to add another combined 49 points. Every point helped as the Top Club competition went right down to the last event. In the end Dartes beat Jorvik by just 2.5 points.

Kim Top Girl Unlucky Jorvik, you almost made it.

Great swimming by all of Doncaster's swimmers but congratulations to the Dartes contingent!

A huge thank you to the coaches and team managers from Dearne Valley who came along to help look after their swimmers in their first meet with Dartes, we hope to see you all again soon. It's good to see so many of your younger swimmers working their way through JDS too.

Thanks also to our regular Dartes coaches John Smith (Arm) and Sarah Green (Tho) for helping Phase 4 coach Dave Cuthbert and JDS coach Kevin Nicholas with the rest of the Dartes team.

But wait, there's more ...

Mr IT Our very own Cris Lewis (SAS) was running the technology for the meet in his air conditioned, glass fronted, finish line perch (find the results on his website). It gave Dartes the opportunity to trial a 'Direct to Mobile' results service that will make its official debut at our Swim-a-long-a-Santa Christmas meet.

For a small charge you'll be able to have start lists and as-they-happen results sent directly to your mobile phone. No more desperately listening for the announcer, you'll be first to know your results from a text message the minute each event ends!

Look out for details of this development at future Dartes meets.

Last Chance Weekend - Nik's in!

20 Jun: What a difference a couple of years make.

Was the swimmer we watched today the same as the one who joined us a couple of years ago? We're often criticised at Dartes for taking on swimmers that certain quarters don't consider to be 'Dartes Material'. When he arrived a couple of years ago, Nik Grainger (Spa) would definitely have fit into that category. Hopefully Nik won't be offended by that statement, he shouldn't be. It actually makes his achievements this weekend all the more remarkable.

It's not an exagerration to say that over the past few years at Dartes, Nik has pretty much re-learnt each of the 4 strokes under the watchful eye of Head Coach Andy Wallace. For a 14 year old to be competitive at 200m IM at North East Regionals, you need good technique; everyone's incredibly strong, technique is the deciding factor. Not good technique in a single stroke though, good technique across the board. When he arrived at Dartes, it's fairly certain no one accused Nik of having such attributes.

Today however, watching his 200m IM was a revelation. 4 excellent strokes which left him looking perfectly at home challenging for the final. Months of hard work and determination spent making massive technical changes to his swimming, have transformed him from ugly duckling to graceful swan, the result is responsible for some astounding time drops. His physical strength (which was always present) has now been accompanied by solid technique just as he's about to hit Youth swimming when it's needed most.

Nik His own technique improvements and the supreme style of his team mates also competing in this event are testament to the strong technique focus at Dartes today. It's no coincidence that of the top 12 places in the 14 years boys 200m IM, 3 went to Dartes (the Silver medal, 6th, and Nik's 12th). That contrasts with the best of the rest: perennial powerhouse City of Leeds could only manage 2 (Bronze and 10th), City of Bradford also managed 2 (7th and 8th).

We still lack the numbers of the big city teams (we urge more of our feeder clubs to more actively feed through swimmers into the JDS to give them the best possible start), but the quality and technique of Doncaster's finest is truly a pleasure to watch in action.

But if the 200m IM showed off Nik's transformation best, it probably doesn't mean much unless you've closely followed him through the previous 2 years or so. The real headline grabbing moment came earlier. In the very first event. The 800m Freestyle.

Thanks to all his hard work, we knew that National Qualifying was finally on the cards. Still an outside bet, but definitely now within reach. The plan was to set the pace needed to achieve it (35sec pace per 50m) and then desperately hang on to it for as long as possible. His Dartes team mates played the role of cheerleading squad at strategic locations around the pool, and his dad did his usual job of deafening everyone in the building.

In the end though, qualifying never looked in doubt. Nik never went more than half a second over his target pace and even managed to build up to a strong finish of 33.23 to bring it home.

A lesson to everyone then. No matter where you start from, if you're determined enough, if you pay attention to the skills and technical points coaches ask of you, a National Qualifying Time is not out of your grasp. But you do have to earn it!

Congratulations Nik, take your place as 2009 National Squad member number 12!

It wasn't all about the 14 year old boys, but they provided the biggest drama of the day. They had already booked their place at Nationals for the 4x100m Freestyle team, but the Medley team was probably their slightly stronger event. The much anticipated showdown was destined to be the last event of the weekend, and with the calamity caused by the flooded plant room at Ponds Forge, the last event of this weekend actually took place around 9.30pm!

The first heat was won convincingly by a run away City of Leeds team. They looked impressive, winning by a mile, but it was by far the slower of the two heats. Heat 2 contained the rest of the big hitters and despite the early standard set by the host club, it wasn't expected to come close to the favourites City of Newcastle and Dartes.

Fate however, had other plans!

Half way through Saturday's warm up disaster struck. Elliot Trofimowicz (Spa) climbed out of the pool injured. A trapped nerve putting an end to his individual hopes for the weekend, and a distraught team saw their chances of qualifying for two national teams slipping away fast.

Sunday night approached, would Elliot arrive, would he swim?
Could Elliot swim?

National Qualifying Boys Team He arrived.
He paddled around in the diving pit.
He declared himself fit - sort of, with a non-too-enthusiastic shrug.
Fingers crossed the boys headed down for heat 2.

The order was to be:
Backstroke: Max Litchfield (Spa)
Breaststroke: Nik
Butterfly: Richard Lee (Spa)
Freestyle: Elliot

No prizes for guessing what happened on the Backstroke. Max took Silver on the individual and Gold on the 200m and none of the other medalists led off their teams. He touched over 4secs ahead of Newcastle in 2nd and 1sec faster than Matthew Graham had led out the City of Leeds team a heat earlier. An impressive start.

Nik had the impossible job of holding off the winners of the individual Gold and Silver on Breaststroke. Matthew Johnson (City of Sheffield) and Jamie Magee (City of Newcastle) cruised up to Nik's shoulder and breezed by their fellow finalist.

And then the lights went out!

Just as Brucey was about to dive in, the pool reverted to emergency lighting as the pool staff decided 9.30pm was plenty late enough (2 minutes more and we'd all be in agreement). With the diving pit in darkness, the main pool had an eerie blue glow as three teams battled it out.

Slowly, with each stroke, Richard pushed City of Sheffield backwards and went on a charge in search of Newcastle. By the take over he hadn't quite caught them, but Silver was in the bag - or was it?

The freestyle leg fell to the injured Elliot. He'd pulled out of his individual events in a desperate attempt to recover in time to anchor this team. At stake was a place at Nationals next month; a possible spot in two finals; and an outside shot at the medals. After a season plagued with more ridiculous injuries than anyone cares to remember (none of which were swimming related) the run of bad luck continued. How would it affect the result?

We needn't have worried, Elliot came through strongly to take Silver. The time was a little slower than expected, but hopefully that will be rectified next time.

Full results from the whole team are now available in the results archive.
National Squad 2009 ...

Winter Yorkshire Time Trials

Time Trials 5/12 Jul: For 2 weeks, normal JDS Sunday afternoon sessions will be replaced with a series of time trials for Winter Yorkshire qualifying. These are only open to JDS swimmers (who are expected to do all 5 events), and anyone from Phase 4 who still needs the odd time for Yorkshires.

Only genuine attempts to qualify for Yorkshires will be allowed from outside JDS, these are not general time trials.

Sunday 5th July:

10yr and under boys, and 9yr and under girls:
- 50m Freestyle, 50m Backstroke, and 50m Butterfly
11yr and over boys, and 10yr and over girls:
- 100m Breaststroke, and 200m IM

Sunday 12th July:

10yr and under boys, and 9yr and under girls:
- 50m Breaststroke, 100m IM
11yr and over boys, and 10yr and over girls:
- 100m Freestyle, 100m Backstroke, and 100m Butterfly

JDS swimmers will be assumed to be doing all events, anyone else needs to submit their entries beforehand using the online entry form or in person to Kevin Nicholas or Chris Hirst.

Underwater Fly Kick, Pt2

14 Jun: With the NERs postponed until next week, we thought we'd bring you a little fun this weekend.

Last year we showed you Hill Taylor complete 100yrd Backstroke in 47.2secs. That's 4 lengths in Hall Cross. The twist was, he did it all underwater on Fly kick! Once upon a time, that was legal. But as backstroke was rapidly becoming an underwater race FINA put a stop to it with the 15m rule.

Well on Thursday, our old friend took part in a 50m long course Backstroke, see the video below. This is an actual race with top class swimmers for competition from various big teams in the states (the mighty Texas Longhorns being the home team). Hill is in lane 7, just at the bottom of your picture.

This is something of an annual tradition for Hill, having done the same thing for the past 3 years (once he made it into the final). Rumour has it that Ryan Lochte is even quicker!

Now do you understand why we insist on Dolphin kick so much?
Addition: worth nothing that the World Record for 50m Backstroke is 24.33!

Land Training, Arizona Style and John Leonard on "Tech Suits"

10 Jun: Thanks to our good friends at FloSwimming we can bring you a glimpse at how the guys at the University of Arizona enjoy a sunny afternoon by the pool.

Focus is core strength, so there's plenty of variations of crunch, curl, and plank that you're all familiar with.

But Garret also tracked down John Leonard this week too. John is a member of the FINA suit commission and has the inside track on their long term plan for the so called "tech suits". It's nearly 30mins long so you might want to go get yourself a cuppa before hitting play. But for anyone considering buying an expensive new suit, this is essential viewing.

Shantastic at North Easterns!!!

Shannon on Tour 6 Jun: That'll be 10 then! Double figures it is.

In day 1 of age group NERs, there's quite a bit to shout about. Highlight of the day has to be the addition of our 10th National Squad member for 2009. Shannon Dodson (Spa) obliterated her 100m Backstroke PB with a 1:12.78 that sneaked her inside the qualifying mark by just 0.02secs. Good job she refused to let her mum snip her finger nails this morning.

If that wasn't enough excitment, Mundane Max (Spa) added another 2 events to his programme for July. He will now be contesting the 200m Butterfly and 100m Breaststroke in addition to pretty much everything else (12 events so far).

Early this morning (almost forgotten by now), Nik Grainger (Spa) finally got to race a 1500m Freestyle. With competition for places in distance events at open meets hard to come by, Nik seems to have been rejected by meet after meet this year. Well, more fool them. Finishing in 17:38.91, he knocked the best part of 1min off his PB and was an agonising 5secs from qualifying for Nationals.

Richard Lee Beep Beep!
Beep Beep!

And then half way through writing this report (surely 6pm is safe, everything will be finished by now), another text message arrives:

"Another one!
Richard Lee 100 breast 1:13.15,

We were going to add that his 100m split in the Freestyle team was fast enough to qualify if he could repeat it in the individual next week. His split of 56.62 helped earn Silver behind Harrogate. But Richard Lee (Spa) has already become the 11th member of the Dartes National Squad on Breaststroke. The pressure is off for next week now, let's see what he can do.

Have you been keeping count?
That's 30 entries for next month's Nationals spread among 11 athletes.
So far! Stay tuned ...
National Squad ...

Another Former Head Coach Joins the Team

5 Jun: Another of Doncaster's former Head Coaches joins the Dartes team. Already plying their trade up and down our training lanes are Doncaster's current crop of Head Coaches: Kevin Nicholas (Spa) and his JDS coaches Neil Stephenson (Adw), Jeff Squires (Edl), and Vicky Norman (Ros); along with Phil Hughes (SAS) and Karen Selman (Drn) helping with Phase 4.

Les Perkins Indeed the list of clubs whose head coach isn't actively involved at Dartes is now just Armthorpe, Don Valley, and Thorne. But with John Smith (Arm) playing a crucial role with Phase 4, and Derrick Fretwell (Arm) a regular member of the JDS coaching army, that only really leaves 2 clubs unrepresented on the coaching front.

As former Head Coach at Edlington SC, Les Perkins brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to the Dartes poolside. He's worked previously alongside Head Coach Andy Wallace and Assistant Coach Dave Cuthbert while all 3 were at Edlington SC. He was also involved with Dartes a number of years ago while his daughter came up through the programme.

Initially, Les will be working alongside Assistant Coach Kevin Nicholas with the Junior Development Squad where his vast teaching experience will be of huge benefit to the young stars of the future.

Hopefully the next few months will see him become more involved throughout the Dartes programme. As always, please give Les a warm Dartes welcome when you see him.