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News October 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

Phase 4 800m Set

Alex and Kim 24 Oct: A day out from the training camp was the setting for a special treat for Phase 4. The second of our monthly 2x800m test sets.

Judging by the times set this morning, they're starting to feel a little more confident about going out hard at the start of an 800m. Three girls Jessica Gillatt (Ros), Kim Smith (Arm), and Alex Cook (Spa) set the pace at the front for both swims. All three finished practically level on 11:30 - almost 30secs faster than last month.

Overall, most dropped a lot of time, with Beth Reddy (Spa) and Oliver Richardson (Edl) dropping over 1min each.

Name 400m 800m 400m 800m
Jess 5:44 11:32 5:43 11:30
Kim 5:48 11:33 5:43 11:30
Alex C 5:46 11:41 5:40 11:30
Beth 5:52 11:54 6:28 12:03
Katriona 6:06 12:08 6:09 12:20
Oliver 6:00 12:14 6:11 12:21
Eleanor 6:21 12:42 ? 12:15?
Jack 6:09 12:26 6:16 12:45
Kelly 6:33 13:15 6:38 13:28
Chloe H 6:24 13:51 7:05 13:41
Caitlin 5:55 13:41
Natasha 7:03 13:41 7:05 14:01

Roll on November where a hopefully healthy full-compliment of Phase 4 can lower their times even further.

Dave Holmes Strikes Again

23 Oct: Not content with a couple of Yorkshire Golds this year, Dave Holmes (Arm) has just won the 200m Fly at National Masters.

Swimming in the 25-30 years age group, Dave finished in 2:04.59, the fastest overall by over 5seconds.

Then on 24th October his Golden streak continued. We really weren't sure he'd manage a 400m Freestyle, but 4:04.79 and the fastest time overall (again) gave him another Gold medal. He followed that up in the afternoon's 200m Freestyle with a rather swift 1:51.46. You guessed it, another Gold and again the fastest time in the event.

There's more to come yet.

Sardinia Training Camp Week

Max and Joe Show off the Souvenir Shirts 23 Oct: Next week a bunch of 20 athletes plus coaches and chaperones head off to the sunny mediterranean for a warm weather training camp in Sardinia. We do of course use the phrase warm weather very, very loosely.

Sponsor for the event is CIS (Chemical Industrial Services) and we're delighted to have them on board. Souvenir shirts (courtesy of CIS) are in the process of being handed out to all those going on the trip and are modelled here by Max and Joe Litchfield (Spa).

While we're away we hope to update a daily blog here on the website to keep you all informed of our adventures. Keep checking back each day to find out what we've been upto between double 2 hour training sessions and lunch time land training.

Thanks also to Coaches Kevin, John and Neil for holding the fort while we're away. Revised training schedule is shown below for those staying behind. The important thing to note is that ALL morning sessions at Adwick are cancelled from 26th Oct to 31st Oct. Normal training resumes Monday 2nd November. Also, Saturday 31st moves to Hall Cross for one week only.

Day Session
Mon 26th Hall Cross: 19:00-20:30
Tue 27th St James: 19:15-20:45
Thu 29th Hall Cross: 19:00-20:30
Fri 30th St James: 17:45-19:15
Sat 31st Hall Cross: 8:00-10:00

CIS JDS sessions remain as normal and any Phase 5 staying behind should join Phase 4 at the times above.

Once again, a big thank you to CIS for their generosity.

National County Team Champs

18 Oct: The British Gas National County Team Championships got underway today at Ponds Forge. This Short Course meet gathers together the very best in each county to determine who comes top for 2009. In the end the red rose of Lancashire beat the white rose of Yorkshire by 29 points to take 1st (Yorkshire were runners up); 496 points to 467, with Middlesex 3rd with 402.

Dartes were represented on Team Yorkshire by Max Litchfield (Spa) who was beaten to 2nd place by Lancashire's Sam Horrocks in the 100m Backstroke (Max's time 58.71). Also in the 200m Medley team which again finished 2nd behind Lancashire.

Sophie Taylor (Arm) also competed in her last event representing Dartes. Her 200m Medley team also finished 2nd behind Lancashire. She did make amends by winning the 100m Breaststroke though.

Full results sheet can be found in the Results Archive.

Hill House Swimmers to Represent The North

Some of the Hill House team from 2008 13 Oct: Hill House School was back in the pool yesterday at the Northern round of the Independent Schools Association Swimming Championships. Good performances at this meet are required in order to qualify for the North of England team to compete in Coventry in a month's time.

Holly Lewis (SAS) 100m Breaststroke, Hannah Hirst (SAS) 100m Butterfly, and her former Dartes brother Matthew Hirst (SAS) 50m Backstroke and 50m Breaststroke all qualified. In addition, school newcomer Jessica Gillatt (Ros) also secured her berth on the team for 50m Backstroke.

Just like last year, the girls' intermediate team will also be representing the North in Medley and Freestyle. The team includes Holly and Hannah, along with Caroline Keane (Arm) and Emily Scott (SAS).

Yorkshire Record for Magnificent Max!

Two of the Best: Matthew Johnson and Max Litchfield 12 Oct: Over the weekend two boys gave us a swimming spectacle to savour. An absolutely thrilling, early season showdown between City of Sheffield's Matthew Johnson and our very own Max Litchfield (Spa) was a perfect opportunity to watch in awe as they showed off their amazing underwater skills and their determination to battle hard in heavy training. For Matthew a rumoured 70km volume last week, for Max a confirmed 57km.

As usual Saturday belonged to multiple British Age-Group Record holder Matthew. No one really expected anything else, but on the Backstroke at least, Max gave him a run for his money. On the Sunday though, something completely unexpected happened.

In the 200m IM Max Litchfield (Spa) gave the Loud and Proud an excuse to be even louder than normal. Pushing each other the entire race, the stage was set heading into the final turn. A cacophony of noise accompanied them as they surfaced for the final 25m and grew louder as the Dartes supporters sensed an upset.

In the end Max touched in 2:06.95 to Matthew's 2:07.17. Both times inside the old Yorkshire Short Course record set by Daniel Waslin of Kingston upon Hull back in 2003.

Max now joins two other Dartes legends holding Yorkshire Short Course records. Greg Viercant (Arm) still holds the 50m Butterfly standard that he set way back in 1995 of 26.33. Sam Seddon (Adw) Another star from the 90s has held the 50m Breaststroke record since 1996 of 30.26.

A full round up of a brilliant weekend will follow later in the week.

Oh So Close at Winter Yorkshires

Mighty Max 10 Oct: Highlight #1: Max Litchfield (Spa) has been inching ever closer to Matthew Johnson all year. Each time Coach Wallace tells us he hopes Max will get the better of him at 100m Bc, up pops the multiple British Age-Group Record holder with something even more special than before.

Today was oh so close to being different.

Dead level breaking out of the 75m turn, for a brief moment Max appeared to be edging in front. Through the final 5m flags you couldn't separate them. Into the wall it went right down to the touch. Anxious faces darted up to the score board.

Just 0.1s split them apart!
Very, very close indeed. Nik Grainger: Minute Man!
Great performance Max (and well done to Matthew for just holding him off).

But they say winning is a habit. It's something you don't like to give up easily when you've dominated for so long. Maybe that was the difference today!

Before highlight #2, here's a brief interlude. A special mention needs to go to Nik Grainger (Spa). Today marked his first time under the magical minute for 100m Freestyle. He was accompanied to the touch by a huge ovation from the Loud and Proud. Fabulous to see you all paying such close attention to the personal battles going on in the pool.

Highlight #2: We couldn't let his reappearance racing for Dartes go without a mention. You had a taster last weekend at the Mets: old dude Dave is on fire at the moment. Dave Holmes leaving Binghamton Uni For any of you who still don't understand the importance of developing a strong underwater Butterfly kick, surely this morning's Butterfly Master Class put that to rest.

A full 15m off the start put him in the lead. We weren't sure how well he'd hang on through the race and we fully expected him to get caught (hmm, or maybe not), but on each turn he just pulled, or rather kicked, a little further in front. 15m every time, or close enough.

After an entry time that now seems absurd, 1:00.10, Dave Holmes (Arm) pulled out an awe inspiring 54 to take the Gold medal after just a month and a bit of training!

But he's a Fly swimmer, right?
He won't be up there in the Freestyle too, right?

The final heat of 100m Freestyle was loaded with the big boys from City of Sheffield. No disrespect to them, they are the very best in Yorkshire and in some seriously heavy training right now, but knowing the high quality of the field does make Dave's performance stand out even more. We honestly didn't expect to see what unfolded though, and very much doubt Dave did either (he did attribute a lot to the suit when he jumped out).

He didn't treat us to 15m turns this time, but the power around the walls was just immense. It's not just superb fly kicking skills you need for good turns, watch the monster pushoff, streamlining, and explosive break out stroke that Dave adds too. A lesson for all you young swimmers: this isn't natural talent, this doesn't just happen, this is the effect of session after session of hard work developing powerful turns during 3 years at University in the states!

You want to emulate those turns?
That's easy!
Do the very best, most powerful turns you can every chance you get in training!
As any good Meerkat would say: Simples!

Despite the best efforts of Andy (lead trumpeter) and his fellow cheerleaders clanging cowbells, hooting horns, and clacking rattles, they couldn't quite push Dave under 50s -- oh so close though and his 2nd Gold medal of the weekend.

Masters National Champs

Dave Holmes during his NCAA years in the states 6 Oct: It's been a while since Dartes were represented at Masters Nationals. A quick look through the record books suggests the last time might have been 2004 with Alistair Davies (Spa). Things should be put right in 2009 though with Dave Holmes (Arm) entered for the British Gas sponsored event in the 50m, 100m, 200m, and 400m Freestyle, with the 200m and 400m IM thrown in for good measure.

The beady eyed amongst you would have seen his championship record busting 200m IM at the Mets on Sunday, while also winning 100m Breaststroke in a time that left him just 0.16s shy of the decade old record held by Sam Seddon (Adw).

Despite having a few years away from Masters Nationals (a few of Doncaster's club swimmers have attended more recently) Dartes has a strong history at these championships. As recently as 2004, all 3 of our current lead coaches took part. The best placing that year was 5th in the 50m Breaststroke for Coach Kevin.

Duel in the Pool: North East vs North West

Molly Grayson, part of the North East Team for the Duel in the Pool 4 Oct: While you were all enjoying the Mets, the first weekend of England Talent Programme camps got underway with today's Duel in the Pool. It was a head to head meet between the best from the North East and the best from the North West and took place at Macclesfield.

Dartes had strong representation which included our Head Coach Andrew Wallace who worked alongside a number of other Head Coaches from the North East with the 13yr & under girls, and our Team Manager Amanda Davies who was fulfilling that same role for the North East team for the 2nd year in succession.

Also on the camp was former Dartes swimmer Sophie Taylor. Last season's 100m Breaststroke National Bronze medalist won today's 100m Breaststroke with a new PB of 1:14. Alongside her, and recently returned to Dartes, was Molly Grayson (Arm) swimming 3 individuals and 2 team events.

Max Litchfield, part of the North East Team for the Duel in the Pool Places on these teams are determined by placings and points at Nationals, so it will be no surprise to learn that Max Litchfield (Spa) was also selected. He managed to win the 200m Backstroke in a new best time of 2:07, and also competed in the 100m Backstroke and 2 team events.

The aim of the meet was to give swimmers an opportuntiy to race top class competition early in the season. Part of the talent programme's objectives is to capture video footage of each athlete's race that will be passed on to their home club coach. It will provide essential feedback with data relating to splits, stroke counts, and stroke rates that can be used to focus the athlete's training throughout the new season.

Channel Swimming

Laurin Weisenthal: Channel Swimmer 3 Oct: And now for something completely different ...

A decade ago a Dartes swimmer (his name unfortunately forgotten) completed a crossing of the English Channel. Last week, another name familiar to many readers of this website also completed that epic swim.

8 years ago we posted on this site an essay by a 17 year old Laurin Weisenthal. I'm sure many of you will have read The Journey of the Swimmer describing her early life in swimming. This evening her proud father emailed with the good news that 1 week ago Laurin swam the English Channel in the fastest time of the last 2 years: 8 hours and 33 minutes!

You might like to read Laurin's description of her Epic Day on her blog. For those of you with aspirations towards open water swimming it should give you a clue as to what's involved.