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News April 2010

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

Club Visit: Rossington

28 Apr: Earlier in the month at our Minster Meet, Assistant Coach Dave got chatting to Rossington's Coach Clive Greenhalgh. By the end of the day a club visit had been arranged for a Wednesday evening when all 3 of our lead coaches would be able to pop down to West End Lane to see how Rossington run their sessions.

RASCALS at our Minster Meet Streamlining and underwater Fly kick were the focus for the evening, important skills that swimmers at every level badly neglect. Here at Dartes it's one of the big things we focus on from JDS all the way through to our senior swimmers in Phase 5. There are big advantages to be had from it (if done properly) at every level of swimming.

It's always nice to see what our feeder clubs are doing and help them out where ever we can, but with 10 of them scattered around Doncaster it is tricky to fit them all in. For our Head Coach to visit each on a monthly basis for example, would drag him away from his own squad's evening sessions for the best part of 2 weeks! Clearly not feasible. When a club invites us to visit though, we do try to squeeze them in to our hectic schedule the best we can.

This week was the first available Wednesday for us all to visit Rossington. Clive was good enough to write a short summary of the evening for the website.

DARTES Visit The RASCALS

Wednesday 28th April offered our B and A squads something different; Andy, Dave and Kevin from DARTES came down to West End Lane to offer some guidance to our teachers and the swimmers.

The B squad session kicked off with Ian and Clive introducing the DARTES team to our swimmers and bringing them up to speed with their abilities and it was not long before the DARTES boys got stuck in to the challenge. All three coaches have a great deal of experience and the swimmers revelled in having new ideas and skills as well as the increased focus that additional teachers can offer.

In A squad the same model was followed and our swimmers swam up to the challenge of a butterfly leg kick session with relish and we can all see that mastering and honing this important skill will be hugely beneficial in their swimming career.

Many thanks to Dave, Andy and Kev for giving their time and energy to our club.

Bleep Test Challenge

25 Apr: Another big theme that ran through yesterday's coach workshop at Loughborough was that swimmers need to be more athletic. Not just Swim Fit, but generally Athletic.

One funny story from the workshop involved Liam Tancock and Lizzie Simmonds turning up to training one morning with stiff shoulders. The cause: a hand stand competition the previous day where neither of them would let the other win! How old are these guys, hand stands, seriously? Two World Class Backstrokers, one is the World Record holder, the other is currently World Ranked Number 1 this year! Hand stands - there's clearly method in this madness.

Whether it's Running, Jumping, Skipping, Cycling, Rock Climbing, or working on Balance doing Hand Stands, both Ben Titley and Ian Armiger stressed the need for swimmers to be more Athletic!

We couldn't agree more.

Elliot Looking Athletic in Sardinia While our coaching team travelled down to Loughborough for the day, we left the swimmers in the capable hands of Steve Dodson (and his team of recorders) all set for our first bleep test of 2010.

15mtr distance 12 and under

Name Level
Chloe8.3
Charlie9
Mark12.1
Heidi12.3
Joe12.5
Shannon13.5
Beth13.9

20mtr Distance 13 and above

Name Level
Holly5.2
Jess6.5
Kelly6.7
Kimberly7.2
Farrah7.2
Emma7.6
Keagan7.6
Oliver8
Arron8
Nicky8.2
Rachael8.6
Alex9.2
Jack9.5
Richard9.5
Tom9.8
Elliot11.5
Luke11.10

Well done Athletes, copy your results in to your log books for next time. Thanks to Steve, Helen, and Angie for your efforts running this challenge.

A Long, Long Day for our Coaches

24 Apr: For 8 of Doncaster's coaches, today proved to be a long one. For Head Coach Andrew, Assistant Coach Dave, and Coach John the day began on deck at Adwick at 6am - as most Saturdays do. Dave Holmes also managed to dive in to the pool around about the same time. It finished some 12 hours later as we all pulled into Adwick's car park once more at around 6pm.

Doncaster's Coaches Heading to Loughborough The reason for the long day: Loughborough University's Coaches Workshop.

Leaving immediately after morning training, we left Land Training in the capable hands of Steve Dodson and his bleep test. We were also joined just after 8am by more of the Dartes coaching team in the form of our other Assistant Coach Kevin, Edlington's Head Coach Jeff Squires, Thorne's Sarah Green, and long time Dartes Coach and Meet Official Derek Fretwell.

Most people involved in swimming understand that Loughborough University is the place to be if you're serious about the sport. On arrival at the East Entrance to their campus the importance of sport in general at Loughborough was drummed home instantly. Outdoor courts and pitches for practically every sport are squeezed in everywhere. On our brief drive to the Beckwith Building we'd already lost count of how many pitches (or maybe we just got distracted by the ladies' cricket team warming up in the sun). Between the 8 of us we've visited many British Universities in our time, but the facilities on offer here are uncomparable to other Universities that we've seen. For elite athletes, a truly inspirational place to be.

If the facilities are excellent, the list of speakers for today's workshop certainly did them justice (and all in-house Loughborough staff or students too). A real centre of excellence in every sense of the word. Director of Swimming for LU is the ever so passionate Ian Armiger, former Head Coach at City of Bradford, there's even a facebook page dedicated to "Bradford's Legendary God of Chlorine". Standing by the entrance, his welcoming greeting to every delegate was enough to show his immense pride at the World Class swim programme he's built up here over the past decade. His bubbling excitement while introducing each "Friend of the Swim Programme" to present their subject was infectious.

These are the quality speakers he'd organised for this year's workshop:

Prize for most entertaining speaker of the day (and a possible candidate for the same title across World Swimming) goes to Ben Titley. The photo on his BSCTA profile page says it all. The interview below is not as entertaining as today's off the cuff stand-up performance, but this video works by way of an introduction (courtesy of FloSwimming).

So what did we learn on our day trip?
If you do enough of these events the core subject matter is always pretty similar. It's the tiny little points of detail that make them different and interesting. The way coaches implement those similar ideas in many different ways and their reasons for those changes are always worth hearing. A new take on an old idea is often as good as a completely fresh concept. The questions that arise from the other delegates as a result of hearing about those unexpected methods can often lead to yet more new ideas days later. The sheer enthusiasm of the staff at Loughborough and their willingness to share experiences, advice, and knowledge is definitely worth experiencing and highly recommended for any coach to witness first hand.

Ian stressed time and time again: "what you see and hear on this workshop is exactly what happens here day in and day out. You're all more than welcome to drop in unannounced whenever you like to see what we're doing!" Too much of an invitation for Coach Wallace - he'll be popping down to take up that opportunity some time in the near future!

One thing that stood out though, was the go getting attitude demonstrated by Ben. He arrived at Loughborough as an undergraduate with an interest in coaching. He tells the story of how he arrived (at 18 or so), spoke to the Director of Swimming prior to Ian and, for want of a better phrase, forced himself on to the coaching team. The rest, as they say, is history. The implied lesson is a pertinent one for Doncaster Swimming: if you want to make something happen, grab the bull by the horns and have the courage, the confidence and the commitment to do it for yourself - no matter what age you are!

Oh, and we definitely need some good quality fun t-shirts and sweaters in addition to our formal polo shirts (by way of inspiration, there are a few examples below). Something our kids, coaches, and parents can wear casually to show off pride in their team and show off their status as top class swimmers to the wider community. I sense a t-shirt design contest brewing - get to it!

By way of inspiration

Maybe not with a big Smiley on the back like the entire team wears at Loughborough though. And you can't use the phrase: "Fast Swimming".

Reminding Everyone to Have Fun

IPC World Champs Team Announced

Selected for IPC World Champs Team 20 Apr: The IPC World Swimming Championships take place between 15-21 August in Eindhoven. British Swimming has just announced the team and we're delighted to report that our very own multiple European Record holder, [Name Removed] (Drn), has been included in that team.

The final consideration meet was last week's DSE British Internationals, where [Name Removed] performed brilliantly on Friday to win Silver behind Aquabears' Natalie Massey in the 100m Backstroke. In the morning's heats, [Name Removed] gave her fellow S14s a little scare by qualifying fastest for the evening's final.

She followed up on Sunday to qualify in the 200m Freestyle 3rd fastest among the S14 category. Then in the evening's multi-disability final was pushed into 4th by Israel's S5 athlete Inbal Pezaro.

A slimmed down programme of just two events for her this year. You'll remember that last year she did a much wider range of events. This time round it was all about gaining selection to the World Champs team, so a much tighter focus on those two events was called for.

Mission accomplished - well done [Name Removed].

Here's the Flying Dutchman, Pieter Van Den Hoogenband, to tell you all about the IPC World Championships.

Impressing Our Head Coach

17 Apr: It's not easy to impress Coach Wallace throughout a 90 minute session, but one member of Coach Kevin's Junior Development Squad managed to do exactly that on Friday night. Running around the poolside our Head Coach made sure everyone else witnessed the quality of turns being demonstrated by all of our stars of tomorrow, but highlighted one girl in particular.

Here's what he had to say:

Some of the Swimmers from JDS On a regular basis now I have been attending the Friday night Junior Development Squad session and getting stuck in to a bit of coaching with the lower end of the Dartes scheme. This helps me keep in touch with what the younger swimmers are up to and it allows me to spot any potential stars coming through the ranks at an early stage.

Over the past few months our aim has been to try to get the swimmers to adopt the skills and techniques that will give them every opportunity to be successful swimmers in the years to come.

On Friday I challenged the swimmers to produce their best turns, and on the whole they produced some very good underwaters with most swimmers making the flags or just beyond. That is quite good for 9-11 years, but one swimmer in particular grabbed my attention by consistently producing high quality turns throughout the session. Kathryn Shepheard (Adw) was in phenomenal form all night going about 8 metres on all turns in a fantastic streamlined position and was fast while performing 6 fly kicks instead of the 4 I asked for ... definitely one for the future.

This type of response is what I look for as a coach. I want all the swimmers in every squad at Dartes to perform like this every session. Whatever it is you're asked to do, do it so good that it sticks in your coaches mind.

This is how swimmers earn places in higher squads, by pushing themselves to the top of the list by doing whatever is asked of them and showing their long term potential.

Teaching kids to swim fast is the easy part. Them learning to listen and act on the instructions from their coach is the hard part.

How hard can you push your turns?
How good can you perform the techniques?
This is down to you, and only you can make it happen. Your coaches are the co-drivers, showing you the route to the finish, you're the one in the driving seat making it happen.

Who is going to raise the bar for the rest of your squad next time you're in the pool?
Will it be you?

Phoebe in the Papers

Phoebe in the Papers 15 Apr: After her medals at Yorkshires one proud supporter thought Phoebe Winter (Adw) deserved her moment of fame in a local newspaper. Who are we to argue.

But it raises a perennial question: why is Swimming so rarely featured in our local newspapers. Are our athletes less deserving than Footballers, Cricketers, or any of the other well publicized sports? Or do we just lack a willing volunteer to make it happen?

With our small core of volunteers already over stretched, it falls to the rest of you to make this happen. Go on, give it a go.

More NCAA Arguments for Dolphin Kick

6 Apr: NCAA Swimming Championships in the states always highlights the importance of good underwater fly kicking and this past week or so has been no different. Their college swim programmes tend to lead the world in innovative ways to push the sport forward with starts and turns at the forefront -- they need to be, NCAA Championships are swum over 25 yards!

Previously we've shown you Hill Taylor's exploits on Backstroke to demonstrate why it's so important, and we now have a few at Dartes looking pretty swift as well. Just to drum the message home further, below is an entertaining interview with Tom Shields of Cal Berkeley (courtesy of SwimmingWorld.tv) to tell us about his approach.

So next time your coaches ask you to perform 4 or 5 Fly kicks out of turns in training, don't just do it. Do it like there's a shoal of Piranhas snapping at your toes!

National Qualifying Fest at Derventio eXcel

5 Apr: It's bizarre how you can compete at the same pool as 90% of your other meets (Ponds Forge), but with a host club from a different region and end up battling against a completely different set of clubs. Not only that, but the usual bunch of officials (referees, judges, timekeepers) disappear and get replaced by a new set that you've never seen before.

Same old Ponds Forge.
Completely different world!

Officially the Best Supported Club at DX This Bank Holiday weekend turned into something of a National Qualifying fest at the 4th Derventio eXcel Open Meet. An opportunity for our guys to race the best from Derbyshire, the Midlands, and err, Dubai! Yes that's right, we were joined by a surprisingly pale bunch of kids from Dubai Leander -- clearly hoping to lap up some of South Yorkshire's Easter sunshine.

For those unfamiliar with DX, they are Derbyshire's Elite Swim Squad. Similar to Nottinghamshire's Nova Centurion and Lancashire's Gallica, but with a much cooler name. Still not as good as our name of course, and clearly they're not as proud either. As usual we decorated Ponds Forge like it was our home meet (actually not quite, if it was our home meet it would have been branded to the eXtreme).

There was a bigger banner than ours hanging from the balcony for Ellesmere College Titans. Competition perhaps, but we think that had been left over from the British Gas Championships the week before. Besides, that was only the biggest because we left the biggest banner in the North East at home. The mighty Gallica definitely weren't at the meet, but their banner was; another reminder of the previous week's action. A few boarding schools from the Midlands had posh, glossy banners on display too, no doubt looking to attract more talented kids on to their scholarships: The Royal Wolverhampton School being one of them. The best supported club award then, a tightly fought contest you're thinking?

Not a bit of it!

Not content with a single banner on one side of the pool, we had our usual banner on the usual side, supported by many of our new mini-banners. Across the other side, above the Omega suite, we had another medium sized banner (commonly known as the Minster Meet table cloth) and a few more of our mini-banners. Up in the stands, the British Gas Thunder Sticks being thwacked together were predominately our supporters with occasional interruptions from our newest instruments, the poster tubes.

We only had a small support team this weekend -- yes Derbyshire and the Midlands, this was Dartes feeling a little shy among strangers -- but we definitely got noticed. Best Supported Club award for Dartes then! Who else.

Joe and Jarvis cleaning up on 50m Freestyle at DX - Memories of Yorkshires Despite all the new names and faces though, some things never change, and we're not talking about Joe and Jarvis cleaning up on the penultimate event: Gold and Silver in the 50m Freestyle. Sitting beside us all weekend were our old friends Cleethorpes and Scunthorpe. Where did we find ourselves in the Top Club competition? Right next to Cleethorpes and Scunthorpe of course, just like the last two years at Yorkshires. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

3rd Top Club behind City of Derby (essentially the hosts) and City of Sunderland suggests we had a good meet. 7 New National Qualifying Times spread between 5 swimmers over the 2 days would back that up. 5 of those NQTs have never been achieved by that swimmer previously, and for Jarvis Parkinson (Tho) the first ever NQT for Thorne Tigers and himself came in the 200m Butterfly - eXcellent!

We also added to our collection of Animals this weekend. Oliver Richardson (Edl) swam his first ever 200m Butterfly touching in 2:55.04. First one under his belt, it gets easier from there.

With strong performances from the usual suspects, it's tough to get a mention on the website these days. Oliver managed it though. Worth noting that a couple of years ago Nick Grainger (Spa) would have been unlikely to find his name mentioned either. There probably aren't many that realise this, but 2 years ago he was struggling to qualify for NERs let alone Nationals. How many of our younger athletes see Nationals as a distant dream, an impossible step that they'll never reach? Nick made it, and so can you!

Oliver joins the Animal Squad Man on a Mission: Nick now has 4 NQT Last year he was probably the last boy in the country to qualify. It went right down to the final weekend at NERs, postponed for a week or so due to flooding. He sneaked under the 800m Freestyle time. This year no such nail biting.

Stronger, faster and crucially, more determined than ever, Nick has recorded 4 National Qualifying Times over the last 2 weekends. Today's pair were the 400m IM and 200m Breaststroke. Last weekend he repeated his 800m Freestyle NQT at the half way split towards also qualifying for the 1500m. A good eXample for any young swimmer with ambition who finds themself further down the hierarchy than they would like. Hard work and determination conquers all!

Another demonstration of eXcellence from Max Litchfield (Spa) qualifying for 100m Butterfly this afternoon. That leaves him just 50m of Freestyle short of the full set -- 13 NQT for Max so far this season!

Another swimmer who rarely received a mention until this year is Emma Humphreys (Ros). Years of desperately chasing NQTs are finally behind her. Yesterday, eXceeding our eXpectations with a 5sec PB, she earned her second NQT of the season so far in the 400m IM. Two NQTs in two Animal events (200m Fly and 400m IM)!

Charlie: Heading in the right direction Chloe Hardy: 4 big PBs from a demanding schedule Our 11 year old double act are usually around the headlines somewhere and this weekend more than most. We've already mentioned Jarvis' 200m Butterfly NQT, but Joe Litchfield (Spa) beat him to the Gold medal by over 10sec to claim one for himself too (the age above Jarvis at Nationals). Earlier today Joe secured his first NQT of the season in the 200m Backstroke with another Gold medal. Add to that a strategic (eyes on the BAGCATs) Gold for the 50m sprint Freestyle to walk away the eXalted winner of the 11 years boys BAGCATs award. Jarvis finished 3rd and Charlie Casson (Adw) 17th after some solid performances from him which included 5sec best times for 100m Butterfly and 400m IM.

An important lesson for many of our younger swimmers to learn from this weekend. Swim downs are eXtremely important at the best of times, but when you have a lot of swims in one weekend they're essential. Don't eXpect PBs to happen unless you've prepared meticulously, and a good quality swim down after each and every event is part of that process. A lesson for less eXperienced parents too, don't try to rush off after your last event, make sure your young athletes have chance to swim down correctly!

Final lesson of the day: always take the positive!
Over the course of a weekend where your son or daughter might swim close to 10 events, they're not all going to be PBs, and some won't even be close. There are skills to develop and tactics to learn and plenty of mistakes to be made along the way. Focus on the things that went right, don't dwell on what went wrong.

Finleigh: putting times on the board for new events Oswald: a weekend of strong performances For a few of our youngstars this was a busy and eXhausting meet. Chloe Hardy (Adw) swam 11 events, including the 400m Freestyle and three 200m swims too. Four big PBs (2.49sec, 4.46sec, 4.72sec, and 5.69sec) the mark of a successful weekend from her demanding schedule.

Finleigh Dukes (Tho) similarly eXcelled in her 10 events with a 200m Freestyle PB of over 12sec. She needs to remember to keep her head still, but apart from that, a solid weekend's racing. Natasha Crow (SAS) swam close to recently set PBs in her 8 events. Her remarkable run of massive PBs was never going to continue forever, a 3sec PB over 100m Freestyle adequate reward for this weekend. Oswald Hood (Adw) stepped up for another 8 events, and lowered his 200m IM time by over 5secs. Solid performances by each, across a range of strokes and distances.

Which brings us nicely back to the BAGCATs. For those still wondering what the British Age Group CATegory awards are all about, it's a competition designed to identify and congratulate the top performing athlete in each age group and discourage early stroke specialisation. Each swim is awarded a number of points and each event is placed in one of 5 categories: Freestyle, Form Stroke, Sprints, Medley, and occasionally 100s. Each swim scores a number of points, and a competitor's highest scores in each category are added together to find an overall winner.

Now you see why Joe and Jarvis made sure they each entered a sprint event this weekend. Winning Gold and Silver in the 50m Freestyle helped them finish 1st and 3rd in the 11 year olds BAGCATs. Strategic planning from our young boys.

The mix of events (and 4 Silver medals) swum by Caitlin Dixon (Arm) earned her the runner up award for the 12 years. While another boy climbing the improvement ladder towards a possible assault on National Times next season, Luke Shpylka (SAS) was 3rd in the 13 years boys and also earned the announcer first prize for Most Imaginatively Pronounced Surname. That's not an official competition quite yet, but one we think should be added to every meet in the future!

Finally, a big thank you to Derventio eXcel for a well run and exciting meet, but most importantly, for all the drinks brought round for Coaches and Team Managers during the course of the weekend. It was appreciated.

Update: As an 11 year old, Jarvis also qualifies for the 100m Butterfly automatically with his 200m NQT. Sort of a Get One, Get One Free arrangement. So we actually have 8 events to add to our tally of entries for Nationals in July.

Small Schedule Changes Next Week (5 Apr - 9 Apr)

5 Apr: During the first week of cycle 3 (5th April - 9th April) we have a few small changes to Phase 5's training schedule. Please inform any one who might not read this.

Day am pm
Mon 5th Cancelled Cancelled
Tue 6th As Normal As Normal
Wed 7th n/a Start at 5.30pm
Thu 8th As Normal As Normal
Fri 9th Cancelled n/a
Sat 10th All back to normal

'Junior' Beacon Programme

3 Apr: It was a special one-off Beacon Programme at John Charles this morning. Rather than waste the session while the usual participants are away at the British Gas Championships, it was decided to run a taster session for the best under 13 year olds instead. As we hinted back in February the coaching team was likely to have a strong Dartes flavour to it and so it proved. Coach Wallace was invited to act as Head Coach for the day leading a team of 5 lane coaches which also included Assistant Coach Dave Cuthbert.

Joe Invited to the Beacon Day In the pool we had some of the best young swimmers in the region mixed in together. Among them were our very own Joe Litchfield (Spa) and James Mullen (Arm). A nice opportunity for swimmers from different clubs to mingle and get to know their competitors. Predictably, on arrival they split themselves up along club lines: a gaggle of yellow Leeds caps in one corner, a bunch of dark blue Hull caps under the Score Board, another collection from BoK in another corner, and everyone else huddled together chatting to whoever they swum against at Yorkshires. First task then: split them all up!

The benefit to the swimmers of getting together and training with their peers is obvious (similar in fact to the role Dartes plays in Doncaster). But what about the benefit for coaches? For 6 of Yorkshire's top coaches to attend (and we did have Senior coaches from 4 of the top 6 Short Course programmes) they must have got something out of it. When people think of coach development very few see far beyond formal courses leading to recognised qualifications. But as Terry Dennison (coach to Adrian Moorhouse, our last Olympic Champion before Rebecca Adlington) stressed throughout his level 3 Senior Coach Course last year, coaches probably learn more from simply working alongside and chatting to each other than they do from those formal courses.

And he was dead right.

James Invited to the Beacon Day This morning both head coaches from our closest rivals at Yorkshires, the Cleethorpes and Scunthorpe 'CASA' partnership, were there too. We may be close rivals (we pipped them to 4th place this year, they pipped us in 2009), but that didn't stop us discussing techniques, skills, and training methods with Dan Higgon (Cleethorpes) and Dave Leeway (Scunthorpe) throughout the morning.

Over the other side of the pool (10 lanes is a long way) Coach Wallace was having similar discussions with Nick Mills from Kingston upon Hull and Debbie from Borough of Kirklees. It's a chance to bounce ideas off each other and see how everyone else works; an opportunity coaches don't get very often working in isolation, as is so often the case, in their own programme.

But that's exactly what swimming is like the world over. The vast majority of world class programmes, be they club or college or centre of excellence, welcome visiting coaches on to their poolside with open arms. Here at Dartes we're no different. We actively encourage Head Coaches from our feeder clubs to pop along to our training sessions to work along side us, learn from us, and hopefully teach us a thing or two too.

More importantly than that though, any of Doncaster's aspiring young coaches (or old ones for that matter) who want to stretch themselves to develop their coaching and see what the next step up from their feeder club is all about, are also more than welcome to pop along. Don't be shy! Coach Development is critical for moving the whole of Doncaster Swimming forwards and you could all have a big role to play in that process. Don't forget, all three of our current lead coaches at Dartes started coaching in our feeder clubs (two are former Head Coaches of those clubs).

Coach Education is so much more than attending formal courses. Here's an interview with the late, great Richard Quick to put that message across far more eloquently. Richard was one of the most successful college coaches in the states (with 12 NCAA Championships to his name) as well as coaching on 6 USA Olympic teams. He kind of knows his stuff. Be sure to pay attention, there's a very important message in the last 30seconds!

Oswald Selected for IAPS National Final

6th Fastest Qualifier for IAPS National Final 1 Apr: One of our young stars of the future has been selected to compete at the IAPS National Finals. Oswald Hood (Adw) earned his place during heats swum around the country to find the top 16 swimmers in each event from all over the UK. His time ranked him 6th fastest.

The National final takes place next month, and Oswald will be representing his school at 25m Breaststroke. we'd all like to wish him the best of luck in the event.