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News February 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

The Bronze Age Continues at Weekend 2 of Yorkshire BAGCATS

28th Feb: More strong performances at the 2nd weekend of Yorkshires saw us bring home another 8 Bronze medals along with a Silver and 4 Golds. Last year was a pretty phenomenal year, with our current 15 year old boys winning a sack full of Golds along side Sophie dominating the Breaststroke events. 2009 was always going to be tough to emulate, especially when you consider that now the boys have moved up to Juniors their chances for winning medals are greatly diminshed (double year age groups plus a single weekend championship instead of 3). And obviously Sophie has moved on too.

Yet despite that, during the first weekend we won more medals than the same weekend in 2009, and this weekend we matched last year's weekend 2 total of 13 medals. Admittedly, the colours have changed (mostly to Bronze), but overall, our points total of 67 compares very favourably with last year's 52! Points are scored Gold 3, Silver 2, Bronze 1.

So who won those medals, and how did they manage it?

Mark collecting an NER medal Before the weekend started, there were a number of swims that promised to deliver a challenge to Jamie's possible Performance of the Year last week. In the boy's 10 years 200m Backstroke we had high hopes of Mark Beech (Spa) defending his title and going home with the Doncaster Dartes sponsored shield that we donated last year (in anticipation of Mark's performance this year perhaps).

Mark didn't disappoint with a near 2sec victory over Harrogate's Angus Lister who was coming back fast down the last 25m. But with Mark spending most of his time looking at the opposition and just pacing his efforts accordingly, the much hoped for fireworks never really exploded. A pity really, it would have been nice to see just how close he could have got to his NQT - the current 10sec gap could have been reduced dramatically. Still, it was a brilliant Gold medal after another solid performance in the dreaded 400m IM earlier in the day. Well done Mark.

Two more of the anticipated swims involved Joe Litchfield (Spa) in the 200m Breaststroke and 200m Backstroke. Two more fine performances and two more Gold medals, but just like with Mark, Joe did just enough to win the Backstroke when National Qualifying should have been his priority. Still, that's 2 Golds for Joe.
Not 1, but 2!
With the sprints still to come, that puts him in a strong position for the BAGCATS award.

Joe won 2 Golds While those much anticipated swims didn't quite deliver the fireworks we'd hoped for, a rather unexpected one did. The swimmer in question deserves a special mention anyway. Unlike many who pick and choose events to swim Caitlin Dixon (Arm) bravely entered every event on the programme. From the 50m sprints all the way up to this weekend's 1500m Freestyle. Not only that, but other than an unfortunate incident with goggles snapping behind the blocks of the 100m Backstroke last weekend, she has, so far, reached the finals in each one too.

She just missed out on the medals in Saturday's 400m IM to take one of our many 4th places, but that swim along with Sunday's 1500m makes her only the 3rd swimmer to compete at all 4 Animal Squad events this season!

In the 100m Butterfly she lowered her previous Long Course PB 1:15.75 (remember that time) by 5sec to add to our growing collection of Bronze medals in 1:10.80. The first 3 girls were split by just 0.21sec in a very tight finish with two girls from the City of Leeds. That performance puts her within a second and a bit of another NQT. With PBs of this magnitude, who'd bet against her claiming one of them by NERs?

Sunday morning saw her have another crack at 200m Butterfly. It takes a few attempts to get the hang of this event. Firstly you need to find out that you can actually complete it. And then discover that you can also complete it Long Course! Next you can start thinking about the pacing of it. Then, and only then, should you decide whether you like it.

In the heats Caitlin went out hard and earned herself lane 5 next to fastest qualifier, and overwhelming favourite, Rebecca Mottershaw from City of Leeds (one of the two who beat her at the 100m). Although 4secs adrift of the Leeds girl, her 3sec cushion over 3rd placed Anthonia Heseltine from City of Sheffield suggests that she probably is starting to like this event - sort of. The Gold medal should be pretty much a walk through for the Leeds girl - but it would be nice to have a different coloured medal this weekend if Caitlin can defend her 2nd place status.

The final arrived and straight out of the blocks it was clear that Caitlin was on a mission. She touched at 50m in first place, half a second up on the field. Down the next 50m we were starting to wonder if she'd mistakenly thought this was another 100m race as she touched in 1:13.70. Compare that with her previous 100m PB that you remembered earlier! 2secs faster, and more importantly, 2secs faster than everyone else in the field.

No way could she hold this pace. Rebecca, next to her in lane 4, must have been expecting her to die a thousand deaths down the next 50m. So did we.

An occasional tired stroke crept in down the next 25m which we thought signalled the end of this particular adventure, but each time it was followed up by another strong, powerful stroke as if to say: "No way am I giving up now!". Despite what everyone thought was going to happen, Caitlin hadn't read the script - that painful death never did happen!

A valiant fight back by Rebecca but Caitlin was still the best part of 2secs up at 150m and looked exceptionally strong. By now the odds on favourite must have realised she had a fight on her hands. She'd qualified fastest with a comfortable 4sec cushion. She can't have expected much of a challenge and when it materialised probably hadn't expected Caitlin to be able to hold on - neither had we! Stroke by stroke the Leeds girl inched her way back down the final 50m but it wasn't going to be enough as Caitlin was hanging on to her lead.

At 25m to go the lead had been reduced, but not by much.
10m left it was getting close, but the race was still Caitlin's.
5m we were getting a bit nervous.
4m still good - just.
3m she's only going to go and win Gold!
2m getting a bit too tight.
Then with the final stroke, a hesitation and misjudged finish. One more stroke, or kick for the wall? It was the tiniest of mistakes. All but unseen. It was just enough to lose the Gold medal by 0.17sec.

A stunning swim by Caitlin that will definitely see her in the mix for Performance of the Year along side Jamie's 800m Freestyle from last weekend. Crucialy, that swim and massive improvement (nearly 20sec) now puts her within 2secs of yet another NQT for the summer.

Last thing on Sunday she joined Rachael Grainger (Spa) in the 1500m Freestyle. In the final mixed heat, Rachael was up against 9 boys in the hunt, not for Gold, but for her first National Qualifying Time. Splitting each 50m just over half a second off the required pace helped her to a big PB but leaves her with another 4 months of hard work to qualify for both distance Freestyle events. By consolation, the Gold medal was easily hers by over 20secs.

In an earlier heat, Caitlin had completed her first ever 1500m for another Bronze medal, after an exhausting 20min tussle with one of the Cleethorpes & Scunthorpe boys. That leaves her within 30sec (1sec per 50m) of NQT.

As a bit of a warm up to the 1500m, Rachael enjoyed a 200m battle against former team mate Molly Grayson (now back with City of Sheffield). At the 150m turn Rachael touched 0.12secs ahead of Molly having been a shoulder behind up until that point. The final length produced a close fight between the two but Rachael just missed out on Silver by 0.03secs. It seems destiny will only allow us Bronze medals this year.

Two more came courtesy of first time medallist Rebecca Jarvis (Spa) in the Breaststroke events. Qualifying 8th in the 200m, she managed to claw herself to the wall ahead of a group of 3 girls to claim the last of the medals. In the 100m version she qualified 3rd and defended that position inside the final 15m in another close finish.

Joe added another two in the 200m Butterfly and the 400m IM. Jarvis Parkinson (Tho) joined him in the final of the 200m Butterfly to finish 5th.

Rebecca presented with Bronze at Harrogate There were good performances by our young girls too. Phoebe Winter (Adw) sneaked into the medals for the 200m IM, you guessed it, another Bronze. While team mates Tyler Dodson (Adw) and Amber hardy (Adw) finished 5th and 6th.

Amber's big sister Chloe hardy (Adw) had another crack at the 200m Butterfly and was then awarded a spot in the final for another 200m Butterfly in the same session, which she clearly relished - not! A tough call for her but she battled away brilliantly for 6th place.

So with just one weekend to go, we're ahead on points from last year. We need more Golds from the 50m sprints though if we're going to climb up the overall table. It's going to be tight and everyone on the team needs to be fighting for Gold in March. Don't settle for any more Bronze - we have quite enough of those already!

Performance of the Year perhaps, as Bronze age returns to Yorkshire?

22nd Feb: Come our presentation evening towards the end of the season, there will be an award for performance of the year. Previous winners have been Sophie Taylor (Arm) and Shannon Dodson (Spa). This weekend, the opening weekend of Yorkshire BAGCAT Championships, saw a definite contender for the 2010 title.

Luke stepped up for his first Yorkshire medal Two boys stepped up this weekend to try and fill the shoes of Max, Rich, and Nik now that they've moved to Junior competition. It's a tough challenge for them considering that neither has won major championship medals in the past. But they would have each other for company in each of the events they were to contest this weekend.

First to shine was Luke Shpylka (SAS). The second event of Saturday morning saw him record a 3sec best time (since last month) over 200m Freestyle. That earned him 2nd spot going in to the final. Team mate Jamie was some way back in 24th and James Mullen (Arm) a bit behind him in 28th.

In the final, Luke delivered another pounding to his PB sheet as he dropped it to 2:10.21 for the Silver medal. First Yorkshire medal and a big PB - performance of the weekend? Nope!

Not to be outdone Jamie Clarke (Arm) then retaliated in the 100m Butterfly. Qualifying for the final in 7th place, he went on to knock a further 2secs off that time to finish 4th in 1:09.17. An improvement over the same meet last year of around 12secs! Good effort Jamie, but still not the performance we're talking about.

James was touched out of the medals in the 200m Backstroke Then in the second event of the afternoon, all three of our 13 year boys were in action again. The 200m Backstroke heats was the stage and our boys qualified for finals with James 3rd, Jamie 4th, and Luke 5th. In the heats Jamie Clarke obliterated his previous Long Course PB to finish in the middle of his team mates. In the final he went on to smash even this new time by a further 5secs to snatch the Bronze medal and push James into 4th.

Unlike Luke, whose earlier 200m Freestyle time was within 2secs of the 13 years NQT, Jamie will still be 13 for Nationals and his performance of 2:29.85 brings him within 4secs of the standard needed in the summer. Another weekend smashing PBs by this margain and he may well make it!

So, massive PB, within shooting distance of NQT, and his first ever major championships medal. Performance of the weekend you might think.
Still no!

Later in the afternoon both boys had the 400m Freestyle. Jamie had recorded a PB in the 200m event earlier, but it was Luke who was looking like the in-form Freestyler this weekend. The 400m confirmed that. Luke was inched out of the medals by 0.32sec to touch 4th with Jamie 20secs back in 18th. Both boys recording PBs.

And there we left them until Sunday afternoon. Both having stepped up to win their first medals with a couple of superb performances, while just missing out on more silverware with some more strong swims.

The final showdown was to be the 800m Freestyle, and judging by the Freestyle form from Saturday Luke would be the man to watch.

The 800m Freestyle Showdown

It wasn't just about those two boys though, in all we had 9 contesting the big event and we started off with Chloe Hardy (Adw) and Sophie Hame (SAS) in the early heats.

Her first 800m Freestyle, but the first of many for Chloe? Chloe's dad proudly stood in the stands, camcorder in hand, filming every agonizing length for her to enjoy later. She had the target of hitting 44sec 50m pace throughout, and but for a tired 100m section in the middle she pretty much managed it. An excellent first attempt for Chloe to finish 10th in 11:43.65.

Heat 2 saw Sophie trying to hit a slightly faster pace of 43sec per 50m. Not much of a difference you might think, but that tiny second works out at 16sec faster over the course of the race! Again, that demoralising 100m just after the half way point often marks a gentle decrease in speed and so it proved. With dad Stuart doing a Jez Grainger impersonation while hanging over the balcony, Sophie ploughed out her rhythm to finish 9th in 11:28.26.

Good job girls, well done.

Then we had a bit of a gap before our heat of 4. The boys were to be joined by Shannon Dodson (Spa) and Heidi Smith (Ros) in this mixed event. They'd all practiced their pacing in the warm up with a few 50m and 100m timed swims to get the pace right. The boys had settled on 36sec, the girls for 38.

After his Freestyle performances the day before, Luke was loudly confident and looking forward to another opportunity to step up and snatch a medal. He was even talking about National times! A bit ambitious maybe, but that's what we like -- clearly Luke was up for this.

Inseparable, on deck and in the pool too Jamie, by contrast, was his usual quiet self. A couple of heats before his own, he jumped into the diving pit for a pre-race warm up then climbed out and strolled back to the team focused on the job at hand.

The boys had a challenge and they were going to attack it head on.

The swimmers lined up behind the blocks. The coaches prepared to run up and down the poolside for the next 10mins signalling feedback to the 2 boys (Coach Dave) and 2 girls (Coach Kevin) in an attempt to keep them on pace. Team Manager Pete was set for a frantic 10mins of writing down and calculating lap times. We were ready.

What we weren't ready for was how the first 50m developed. This was the last event, so no surprise that this is the undisputed performance of the weekend. Luke's Freestyle form so far had been pretty special, he'd gone in to this event confident of a good time and his split at 50m confirmed that (32.46). Up until 6 months ago his 100m split of 1:07.98 would have matched his Long Course PB. A very good start by Luke then.

A hard fought 200m Backstroke earned Jamie his first Yorkshire medal But it had to be, his team mate Jamie had left the blocks on a mission. Taking everyone by surprise (coaches included) he was over half a body length up at the first turn with Luke scrambling to stay with him in the next lane. By the 100m turn both boys had pulled clear in their heat and were settling down to their target pace.

By the half way point Jamie had earned himself a clear water lead over Luke, with everyone else out of sight. Once or twice Luke appeared to be pulling Jamie back towards him. But if the clear water disappeared briefly, Jamie quickly pulled away once more like a boy possessed.

The pace was relentless. Lap after lap bang on the target pace they'd chosen a couple of hours earlier. At the half way point we'd given up on the theory that Jamie had gone out too fast and it was all about how much support we could give the pair of them to keep going.

By the end, Jamie's lead earned on the first 50m had been extended to 2secs for a truly awesome Silver medal in 9:32.28. That's just 8sec away from his NQT or 1sec per 100m! Luke, 2secs back for 4th best 13 year old (9:34.76), would spend the rest of the afternoon watching intently as the remaining heats unfolded and he could celebrate every time a 13 year old finished slower than his time.

Jamie's 200m split time was 3sec faster than his individual 200m Freestyle. His 400m split, an astounding 17secs faster than his individual 400m! Both of which were Long Course best times in their own right.

Performance of the weekend goes to Jamie then and a definite contender for Performance of the Year in the summer.

With Shannon and Heidi in that heat too we had two more strong performances. Finishing 7th and 8th with a big PB for Heidi and a first ever time for Shannon they earned Dartes as many top 8 placings (12 year girls) as City of Sheffield and City of Leeds.

Rachael won Silver in last year's 1500m Another solid 800m performance by Caitlin earns the 2nd of her 2 Bronze Then in the next heat Caitlin Dixon (Arm) showed them both how to do an 800m as she fought her way to a Bronze medal to go with the one she won in the 100m. Not only a Bronze medal, but 0.40sec outside the 12 year old NQT too. Spring birthdays are such a pain! Never the less, 3 Dartes girls in the top 8 of an 800m Freestyle is fantastic -- well done all.

Next up was the experienced Rachael Grainger (Spa) chipping away at her NQT bit by bit. She led her heat from the start and was bang on NQT pace at half way (4:44.49). Alas, the 2nd half proved tough and she fell short by just 6 seconds. Had she stayed with Bridlington's Grace Dennis who made a push at the 400m turn to first catch Rachael and then slowly pull away from her in the back half, an NQT would be hers.

In the end, Grace took Silver leaving Rachael with a well deserved Bronze. There's plenty of time for Rachael yet though. Another few months of hard training and the all important attention to detail that makes such a big difference on the distance events, and the backend will surely take care of itself before long.

So, out of our 9 swimmers in the 800m we came back with a Silver and 2 Bronze. You might have noticed that all 8 we've mentioned so far have finished in the top 10! We still have Elliot Trofimowicz (Spa) to go and he wasn't about to ruin that streak.

Inspired by Jamie, Elliot went out fast on the first 50m. His slow, steady stroke rate is much more suited to distance Freestyle than the sprints and he beat out a steady rhythm of 35sec. He touched in a very respectable 9:18.33 to claim a hat trick of Dartes Bronze and managed a celebratory punch in the air after glancing up at the score board for his time

In addition to the fine performances in the pool, it was good to have a number of coaches from our feeder clubs come along and join in. Sarah Green (Tho) is now an old hand helping out at meets and took charge of the swim down pool for most of the weekend in addition to running back and forth timing this that and the other.

Edlington's Head Coach Jeff Squires joined us poolside South Axholme's Head Coach Kevin Dunne joined us poolside He's regularly found on the poolside with JDS on Tuesday evenings, but it's been a good few years since Jeff Squires (Edl) popped along to Yorkshires. He spent all day Saturday with us timing turns, measuring stroke rates, and also making sure the swim downs were being done properly.

A very welcome newcomer to the Dartes coaching team was Kevin Dunne (SAS). We're not sure he expected to have a stopwatch thrust in his hand and to be given a job to do but he also went off measuring stroke rates and timing turns for us.

A big thank you to all three. Your help allows us to analyse races in much more detail and hopefully the experience was of benefit for you too. Any other coaches from our feeder clubs who want to get involved are more than welcome to join us at meets. Whether a Head Coach or a less experienced coach with passion for the sport, just get in touch and we'll organise a suitable time and place.

Which just leaves us with a special mention for the young girls winning medals in the 200m Butterfly. Out of 6 competitors, 3 were from Dartes. Amber Hardy (Adw) would have picked up Bronze had it not been for a DQ; cruel we say, but the youngest competitor having only recently turned 9 will fight that one out another day. Never mind, Phoebe Winter (Adw) claimed the Silver medal in the 9 years.

Finleigh Dukes (Adw) grabbed the 10 years Bronze as well with another 10sec best time. Well done girls.

Adwick Pool Closure - Training Changes

22nd Feb - 7th Mar: Due to the closure of Adwick for two weeks a number of sessions are to be rearranged. These affect morning sessions and the Sunday afternoon JDS session.

We've been able to cover all the lost hours at other venues so no one should use this as an excuse to drop hours. The two alternative venues being used are Askern and Thorne. We realise Thorne is a bit of a change in direction for many of you in the North of Doncaster, but for others it may prove easier to get to. It's a bit of an experiment so please take it in your stride.

Mon 22nd Feb5:00-7:00Askern
Tue 23rd Feb5:00-7:00Askern
Thu 25th Feb5:00-7:00Thorne
Fri 26th Feb5:00-7:00Thorne
Sat 27th Feb6:00-8:00Thorne
Sun 28th Feb12:30-14:30Askern (JDS)
Mon 1st Mar5:00-7:00Askern
Tue 2nd Mar5:00-7:00Askern
Thu 4th Mar5:00-7:00Thorne
Fri 5th Mar5:00-7:00Thorne
Sat 6th Mar6:00-8:00Thorne
Sun 7th Mar15:00-17:00Askern (JDS)

In the unlikely event that the plans for morning sessions are changed, it'll be posted here just as soon as we know about it, so check back occasionally.

Head Coach and Chairman Visit City of Sheffield

17th Feb: On Tuesday night Head Coach Andrew Wallace and Chairman Chris Hirst popped over to Sheffield for a friendly meeting with City of Sheffield Head Coach Russ Barber. On the agenda were a number of issues relating to Swim21 links and coach/swimmer/club development. We'll spare you the boring details.

During the meeting Andy got to cast his critical eye over Sheffield's Senior National Squad as Coach Barber put them through a speed set. Here's what he had to say:

Chairman Chris Hirst and Head Coach Andy Wallace I watched Russ taking the City of Sheffield Senior National Squad through a Speed (Lactate Production/Tolerance) set. Swimmers worked at front end 100m pace and between backend 200m-100m pace. During the set the main focus was on replicating the exact skills, techniques, stroke rates, stroke counts, and pacing that would be used during competition at the upcoming British Championships.

City of Sheffield swimmer Andrew Shepherd was at hand to do the tricky and messy job of lactate testing after each set. This helps gauge how the swimmers were performing and helps Russ work out the best way to continue developing the sessions and sets to get the best out of his athletes in the build up to the tapered meet.

After the pool work I watched the land training routine which involved medicine ball work.

The thing that really impressed me was how the Senior Sheffield swimmers are supportive of each other during training. They tried to encourage each other to do better as they worked. A certain European Junior Champion was heard shouting to a friend and team mate during the land work: "Come on, you want that medal!!!"

The majority of the swimmers were at Ponds Forge at least an hour before training to chat and have a laugh before getting down to buisness. It was good to see how much responsibilty they took for their own training and swimming careers. They obviously take a lot of pride in their own organisation and the attention to detail that each one of them puts in with their own stretching prior to and after each session. It was also obvious how much interest they take in the information Coach Russ gives during performance feedback.

Bargain Price on Gatorade

Orange Gatorade at Bargain Price 17th Feb: Through one of our many contacts we've managed to secure around 50 bottles (500ml) of orange Gatorade at the bargain discount price of 20p each! That's a massive saving over what you're all paying at supermarkets for the same or similar sports drinks.

Gatorade's special blend of electrolytes helps replenish those minerals swimmers lose in sweat during training and competition helping to guard against muscle cramps, fatigue, and heat stress. The 6% carbohydrate solution is considered by many experts to be the optimal percentage for speedily returning fluid and energy back to the body. It's a formula that's been tried and tested by athletes in many sports since 1965.

As if to demonstrate, the sprint boys from Auburn University were captured on film by FloSwimming during Brett Hawke's infamous, errr, puke set (yes you did read that right). Gatorade played a big part in that workout.

A word of warning: if you lack a warped/childish sense of humour, do not watch this video!

So there you have it.
Gatorade - the drink of champions (and Olympic champions at that).
Just don't drink 4 bottles all at once!

See Coach Dave for your bargain bottles. First come, first served.

Also make sure you pour the contents into a proper bottle for use on poolside. Do not bring these flimsy, plastic bottles to training!

Laying Down the Gauntlet

9th Feb: Well as you're probably aware, there's a points competition going on at Yorkshire Championships as well as Individual medals. There's the Yorkshire Bank Trophy for the top club at Senior/Junior Champs, and there's the George Lester Trophy for top club at Age Group Champs. Oh, you might also remember the B&I Trophy for Most Improved Club across both championships (we won that last year).

Last year we finished 5th overall.
The aim for this year has to be moving up to 4th.
So where do we rank after Seniors?

The official results sheet only showed the top 3 places (as of last night), and to be honest most people could probably have guessed those spots before the weekend even began. So we dug a little deeper and got hold of the full list.

1Co Leeds 121.5
2Co Sheffield 96
3Bo Kirklees 33.5
4Donc Dartes28
5KingstonHull 25
6Harrogate 21
7Co Bradford 20
8Rotherham Mo 16
8Clee & Scun 16
10Scarborough 14
11York City 9
11Skipton 9
13East Leeds 2
13Bo Barnsley 2
13South Holder 2
16South Hunsle 1
16Stocksbridge 1

The big Long Course programmes always seem to run away with the Senior Championships. Last year it was City of Sheffield ruling the roost. This year Dave Calleja seems to have got City of Leeds back on track to stick their name on the trophy that they've dominated since time began.

Third place though, Yorkshire's top Short Course programme, the Borough of Kirklees, who are definitely now within shooting distance of a resurgent Dartes team just 5 points behind them in 4th! Well done to our points scoring Senior/Junior medal winners Max Litchfield (Spa), Nik Grainger (Spa), Emma Humphreys (Ros), and Stephanie Hynes (Adw).

We can't get complacent though, age-group championships look set to be closer than ever. Last year's 4th place team Cleethorpes and Scunthorpe always bring a big strong team these days, and with Kingston upon Hull enjoying a similar revival to our own, and Rotherham Metro doing similar with a posh new Maltby pool it's going to be tough to keep hold of that 4th place spot.

It's over to you age-groupers. The Senior/Juniors have done their job now it's your turn!

Senior Yorkshires: Day 2

6 Feb:

Senior Yorkshires: Day 1

6 Feb: The jump between Age-Group National Qualifying Times and Senior Qualifying Times tends to come as a bit of a shock to many. It's no real surprise that our older guys haven't quite hit them so early in the Long Course season. But what is heart warming is how many of them are within shooting distance, especially Nik and Emma who are hunting down qualifying times they've never achieved before.

Emma, always close.  Will 2010 be her year? Nik Grainger edging closer to 2 NQTs for 2010 Nik Grainger (Spa) qualified for the 800m Freestyle last season but it went right down to the wire. His very last opportunity at the final weekend of NER Championships that had been postponed for a week or so due to flooding at Ponds Forge. This weekend he jumped up an age group and in his first Long Course attempt of the season missed out by just 2secs. Two seconds over 800m is peanuts and it earned him a well deserved Yorkshire Bronze (Junior category) as reward.

The 800m was his only NQT for last season and this Bronze is his first medal at a major Championships. But it wasn't to be his only medal, and nor does it look like the only event he'll be challenging for an NQT in for 2010. In the 400m IM Nik qualified for the final in 4th place just 1sec off the NQT. In the final a 4:59.46 earned him 7th place overall (Senior age-group) and another Bronze medal in the Juniors.

Emma Humphreys (Ros) is always close to NQTs by the end of the season, but never quite sneaks under them. Today was no different. A 1sec PB in the 100m Butterfly leaves her, once again, with less than 1sec between her and a National Squad shirt come July. This year's the year Emma, we're all behind you. She finished 10th in the final.

More Golds for Max Another British Record But it wasn't all about just missing NQTs and minor medals. There were other battles taking place today too. With disability World Championship teams being selected shortly, and a spot on a 2 week, National team, training camp in sunny Mallorca up for grabs [Name Removed] (Drn) had all to swim for. This is pretty much the first time she's competed at this level on equal terms with her able bodied counterparts. Qualifying via able-bodied time standards she was looking forward to taking a few scalps.

Her first came in the 200m Freestyle. A huge best time, 2:35.78, to finish 63rd out of 64. But that wasn't the headline!

She was ranked quite highly in S14 GB circles for the 200m Backstroke. But with the juicy carrot of a spot on the World Championships team and a sunny training camp dangling in front of her nose, what would she pull out of the bag? Well we're not entirely sure what happens now, but an S14 British Record by over 10secs was the result today and it must surely put her in strong contention for that GB squad. She already has a couple of European Records from last season, but they were both Short Course, this is the first biggie she's taken.

But wait, that's not all. You didn't think Max Litchfield (Spa) had stayed at home did you?

It's a shame the Senior programme is packed together so much tighter than the age-groups. It means swimmers have to be more selective over the events they swim and we miss out on some of the great show-downs between the big names.

In the 100m Freestyle Max and Richard Lee (Spa) both hit 56 point in the heats. So tight were the placings though, that Max qualified for finals in 7th place, and Richard, about 0.9sec behind finished 16th. In the final Max touched 4th and picked up Junior Gold just 0.12sec behind NQT. Despite the low position overall for Richard, he still finished 5th in the Juniors about 1sec away from his NQT.

Hunting an NQT for 2010, Matthew Davies Hunting NQTs for 2010, Richard Lee Normality resumed in the 100m Backstroke though. Max took Gold convincingly in both Senior and Junior age groups, along with an NQT. Returning to Dartes from his Beacon Programme spot in Norwich especially for Yorkshire Champs was 2009 National Squad member Matthew Davies (Arm). He also contested the 100m Backstroke final finishing 5th.

To quickly round up the other spots Stephanie Hynes (Adw) missed her 50m Freestyle NQT by about a half second to finish 16th overall but 8th in the Juniors. While Jacqueline Hood (Adw) had a bit of a battle with [Name Removed] in the 50m Backstroke. Her mum Louise was up in the stands keeping everyone up to date with progress via her twitter account (we couldn't let that go without a mention).

There were also solid performances by Kim Smith (Arm) in the 100m Breaststroke and 200m IM and Farrah Gaskell (Ros) in the 50m Backstroke. Both girls swum within a few 10ths of PBs in unfamiliar Long Course competition so well done to both.

Call up to Beacon

Joe To Get a Taste of Beacon Programme Training 4 Feb: On the 3rd April the majority of swimmers on the Beacon Programme will be competing at the British Gas Championships. The usual Beacon training session will therefore be a little pointless. Instead, the best 12 and 13 year olds in the North East are being invited to a special one off taster session. James To Get a Taste of Beacon Programme Training

The selection for this, as with most camps, is based on Medley rankings. In this case top 5 at 200m and 400m from the North East Region. Read those two sentences again and make sure you understand just how important IM performances are if you want a place on pretty much any of these special programmes.

On this one-off Saturday, we'll be represented by James Mullen (Arm) and Joe Litchfield (Spa). As the regular Beacon coaching team is also committed at the British Gas Championships, there's a strong possibility that we might be represented on deck coaching too.

Well Done 200m Flyers

4 Feb: We've only just turned 2010 but already we've had more swimmers competing at 200m Butterfly than any season in the past decade (we don't have records from earlier). With 7 months still to go there's every chance more of you will take up the challenge too. Caitlin Swam her 3rd 200m Butterfly of the season at Harrogate

2009/10 22 and counting
2008/09 16
2007/08 21
2006/07 17
2005/06 15
2004/05 3
2003/04 3
2002/03 2
2001/02 3
2000/01 2
1999/00 8

There will shortly be a page in the Honours Section to remember your achievements and to lay down a target for 2011. Be part of this record setting Animal Squad of Butterfly swimmers by simply entering a 200m Butterfly event this season (and finishing it)!

Max Selected for SportsAid Sponsorship

Max celebrates 3 Bronze Medals at Nationals 3 Feb: SportsAid has been providing financial assistance to Britain's top amateur athletes since 1976. With the arrival of National Lottery funding in 1997, SportsAid's role shifted focus to help the young stars of tomorrow across 50 able-bodied and 25 disability sports.

This year Max Litchfield (Spa) has been selected as one of their sponsored athletes. In addition, SportsAid and ASDA have teamed up for the "Asda Sporting Chance Athletes" initiative. Each ASDA store will be supporting their local sponsored athletes on a community level by carrying out fundraising activities.

There will be a workshop for Max at Elland Road on 18 March hosted by a world class sporting celebrity from the local area. They will share their experience of SportsAid support and the inspirational journey that they have taken to become a world class athlete.

Bags Full of Medals at Harrogate Open Meet

2 Feb: A few swimmers from each of our squads competed at Harrogate this weekend and came away with a bag of medals and some massive PBs!

Phoebe wins a Bronze medal The up and coming youngstars from JDS and the Age Group Squad did a fantastic job with medals for Phoebe Winter (Adw), Finleigh Dukes (Tho), Joshua Reasbeck (Edl), Tyler Dodson (Adw), Rebecca Jarvis (Spa), Tonika Holdsworth (Spa), Jarvis Parkinson (Tho), Caitlin Dixon (Arm), Jess Gillatt (Ros), and a Gold for Caragh Chambers-Hey (SAS) in the 50m backstroke.

Not to be outdone, Shannon Dodson (Spa), Jamie Clarke (Arm), Nik and Rachael Grainger (Spa), and Joe and Max Litchfield (Spa), from the Premier squad all came away with some hardware too!

Some big 20-30 second PBs from the Age Groupers in some of the 200m events and Nik Grainger just missing out on his 200m breaststroke NQT by 0.65 sec, Joe Litchfield missing out on his 200m backstroke time by 0.69 secs and Max on his 100m butterfly by only 0.02 sec!

Keep an eye on those National Times with the Yorkshire Championships coming up this month. Last year we had 354 entries for our first major Championships of the season. That was significantly more than recent previous years. Nik takes Silver but just misses his 200m Breaststroke NQT This year, Competition Secretary Peter Litchfield reports even more entries for the Age-Group Championships with even more competing at next weekend's Senior Champs.


Hopefully those NQTs that were slightly missed this weekend will be achieved at Yorkshires along with many more as the 2010 National Squad unfolds!

Especially for Asthma Sufferers

1 Feb: A small number of you suffer with asthma and clearly it can make training a little tougher. It's important to not let it get the better of you and don't let it hold you back. Many of the World's top swimmers also suffer just like you. One of them was so determined not to let his asthma get the better of him that he earned himself the reputation as one of the toughest training swimmers out there.

Tom Dolan was not only diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma, he also suffers from an obstructed windpipe which at times reduced his oxygen intake to around 20% of normal. Yet he's a double Olympic Champion, and not at a shoddy event either. Tom won the 400m IM in 1996 and again in 2000. On top of that, to this day he's still the most dominant 400m IM swimmer in history having held the World Record for 8 years (minus 1 month). Phelps is hot on his heels, but Tom is still The Man!

As if those handicaps weren't bad enough though, heading into the Sydney Olympics in 2000 Tom was also recovering from knee surgery which limited his kick in racing to a rather perculiar single beat fly kick and an even more bizarre almost scissor style Backstroke kick. Nevertheless, he defended his Olympic title and reduced his World Record along the way.

As you're about to see, his underlying training ethos was that if he trained harder than anyone else in the world, no one would be able to touch him. And so it proved!

This is a 2 part interview courtesy of Swimming World. You can also watch Part 1 where Tom tells you about a typical training set from back in the day.