News January 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
Home Nations Regional Talent Programme
31 Jan: While Coach Wallace took the team to Harrogate for their January Open Meet, Coach Dave popped over to Leeds for the Home Nations Regional Talent Programme Training Day with S14 swimmer [Name Removed] (Drn).
As well as the formal seminars and pool work, these events are an invaluable opportunity for coaches to learn from each other and discuss new ways of getting the best out of their athletes. We saw last week how our Head Coach benefitted from similar training days. In addition to the talent programme staff of Jo Barber (North East Regional Disability Development Coach), Carl Cooper (Playground to Podium Officer), and Chris Armstrong (Yorkshire Disability Development Coach) who spend most of their time visiting the region's clubs (or the country's in Carl's case), Dave was joined on deck by Coach Graham Martin from Kingston upon Hull.
The day began with parent/swimmer education seminars on nutrition, during which it was established that swimmers are responsible for keeping their coaches well fed with Jaffa Cakes during meets! For the swimmers the importance of hydration was stressed. Drink plenty of water and carbohydrate drinks, not just during training or competition, but throughout the day at school too. Healthy snacks (fruit, energy bars, etc) should also be consumed regularly all day long.
Did you know: if you eat a carbohydrate snack or drink within 15mins of hard exercise (training or race) your body is able to recover significantly faster. After that 15min period the effects are greatly diminished. Take something with you to the blocks at meets to eat/drink on the way back down the poolside or on the way to the swim down pool. Have an energy bar in your bag to eat in the car on the way home from training.
Questions during the seminar were answered by both the Talent programme coaches and the two home programme coaches who came along too - just to keep them on their toes.
The work in the pool was intended as a chance to look at gathering data about the swimmers. Those of you who've spoken to Andy about his experiences coaching on the Beacon Progamme and the various able-bodied talent camps he's been involved with, will know there's always an emphasis on recording data. On those camps it gets a bit intense, with a single coach recording everything about a bunch of athletes. Today the same sort of data was recorded, but split between the available 5 coaches.
The morning's pool work was run by Carl Cooper and was all about developing race pace. Specifically, breaking down 200m Freestyle into four 50m segments known imaginatively as 'Front End Pace' (with a dive) and 'Back End Pace' (without). Those in Phase 4 on Saturday morning will recognise some of this as you did a similar set yesterday. You'll also see why it's so important for you to learn your 200m times!
Essentially you want to even split your swim over 200m (4 x 50m segments with similar split times). For [Name Removed] today then, target splits of FEP 37sec and BEP 39secs should give a 200m time of around 2:34. A big PB as a goal/target for her to achieve by the end of the season. Follow along at home, set your own target pace for a 200m Freestyle (give yourself upto 3secs for the dive). We'll see how you do next Saturday.
The set consisted of a bunch of 50m sprints. The objective was not to go max effort - we're working towards a 200m don't forget. Instead [Name Removed] and friends were expected to hit their Front End Pace on the first (from a dive), and their Back End Pace on the rest (from a push). The more accurate they are the better, because that teaches them the pace they need to swim during a 200m Freestyle race.
How accurate was she I hear you ask?
Within 1sec which isn't bad for a first attempt. Over the next few Saturday mornings though, all of Phase 4 will be expected to get within 0.20sec of their personal targets on every rep. Legend has it that British Swimming's former Performance Director, Bill Sweetenham, used to insist on his senior swimmers hitting such targets to the 100th, that's quite tough.
In the afternoon Jo took over with a 5x200m Freestyle step test. Each 200m rep to be swum with slightly more effort than the one before it with the swimmers learning how to judge for themselves the effort being used, rather than just relying on the clock. This is about improving their awareness of how they're swimming, giving them more ownership over their training. During each 200m swim, 50m splits were recorded along with stroke counts and heart rate.
Recording data is tricky work though. Ideally we'd be recording stroke counts/rates and swim times all the way through every day training. To do that would require an army of volunteers with paper and pen in hand sitting on deck working with the coaches. To improve the standard of training going on at Dartes, it would be good if we could make that happen to some extent. Any volunteers?
A few weeks ago we had Les Brown help out doing exactly that, thank you Les. If anyone else fancies having a crack occasionally please do. Even if just for 20mins here and there, it's definitely useful and allows us to give much more feedback to the swimmers and helps coaches plan sessions more effectively.
We also got chance to do some underwater filming with the Shark Eye equipment that Coach Wallace used on a previous talent camp, and dry filming with a standard camcorder too.
Another Busy Weekend for Coach Wallace
24 Jan: It was another busy weekend for Coach Wallace. On Saturday, more ACO responsibilities kept him away from Phase 5 training. Then on Sunday he attended the CPD Spectacular in Wetherby.
Thanks to his spot on the ACO programme Andy has been appointed one of GB's top coaches as his mentor. And who better to fill this role than current City of Leeds Head Coach Dave Calleja. Dave coached Olympic finalist James Hickman, Olympic Bronze medalist Steve Parry, and was coach at the GB Offshore training centre on the Gold Coast in Australia.
Saturday morning's Beacon Programme was Andy's first trip to work along side his mentor. It was another opportunity to coach the top National Level swimmers in the region and to gain hands on experience in what it takes to run a high level programme. Skills he is already incorporating into the Dartes programme. Between them they've already identified a number of areas where Andy's coaching can be improved and they're working towards doing just that.
Not only will his attendance improve his own coaching techniques (by his own admission he was well outside his comfort zone this weekend) but he's already begun filtering through advice and guidance to his assistants back home at Dartes. His place on the ACO programme is already paying big dividends.
Then on Sunday he was joined by one of the Phase 4 Assistant Coaches, Sarah Green (Tho), for the CPD Spectacular. Doncaster's clubs were also well represented with people from Armthorpe, Minsthorpe, and Rossington in attendance. While our Head Coach was enjoying "Good Practice" and "Child Protection" CPD courses, Coach Sarah was gaining an "Introduction to Butterfly" and "Introduction to Breaststroke".
On the coach development front, we're also looking at sending a small group to Loughborough in April for their Coaches Workshop. Anyone (Dartes or Feeder Club Coaches) interested in tagging along should speak to Coach Wallace ASAP as places are likely to fill up fast.
Another Under 11mins
23 Jan: Having had a 1500m timed swim thrown at them earlier in the month, Phase 4 must have thought they'd got away without their monthly 2x800m test set. No such luck.
First time round two girls were locked together approaching the 11min mark. The only swimmer under 11mins so far was Kim Smith (Arm) in 10:55 last month, today she just pipped Jessica Gillatt (Ros). Unfortunately, they were both just outside Kim's time from last month.
A sneaky move by Jess to push Kim in front for round two made all the difference. Letting Kim set the pace for 750m, Jess sprinted past her tired rival to be the 2nd girl under 11mins. Two consistent swims by each girl, next month's promises to have them both under 11mins twice!
How Many Events?
21 Jan: With Yorkshires coming up we've been asked a few questions regarding how many events should be swum and should Event A be sacrificed in favour of Event B. The general advice we're giving is to enter every event qualified for. The programme isn't that compact anyway, so give them all a shot (especially the big ones).
On that theme we've found an interview with everyone's favourite swimming interviewee. The ever so bubbly Elizabeth Beisel talks us through a 3 day weekend of racing. While watching the video keep track of all the events she competed in during the event.
To watch any/all of her events, check out Swimming World TV and their excellent coverage. A meet schedule fit for an Olympian - which of course, she is! The eagle eyed among you will also have noticed that in just one weekend, Elizabeth contested 3 of the events that would qualify you for the Animal Squad.
200m Butterfly Spectacular
17 Jan: This morning the Rotherham A/B Meet started with the Boys 200m Butterfly. It's a tough event. Unless you're a swimmer, or have been a swimmer, it's hard to understand just how tough this event is. I seem to recall Olympic Bronze medalist Steve Parry likening the 2nd half to having a horse jump on your back!
For many, even finishing the 100m version is a struggle. Merely suggesting to a 9 or 10 year old that they should do a 200m Fly often earns a questioning stare and stubborn shake of the head as response.
This season though, we've hopefully turned a corner. The start sheet said 6 Dartes boys aged 13 or under were to take part, and all of them stepped up smiling confidently. Well, maybe not smiling exactly, but looking confident none the less.
For most, they were about to discover that a Long Course 200m Fly is a bit different to the Short Course version that they'd done in time trials at Adwick. Fewer turns mean fewer opportunities to rest tired arms. A tough event just became even tougher!
In the 11 year olds Jarvis Parkinson (Tho) pulled off a blistering performance, looking exceptionally strong thoughout he never seemed to tire. A few heats earlier, Paul Hardy (Adw) was desperately trying to stick to the 2 stroke breathing pattern asked of him, and mostly managed. Another impressive effort.
The older boys too pulled out some good times. Jamie Clarke (Arm) recorded a whopping 20 sec best time while sporting his new, polished Butterfly technique that looks every bit as good as the big time drop suggests. Jack Green (Tho) also tried sticking to a 2 stroke breathing pattern, and just like Paul, he pretty much managed it. His discipline earned him a big PB too.
From the boys: 2 from Adwick, 2 from Armthorpe, and 2 from Thorne. Nicely balanced. But that still leaves a few clubs unrepresented. Maybe next time -- anyone up for the challenge?
In the afternoon it was the girls turn to start things off, and another 200m Butterfly event. Of the 43 entries, 10 were Dartes girls! That even outnumbered Borough of Kirklees who were close behind with 8 (anything can be turned into a competition if we win!)
Even better than that though, we boasted three of the five 9 year olds!
Did we mention that this is a tough event? There were a few tears by the end, but every single one of our girls looked strong down the last 50m and most even managed a bit of a sprint finish. Finleigh Dukes (Tho) kept the number of Tigers in the Animal Squad increasing with a fine performance from heat 1. Keeping her company was Amber Hardy (Adw), just turned 9 and her first (Long Course) meet -- quite a welcome! Phoebe Winter (Adw), was our other 9 year old receiving lots of loud support from mum and dad on the balcony.
Coach Neil must be sprinkling something in the pool at Adwick, his daughter Georgia Stephenson (Adw) began the 11 year olds response to the 9s. Amber's sister Chloe Hardy (Adw) went out fast in her heat and just about managed to keep the pace going all the way through to win it. Kathryn Shepheard (Adw) also had a very solid Butterfly swim showing great promise for the future. It's a painful event, but it would be great to see them all in it again next time.
Then came the veterans. Eleanor Chafer (SAS) recorded another Long Course best time and walked back for her swim down full of smiles. Leah Rushton (Spa) battled her way through another one to ensure Spa got a mention. Kelly Smith (Arm) swam superbly to match her Short Course time trial time from last weekend and a beaming smile showed exactly what she thought about that. Or maybe the smile was due to the gap between her and club mate Caitlin Dixon (Arm). Had it not been for that last piece of Chicken Tikka Caitlin, Kelly would have had you! As it was, another fine performance by Caitlin in one of the tougher events keeps her knocking on the door for a spot in Phase 5.
It's been a good weekend at Rotherham A/B with lots of fast swimming throughout the team. For once though we'll stick to mentioning just a single event and our latest additions to the Animal Squad. If anyone wants to argue about that, they can have 16 tough kids growling at them ;-)
Well done guys, an awesome job.
[As an interesting update it occurs to me that that's about 10% of the club competing in the 200m Butterfly today. That's pretty good going.]
Beacon Programme for Max
16 Jan: This morning Max Litchfield (Spa) travelled down the M62 to the John Charles centre in Leeds to take part in the Beacon programme. It's designed to bring together the top talent from the Yorkshire area to train together in a long course environment on a regular basis. Dave Calleja, as City of Leeds Head Coach, is coach for the programme today.
Max was selected in to this prestigious group of athletes thank to his triple Bronze medal winning performances at Nationals last season.
What Kind of Parent Are You?
14 Jan: How many different types of parent can you think of? Most of you can think of a few different categories and put a list of names in each one I'm sure. Some are Pushy, others Know it all, and then there are those Baby Sitter types who just drop the kids off and run. Every club has a nice variety to keep things interesting for the coaches.
Well it just so happens that one of the more prolific thinkers in sport has put way too much time in to analysing all the different types he's seen. Wayne Goldsmith has gone so far as to write a series of articles describing the traits of each; the positives along with the negatives.
If you have a spare few minutes it's well worth having a read. Be honest with yourselves though, which category do you fit into (yes, it is possible to be more than one).
It's important to realise how critical the role of parent is in the athlete development process. You're not just a taxi driver and money supply. Your attitudes and opinions are reflected very strongly in how your youngstars respond to the training environment. It's often easy to figure out which category parents will fit into, even before you meet them, simply by watching the kids during training.
So as a parent, which category would you like to fit into? I'd wait a while before deciding. Part 3 has all the good ones!
On a similar theme of how closely kids copy their parents, here's another of Mrs Coach's blogs that you might enjoy:
- Pool Polling
Welcome to Minsthorpe's Ann Matthews
12 Jan: Last night we welcomed the Head Coach of our newest feeder club to the pool side at Dartes. You'll remember back in June of last year when the DMASA voted to accept Minsthorpe Marlins into Doncaster Swimming. This was quickly followed up with a club visit by our Head Coach, Andrew Wallace.
Last night Minsthorpe's Coach Matthews popped along to shadow Coach Wallace for the evening and to see what tips and tricks she can take back to improve the Marlins. Having spent some time shadowing with the City of Leeds programme, Ann is now keen to build up links within the Doncaster performance pathway. Already Minsthorpe have a number of young swimmers working their way through JDS with Dartes assistant Coach Kevin Nicholas.
We look forward to seeing more of Coach Matthews in the months to come.
Derby Level 1 Meet
10 Jan: So we're back round to Long Course season again and the NQT hunt begins in earnest. Our first meet for 2010 was the Level 1 City of Derby Open Meet. Coincidentally, as we've now said goodbye to the shiny suits era of 2009, everyone's back in proper swim suits again.
What difference did it make? Very little in reality. Richard Lee (Spa) still recorded PBs in the 50m Buterfly and 50m Freestyle. He made finals for 200m IM, 100m Freestyle, 100m Breaststroke, and the 100m Butterfly and was just 0.10 outside of the NQT for 50m Freestyle.
Nic Grainger (Spa) wasn't about to let Richard upstage him though, and went almost as close to an NQT on the 200m Breaststroke, just 0.70 outside.
Sticking with the boys, Elliot Trofimowicz (Spa) earned a PB for the 100m Freestyle, stopping the clock at 58sec. Coach Wallace later praised his "consistently high stroke rate" which clearly contributed to the time. A good start to the new year from Elliot then.
Max Litchfield (Spa) also swam well throughout the weekend. His excellent underwaters showed through on the 200m events, 12m off most turns and a 13m final turn for the Backstroke.
Between them Max and Richard won 1st and 2nd place in the 14 year boys BAGCATS contest. Well done boys.
This is a very short run down of a few highlights. If anyone else would like to contribute a full meet report for the weekend, it would be greatly appreciated.
England Talent Camp Duty
2/3 Jan: It was England Talent Camp duty again for Coach Wallace at the weekend. You'll remember last time, back in November at Sunderland. Well this was the followup. Slightly different support staff this time as Physio Penny was replaced by former GB International Darren Wigg. We've met Darren previously at the 2008 Yorkshire Coaches Conference. Interesting to note that Darren holds NER Records for 200m IM and 400m IM.
Other than that the set up was pretty similar to before. James Stannard (Head Coach to Borough of Stockton) once again led the Level 2 group, while Middlesborough's Head Coach Steve Cox led Level 1. Andy spent Saturday with Level 2 (aged 14+) and Sunday with Level 1 (the younger element).
Part of his Saturday was spent doing underwater filming alongside Derwentside's Head Coach Ciaran O'Brian. Analysing race speed starts, turns, and finishes and gathering data to provide to coaches of the swimmers' home programmes.
On the conditioning side, Darren introduced a few different land exercises in addition to giving feedback from the screening Penny performed last time round. He put the swimmers through a core strength challenge: hold the plank position for as long as possible. One of the Level 1 girls managed just over 6mins while two of the boys went beyond 15mins! All swimmers had to hold perfect planks throughout the challenge (certainly no hips in the air rubbish!)
The main emphasis for the level 2 swimmers was raising their level of expectation and pushing the bar higher. This resulted in many of the swimmers performing 400m IM's with fast turns and achieving 10-15m underwater! Excellent in itself, but the hard part will come in motivating themselves to continue that high quality of turn once they return to their home programmes. The next camp is likely to show up who has, and who hasn't.
At this level you'd expect Level 1 swimmers to be regularly using the pace clock in training. Their abilities were put to the test over the weekend when instructed to shout out their personal rep times during a heart rate set. During the first camp in Sunderland, this had been identified as a disappointing weakness among many. This simple set was designed to highlight the leaders in the group from the sheep!
It truly is startling to discover how few swimmers pay attention to pace clocks during every day training. Instead they seem content to rely on others to take that responsibility. Every single athlete should be using the clocks on every swim. How else can you record your times for your log books?
Happy New Year, and a Happy 1500m Freestyle
2 Jan: With the deadline for Yorkshire entries just a few weeks away we thought we'd have a crack at a group 1500m Freestyle this morning, just to see who's in the ball park. For a first attempt at a timed 1500m swim for Phase 4 the results are pretty good. As Head Coach Wallace was away at a regional training camp, Phase 5 got to welcome the new year in style too. As with any distance event, you need to swim a few to get the hang of it and learn how fast to attack the start.
Out in front and comfortably under his Yorkshire time was Richard Lee (Spa) with CASA's Tom Payne hot on his heels.
In the 12 year old girls Shannon Dodson (Spa) and Heidi Smith (Ros) were easily inside their QT with Jessica Gillatt (Ros) a little outside. But it was only a training swim with lots of over taking to be done, it was far from perfect conditions. Jess should be there or there abouts in race conditions.
Between Shannon and Heidi, Jamie Clark (Arm) was also comfortably inside his 13 years boys QT too. Here's hoping we have strong representation in the 1500m this year.
Stepping even younger, bringing up the rear, was Ben Long (Arm). Still two years away from being old enough to compete in the 1500m at Yorkshires it's important for the young guys to learn how to swim the distance early. Well done Ben for having a crack at it.
Another Year, Another Article in the Papers
1 Jan: A month ago Andrew Czyzewski, a Masters swimmer and journalism student from Sheffield University, popped over to St James to interview [Name Removed] (Drn). The occasion was due to [Name Removed]'s Gold medal winning swims at the DSE National Short Course Championships and the implications of the IPC's decision to over turn the ban on Intellectual Disability athletes.
The resulting article can now be read on Doncaster's Villager website.