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News June 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

Coaches Workshop and Nutrition Seminar

27 Jun: It was a hot and gloriously sunny day, which made us wonder how many would turn up for today's Coaches Workshop. A BBQ under a June sun, or an afternoon on a hot sweaty poolside. Which would you choose? There was also the added distraction of another sporting event happening somewhere to the South. We did ask them if they wouldn't mind re-arranging their schedule by a few hours, but they claimed their event was bigger and wouldn't budge - oh well.

Russ Barber talks to the swimmers while Braxton Timm looks on City of Sheffield's Head Coach, Russ Barber popped along to Adwick for the afternoon to demonstrate what he considers to be the key coaching points for Butterfly. Useful insight for any standard of swimming coach (or teacher) and we had the full range represented poolside. From those just starting out on ASA qualifications such as Adwick's Louise Hood; right the way up to former Dartes Head Coach Mick Gartside (now back at Spa) with decades of experience under his belt; and every level of expertise in between. As Louise said afterwards "I really enjoyed it, it was very, very interesting".

We had the Head Coaches from Adwick, Armthorpe, Spa, and South Axholme whose Head Coach Kevin Dunne emailed later that evening to say that he "Really enjoyed the Butterfly workshop today and will certainly be putting all the drills and techniques into practice for our swimmers". There were also representatives from Thorne and Edlington too. We had hoped those Head Coaches would bring along their helping hands, and many did. It was fantastic to see around 20 coaches taking advantage of this unique opportunity. As Russ intimated time and again, ASA qualifications are really the first rung on the ladder for coaches keen to develop their skills. They give you the licence to be on the poolside (like a driving licence lets you loose on the road), but there's so much more to learn after that. Workshops such as this should be a key component of any coach's ongoing development.

It wasn't just an afternooon for coaches though. As athletes rise to the top in any sport, they need their own education - and so do their parents. Coaches are often asked nutrition questions, so Russ invited over his former swimmer Andrew Shepherd (of Absolute Sports Nutrition) to give a presentation on that very subject. Parents got their own seminar while the kids swam, and the chance to quiz a real expert on all those burning food issues they've been storing up. You can download the notes from Andrew's website for a limited time only. Swimmers: print them off and keep them in your logbooks.

Although the focus of the afternoon was education, we needed some swimmers for the practical demonstrations. We finished with an hour or so in the pool with over 30 members of Phase 3-5 the guinea pigs as Russ demonstrated his favourite drills and highlighted the major points. Rockets: Fly kick your hips out of the water - deep end! Don't forget to smile. He also brought along Braxton Timm, National Youth Champion at 100m Butterfly, to demonstrate the finished article.

There's a myth in many sports, that to be the best you've got to be huge. If you're not big enough, you just won't cut it. Well take a look at Brax (top photo in the red, white and blue GB kit), he's not exactly big in any direction! Attention to detail and hard work is what makes you the best - and any young swimmer can do that.

How many of you present today noticed this: During the turn demonstrations at the end, how far did Brax dolphin kick before surfacing? The focus of his demonstrations was merely the turn on the wall, Russ was talking again almost as soon as his feet left the wall so there was no expectation for him to work his underwaters. Yet even then, seemingly from habit, Brax effortlessly kicked a good 10m at a brisk pace before surfacing and waiting to start the next demo.
Attention to detail - always!

We look forward to seeing you all using what you learned here today. Swimmers: write down any key points and keep them in your log books. Carragh and Jarvis - hand positions! Don't forget the Nutrition points too. Take responsibility for your own success, don't leave it in the hands of others.

Finally, a big thank you to Russ, Andrew and Braxton for running this workshop in Doncaster; hopefully we can arrange more in the future. Another thank you to the staff at Adwick Leisure Centre for letting the pool session overrun sligtly.

NERs Finish with a Heidi-High

A Fancy New Shirt and a Date at Ponds Forge in July for Heidi 13 Jun: After a some what disappointing day 3 (a couple of DQs and a bizarre 11 year boys 100m Freestyle final), the NER Championships finished on a definite high note - a Heidi High note.

In the heats of the girls 200m Backstroke Heidi Smith (Spa) touched the wall accompanied by ooohs and aaaahs and a few pained expressions on the faces of the Loud and Proud. On the way back down the poolside she couldn't quite hold back the tears. After having a crack at National Qualifying last season but coming up short, and again throughout 2010, Sunday morning's last opportunity before the deadline saw her hit the pads in 2:30.52, leaving her just 0.04secs outside the 13 years NQT!


It wasn't quite the last opportunity though. It did earn her lane 3 for the afternoon final and left her in no doubt that she was capable of achieving it. An emotional Heidi went for lunch with her team mates buzzing around her.

There were more finals to come before Heidi's though, and plenty more drama to unfold.

Before the lunch break, three events had already been taken care of. First thing, Rachael Grainger (Spa) went in search of NQT number 2 in the 1500m Freestyle, but missed out by about 12sec over the 30 lap race. In the Boys 400m Freestyle Mark Beech (Spa) missed the medals by 1sec and 1 place, but did do enough to earn 2nd place in the 10 year olds BAGCATs competition. Our other 10 year old boy Oswald Hood (Adw) also missed the medals by 1 place and a single second in the 200m Breaststroke. We sent him up to collect Mark's BAGCAT award as consolation (Mark had already left).

There was a definite build up to Heidi's 2nd attempt at 200m Backstroke. The finals started off with the Boys 400m Freestyle. Jarvis Parkinson (Tho) had an outside shot at qualifying for Nationals, starting the day 11secs off the qualifying standard. He had an optimistic crack, and lowered his PB to 5:07, but that was still 7sec short. As is so often the case, you need to be winning medals at NERs to qualify, his 8th place was a little off that pace. Nothing a few early mornings won't conquer!

Then the 13 years saw Luke Shpylka (SAS) and Jamie Clarke (Arm) in action at opposite sides of the pool. In lane 1, Luke was having a crack at another medal (to add to Silver in Saturday's 800m). Over in lane 9, Jamie had his eyes firmly fixed on the 100m Butterfly coming up a little later in the session.

Luke finished just 2secs off the medals in 5th, and 1sec away from the 13 years NQT. Not bad for a boy who won his first County medal in the spring, and his first Regional medal the day before. Will next year belong to Phelpsy?

And then the medal charge began!

The girls 100m Freestyle opened for us with the 12 year olds. Yes, T-Rex is still 12, much to the despair of her peers. Coach Wallace sent her down with one thought: "This is your race to win Shannon - Stamp your authority on it!"

Having qualified 2nd fastest behind City of Leeds' Rebekah Birrell, Shannon Dodson (Adw) took her coach's statement to heart. She dived in and surfaced ahead. By the 25m mark she was pulling away decisively. Approaching the turn she threw her legs into the wall and pushed off half a body length up.

"They're not coming back from that!" announced a proud coach as she passed under the flags. Up on the balcony her mum watched the scoreboard for the time transfixed; it wasn't just about Gold for the defending Champion!
13yrs NQT: 1:02.15
Shannon: 1:02.56
Gold, but no bonus swim in July!

The next final and another shot at Nationals. If Shannon was the oldest 12 year old, Caitlin Dixon (Arm) would be one of the youngest 13s. Qualifying 3rd fastest (but 1 of 4 on 1:02 - remember that NQT) we were again hunting for medals and times. 1:02.15 was again the target!

The Gold medal was expected to go to the rapidly rising star of Grace Dennis, the Silver would be a shock if it went anywhere other than Freya Resendez of Leeds. The Bronze though, well that was anybody's - who wanted it the most? Or perhaps the deciding factor, who most wanted the NQT which sat right in front of their noses.

If Shannon's time had been close, just 0.41sec away, Caitlin's was destined to be a hair's breadth away. 1:02.26, a mere 0.11sec away from adding a second swim to her National repertoire. Suddenly Heidi's Backstroke seemed to be setting the theme for the day.

Quite a Championships for Caitlin though (and only her 2nd). Her first NER final on day 1; followed by her first ever NQT on day 2; now on the final day, her first ever NER medal (Bronze).

Then up stepped the Master with an awe inspiring display of Butterfly. According to the results sheets Joe Litchfield (Spa) has been missing his 100m NQT all season. We just think he's been trying to make it more exciting for his dad.

None of that rubbish in today's final though - Joe was on a mission.

He dived in, he kicked, the race was won!
The Gold medal was never in doubt from the moment he surfaced.

You may detect a theme that runs throughout the NER Championships though. Medals sure are nice, but there's a greater reward to be had. Swimmers may win their first Gold, or Silver, or Bronze, but tears still flow if all those early mornings and tired evenings of training don't result in National Qualifying Times by the end of today.

This is last chance weekend. Hit NQTs now, or it's the other meet for you in July and another 12 months of hard work to put things right next year. You think that sounds harsh? It gets worse. This is NOT a taper meet! It falls smack bang in the middle of hard training building up to the final meet of the season. No rest, but for many a critical weekend.

That didn't bother Joe of course. He should have had this time months ago. Winning the 100m with clear water between him and Kirklees' Will Thackray he ducked a full second under the required time (1:09.51). A thump in the air and a congratulatory hand shake from a rival waiting behind the blocks for the 12 years final.

Jamie lowered his PB again in the 13 years Fly (finishing 5th) and then the girls 200m Backstroke was finally upon us. Time for Heidi to drop 0.04sec, or die trying! First up though was Chloe Hardy (Adw) in the 11 years. She matched her heat swim to finish 6th.

Next was Shannon, fresh from her 100m Freestyle victory about 30 minutes beforehand. She may be tired, but Aunty Jo and family had turned up just minutes after her first final had finished, she owed them another! A relatively weak heat performance had left her out in lane 8. Some people's favourite, Lucy Walton from Sunderland, had lane 4, and the ever present Leeds girl was in 6. Not quite a spearhead, more a 3 pronged fork.

It was tight, with Lucy leading most of the race and Rebekah Birrell close enough to make the last 100m a nervous time. The final turn saw Shannon a good half second behind the Sunderland girl. Somehow, somewhere in the final 25m, Shannon passed her to win by less than 0.2sec. No NQT for Shannon, but 2 NER Golds to make up for it.

"That's bob on" said Aunty Jo.

And then, with the warm up acts complete, it was time for the main attraction. Just 0.04sec stood between Heidi and the big meet of the year. The big meet of her swimming career to date. And what a setting she had for the occasion.

Qualifying 3rd fastest put her in lane 3, next door to the favourite with her own stories to tell this year. Former team mate Molly Grayson was now back at her best and focused on swimming again; her dad well enough to pop over to Sheffield for the day to watch from the balcony (not quite what a local paper had reported back in May).

Further along in lane 5, that other star of these Championships, Grace Dennis from Hull (and Bridlington) was set to give Molly a scare.

All the way down the first 50m, Heidi looked to be edging ahead. Good - that's the determination we were hoping for. The middle lanes turned within 0.20sec of each other, with another Hull swimmer, Eleanor Thompson leading them out. Shannon, Caitlin and Team Manager Pete stood behind the blocks to shout Heidi on out of the turn. The Loud and Proud were getting rather high pitched in the stands.

Down the 2nd 50m Eleanor dropped away as Molly and Grace began their own private battle with Heidi desperately hanging on.
1:11 for the leading pair.
1:12 for the Dartes girl.
A mix of 1:13s and 1:14s for the rest. Clear water was opening up all around her: Come on Heidi!

Required pace for the Qualifying time of 2:30.48 is around 1:13. She'd dipped under that by 0.06! It was already a day for tight margins. She was, however, 1.29sec up on her heat's performance. Could she hang on to the pace.

With her mum screaming her into the 150m turn (yes Helen, we heard you) and Caitlin screaming at her from behind the blocks all the way down the final 50m, it would have been a very brave Heidi to deprive them of their celebratory tears. The winning pair touched 0.2sec apart - we didn't see who won! We didn't see them touch!

We didn't care.

The biggest cheer came for 3rd place.
A slight delay.
She touched - silence.

The scoreboard changed.
An almighty roar!
2:29.39, not 0.04sec, a whopping 1sec under the qualifying time!

Barry Saunders summed it up nicely during the medal presentation. Congratulations to Molly - we finally realised someone had won the Gold medal. Another enormous roar for the Bronze medal presentation though - awesome swim Heidi. Or as Barry said in his understated way as Pete took the photo: "I suspect that photo might find it's way on to the Dartes website". We'll keep you all waiting ;-)

Well you all know how important it is to have a good long swim down after a race, so here's yours. To help lower your heart rate again Joe and Reece Fielding (Arm) contested the 200m Breaststroke in the next final. The overwhelming favourite was Newburn's Joseph Burrin and he went on to win by over 6secs. Joe was best of the rest though, claiming the Silver, with Reece knocking another 2sec off his heat time to touch 8th in 3:12.77.

Making sure we all stayed right to the very end was Chloe in her 2nd final of the day finishing 7th in the 200m IM. Rachael contested the 13 years final finishing 8th with a new PB.
Watch on Dartes TV ...

Doncaster Coaches Workshop

27 Jun: Due to our ever tighter links with City of Sheffield Swim Squad, Dartes' Head Coach Andrew Wallace and their Head Coach Russ Barber have cooked up what promises to be the first in a possible series of coaches workshops. The aim is to provide our feeder club coaches with expert and up to the minute knowledge of the strokes as told by one of the UK's top coaches.

During his time at City of Sheffield, Russ has coached a number of Senior GB swimmers, including James Kirton who competed at the Beijing Olympics and European Junior Open Water Champion Ellie Faulkner. His overriding coaching philosophy is to develop technique first as the foundation to everything else. This workshop is a unique opportunity for coaches to learn the skills required for developing top class, state of the art technique in their swimmers, and it's right on your doorstep.

At £15 per coach, it's also exceptionally good value.

We urge all of Doncaster's coaches, no matter what level of expertise, to come along and take part in this unique opportunity. Already we have 6 places booked (prior to this advert being published) so it looks set to be a popular event. Whether you're a Head Coach or you just stepped foot on the poolside for the first time last week doesn't matter. If you're interested in coaching your swimmers more effectively, you need to attend this workshop.

Location: Sunday 27th June @ Adwick Leisure Centre

Time Activity
1:30-2:30pmStroke technique theory for coaches
In Family Room with Russ Barber
2:30-3:30pmNutrition workshop for swimmers and coaches
In Family Room with Andrew Shepherd
Phase 4/5
3:30-4:30pmPool demonstrations
Poolside with Russ Barber
Phase 3-5
3:30-4:30pmNutrition workshop for parents
In Family Room with Andrew Shepherd
Phase 3-5

Coach Barber will be bringing along one of his Senior athletes to demonstrate the drills, but members of Dartes Phases 3-5 will also be invited to take part in the hour long in-pool demonstrations. However, the nutrition workshop is probably not suitable for Phase 3 swimmers, so instead their parents are encouraged to attend a parent specific Nutrition Workshop with Andrew Shepherd while the pool demonstrations take place.

As our coaches are often asked about nutrition, this is definitely a chance not to be missed.

Coaches places are limited so be sure to get in touch with Coach Wallace to book your place.