News October 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
New Test Set: 4x400 Choice Kick
30 Oct: We've been looking at adding a kick test set to the Saturday morning programme for Phase 4 for a while. For this week, we finally decided on the 4x400m choice kick set and laid down the challenge to the swimmers.
Test sets need to be measurable and they need to demonstrate improvement over time. We'll be recording times from each round in a similar way to what we do with the 2x800m and 2000m Freestyle sets, but for kicking, we'll rank the table by cummulative time rather than fastest rep. That way the swimmers must attack each rep hard or drop down the table!
So who was out to impress on their first encounter? The 4 Mallorca girls would have led the table had it not been for a very strong performance by Kathryn Shepheard (Adw) earning her a promotion to the top lane. Setting the pace at the front though was Chloe Hardy (Adw) with Natasha Crow (SAS) hot on her heels.
The choice of kick used makes a huge difference in times. Breaststroke kick is usually by far the slowest on sets like these. A strong Butterfly kicker will usually win (all things being equal), with Backstroke generally edging out the Freestylers due to a faster turn. All things to consider for next time.
|Name||Date||Rnd 1||Rnd 2||Rnd 3||Rnd 4||Total|
|Chloe H||30 Oct||6:47||6:50||6:58||7:00||1655sec|
Just like with the other test sets we do, big time drops are likely next time as everyone now knows what to expect. Set yourselves targets for next time. Averages of 6:30 should be achievable for 3 or 4 by the end of the season.
School Swimming Season: Hall Cross
21 Oct: Hall Cross School has selected its teams for the forthcoming ESSA Division 3 Secondary Schools Team event to be held at Huddersfield on 12th November. As you'd expect, it's packed full of current or former Dartes swimmers including last year's National Squad 200m Butterfly and 400m IM swimmer Emma Humphreys (Ros).
Making a return from retirement to represent her school is another of our National stars. During her career Laura Hirst (Edl) contested all 4 of the Animal Squad events at Nationals before retiring in 2009. 2008 saw her swim the 1500m Freestyle, the previous two years she'd blasted through the 400m IM. Just to complete the set, in 2006 Laura competed in 7 events which included the 200m Butterfly and 800m Freestyle.
Joining Laura and Emma in the older age groups for this schools meet will be Aaron Walker (Ros), Dale Marshbank (Arm), and Torin Wilson (Arm). They have a lot to live up to. Many of you will have noticed the Hall Cross School swim team photos on the wall beside the changing rooms. They stretch back to the 1980s and represent a pretty illustrious period for the sport at the school.
The Junior team consists mainly of JDS swimmers with Phase 4's Kathryn Shepheard (Adw) thrown in for good measure. The JDS contingent are: Ben Carville (Ros), Katie Pendlebury (Ros), Caitlin Feirn (Ros) and Lauren Walker (Ros).
Good luck to you all, we're sure you'll do your school proud. We'll bring you the results from the 12th as soon as we get them.
Inter Counties for Max and Richard
17 Oct: At the last Mets they were on an England Talent Camp weekend in Manchester. This time Max Litchfield (Spa) and Richard Lee (Spa) were representing Yorkshire and attempting to prevent Lancashire from picking up their 9th National County Team Championship on the trot.
Despite leading at half way by 12 points, Yorkshire finished the afternoon as runner-up. It was by no means doom and gloom for our boys though, with Max getting a mention on the British Swimming website for his 100m Backstroke. In the 4x50m Medley team both were in record breaking form. Max lowered his Junior Yorkshire SC Backstroke record leading off in 26.83, whereas Brucey's Butterfly split of 25.68 was a good half second faster than the equivalent record held by Greg Viercant (Arm) since 1995! Being a relay split of course it won't count, but impressive nonetheless!
The top 3 placings:
Fast Swimming at Winter Yorkshires
17 Oct: Well if anyone was in any doubt that the 2010/2011 season had begun, last weekend should have put them to rest. A cracking Winter Yorkshire Competition combined with an electrifying round 1 of Arena League produced some extremely fast swimming. There is no official Top Club competition for Winter Yorkshires, but the coaching team is always looking at medal counts from major events as an indication of how the club is progressing. We thought we'd share the top 4 places with you:
|City of Leeds||14||4||11||29|
|City of Sheffield||13||18||15||46|
|Disclaimer: compiled from a manual count through results sheet - errors may exist|
There is of course more to consider than just the medal count. With Arena League taking place Saturday evening there were a lot of big names from Leeds and Sheffield who skipped a few events at Yorkshires. But then, the vast majority of our Arena team did likewise! To be right up there challenging the top two is very good news indeed and reflects the results we saw at the White Rose Junior Meet last month.
It gets even better when you dig deeper in to the medal distribution. Over recent years, the bulk of our medals have come from the likes of Max Litchfield (Spa), Richard Lee (Spa), and Nicholas Grainger (Spa). This year they've moved up to the open age group competing against 18, 19,and 20 year olds. The physical size difference between 15 year old boys and 20 year old men should be obvious to all. Our boys have a very tough couple of years ahead of them as they pile on more muscle mass to catch up. This year they managed some very creditable top 10 placings, but the odds were always stacked against them.
Nik produced a quad of big PBs and two top 8 finishes. Max produced two club records (a further 3 club age-group records) and lowered his Yorkshire Junior Short Course records in 100m Backstroke and 200m IM. He was just outside the medals in 100m Breaststroke (4th) and 200m IM (4th), finished 5th in 100m Backstroke, and even managed a 6th for 100m Freestyle. Well done to both boys in an extremely tough age group.
So if our usual standard bearers weren't winning medals, where did they all come from?
Well for that, you need look no further than Coach Kevin Nicholas and his young stars from JDS. This is probably the first time that his hard work at the young end of the club has come in to its own. Sure, there have been flashes of brilliance from the young guys previously, but nothing on this scale. After a steady couple of years spent developing Doncaster's young talent, the tap is now open and the results are flooding out.
The first event set the tone: 9 years 50m Freestyle. Fresh from her double record breaking weekend at the Mets 7 days prior, Amber Hardy (Adw) dominated to win Gold by over a second. Right behind her, sharing the Silver medal with City of Leeds' Eleanor Jones, was Laura Brookes (Edl). Our two girls were set to take the youngest age group by storm over the weekend.
After their opening medal salvo in the girls' event came Matthew Jubb (Adw) winning Silver in the boys equivalent. Although the JDS kids have won things here and there in the past, this is really the first meet in which they've started to look dominant. In the first generation of swimmers to graduate through JDS, Coach Kevin is now regularly putting Doncaster's young stars on top of the medal dias.
Both Amber and Oswald Hood (Adw) have been training in Phase 4 for a month or so, but they represent the first few to have come all the way through our development squads from a young age. They highlight the quality of work being done here and at our feeder clubs. Oswald picked up a Gold in the 10 years 100m Breaststroke to go with a few more top 10 placings over the weekend.
Amber came home with Gold in Freestyle, IM, and Backstroke; Laura won Butterfly to push Amber back to Silver, and picked up the corresponding Silvers to Amber's Golds. Of the top 6 placings for 50m Butterfly, Dartes took 4 of them! Chantelle Waugh (Arm) and Lucy Clarke (Ros) 4th and 6th respectively behind our 2 medallists.
Matthew added Bronze medals in the IM and Butterfly to go with his opening Freestyle Silver. Up an age group and Joseph Gatus (Spa) continued his family tradition by winning yet more young Gold in the Backstroke and Butterfly. The Backstroke also earned him an age-group club record.
But if those medals were all pretty special, one girl had the meet of her life. We've always known Shannon Dodson (Adw) had bags of potential, but at Yorkshire Winters she's never brought home the silverware. Plenty of top 10 finishes, but never top 3. Boy oh boy, was that about to change!
First up for her was the 100m Backstroke. The overwhelming favourite going in was Bridlington's Grace Dennis, ranked a full second faster (1:07.90) than 2nd seed Ellie Talbot from City of Bradford. Our 3 girls, ranked 3rd, 4th and 7th were more than 3 seconds further back. Shannon, Heidi Smith (Spa), and Caitlin Dixon (Arm) were all sitting on 1:11. Now Shannon has only qualified for Nationals once in this event. It was a last ditch effort in 2009 to sneak in by a few 100ths of a second.
By the time Shannon touched for the Gold medal, a body length ahead of Grace, open mouthed coaches and screaming parents were scrambling to find NQT sheets only to discover they hadn't yet been published. Caught off guard, we checked last year's but that only made things worse - her 1:06.20 had dipped under the 14 years NQT in her first meet of the year, so long as the NQTs weren't changed drastically.
In the end, after frantically surfing the Internet, we finally got our hands on a draft of the 2011 qualifying times. To our dismay we discovered most of the times had been slashed by about 0.5s per 100m. The fairy tale ending wasn't quite up to Hollywood standards! She still has all season to drop another measily 0.2s though! Needless to say, Shannon did earn herself a Club Record for her pains.
Poor Grace Dennis must have wondered what had happened this weekend. After the excitement of the night before, we returned on Sunday morning to be woken up by more fireworks in the 200m IM. Nicola Graham was ranked fastest for City of Leeds (2:29.60) with Caitlin and Grace not far behind her. Way back down the field was Shannon seeded 13th (2:37). Even further back, so much so that counting got boring, was Heidi (2:42). That didn't exactly reflect the result!
Dare we say it: 3 Dartes girls in the top 5!
Who won the Gold medal?
An 8sec PB dragged Shannon to the top of the medal dias, leaving the big names in her wake.
Caitlin finished 4th, and Bronze medallist from the Breaststroke Heidi finished 5th.
They were all back in action a little later for the 100m Freestyle. Both Shannon and Caitlin were talking up their chances of going sub-60, but in reality they're still a long way off. But who'd bet against Shannon today? The result was Silver for Shannon and another Bronze for Caitlin to go with her 100m Butterfly. T-Rex and Crazy Cat were just 0.05 apart. As consolation for lack of sub-minute status, Shannon's longer finger nails earned her the 13 years Club Record.
You'd all be amazed if there wasn't at least one Litchfield medal from the weekend. The family honour was kept in tact by Joe Litchfield (Spa) claiming the club age group record with a Butterfly Bronze. That goes side-by-side with his traditional Backstroke Gold. His regular partner in crime Jarvis Parkinson (Arm) grabbed the Gold for 100m Freestyle the event for which he won National Bronze in the summer.
Another club age group record went to Holly Lewis (SAS) for 200m IM. Another swimmer contesting the very tough open age group as one of the youngest swimmers. Her 10th place making her the top 14 year old.
The King is Dead, Long Live Chloe!
16 Oct: Well he might not be quite dead, but Aaron didn't look great on Thursday so he missed this morning's 2x800m test set. Which allowed Pingu to step up to the mark and challenge his Phase 4 record of 10:29. Proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that two back-to-back 800m Freestyles can be swum without slowing down, she backed up her blistering 10:40 first rep (itself a 20sec PB) with an even hotter 10:34! For those who doubt they'll ever get there, 1 year ago Chloe Hardy (Adw) was swimming just shy of 13mins!
The added competition proved to be just what Kim Smith (Adw) needed to push her to faster times too. Slightly faster than ever before on round 1 (10:49), she stormed after Chloe for number 2 to knock off another 10secs. Fast on rep 1, even faster on rep 2! That's how you swim this set.
Another girl to smash through the 11sec barrier was Natasha Crow (SAS). A near 30sec PB to dip comfortably under on 10:45 for round 1, just slipping outside for rep 2 with 11:02. Now you've done it once, you're not allowed to swim slower than 11min in future!
At the other end of the table, two first timers having a crack. Finleigh Dukes (SAS) and Tyler Dodson (Adw) learning what they have to do and how much pain there is to enjoy by the end! These swims have to be done FAST every time. That's how you go from a smidgen under 13mins, to under 11mins in 12 months! Another pair learning about handling pain finished mid-table. Holly Brookes (Edl) finally decided to have a crack at this set and came away with a very respectable 11:26; rather than the wimpy 13mins she normally delivers - well done Holly. We also pushed George Scatchard (Spa) to the front of lane 2 and he rose to the challenge with a 30sec PB.
|Chloe H||16 Oct||5:18||10:40||5:17||10:34|
Some good, fast, early season swimming this morning. As ever, click one of the names to view their previous history.
Terry Dennison MBE Came To Visit
12 Oct: For the past few years Phil Hughes has been working towards his Level 3 Senior Coach qualification. It's a lengthy process involving a year's worth of seminars plus 10 coursework modules before finally arriving at the practical assessment. The coursework involves recording day-to-day training results, planning the season's training cycles, Nutrition, Psychology, ...
You name it, it's included. Everything a Senior Coach might be expected to do. You get 3 years to complete the work and if you're a volunteer in a Senior Coaching role you'll very likely need most of it. It's currently the highest qualification available to swimming coaches in the UK; higher levels are planned, but the courses are not yet running.
Tonight was the first of 2 practical assessments for Phil. Course tutor Terry Dennison popped down to St James for the evening to see Phil take over Phase 4 for the night to prove his worth. It's something of a dry run for Phase 4 who will experience all of this again in the near future when Phase 4's regular Lead Coach Dave Cuthbert finishes his course work for the same qualification.
Chatting to Terry poolside during the session he seemed rather impressed with the quality of swimming in the pool.
For those who don't know, Terry Dennison MBE was Head Coach to City of Leeds through the 1980s and 1990s. He was coach to Great Britain's last Olympic Gold Medallist before Rebecca Adlington: Breaststroke Champion Adrian Moorhouse. As well as coaching 5 times World Short Course 200m Butterfly Champion James Hickman for a number of years. More recently he acted in the role of High Performance Director for Swim Ireland.
A very experienced coach then, and both our Head Coach Andy Wallace and Assistant Coach Dave wasted no opportunity to quiz him and pick his brain on a range of swimming related topics. A big thank you to Terry for popping over to assess Phil, his usual friendly outlook, and willingness to discuss all things swimming.
Max Lowers Yorkshire Record at Arena League
11 Oct: Well if anyone was in any doubt that the 2011 season is now underway, this weekend certainly ended them. A Saturday morning that started before 8am and didn't end until gone 9pm! Then back for more before 8am on Sunday.
One weekend and two very important meets saw some exceptionally fast swimming. The weekend was always scheduled for the Yorkshire Winter Competition in its traditional October setting. For 2010 however, we had another highlight to tag on to Saturday evening. The National Swimming League was returning to the North East after a 5 year absence, and we were determined to make it a rip-roaring success.
In this context of course, 'we' doesn't just refer to Dartes, but all of the teams taking part. This is the National Swimming League, and the importance of its return to the North East in a proper 3 round, many-team format can't be over-estimated.
Chatting to a few coaches from non-participating teams on Sunday, suggests more are considering adding themselves to the mix for next year. Let's hope they do, it's a brilliant contest and deserves their support. It can only add to the electric atmosphere and superb swimming that we all enjoyed on the night too. An atmosphere which surely helped Max Litchfield (Spa) on his way to smashing the Junior Yorkshire Short Course 200m IM record in event 2!
Speaking of atmosphere, City of Leeds were first to show their hand, with swimmers setting up shop on the balcony with football rattles almost as soon as Session 2 of Yorkshires was completed. Harrogate and District added a few party horns to the mix too. But, well, you know ...
When there's an atmosphere to be created,
When there's noise to be generated,
When there's cheering and passionate support to be called upon,
No one does a better job than the Loud and Proud.
Horns, cow bells, thunder sticks, banger tubes, you name it, the Loud and Proud had them all in abundance. Every single race was supported with the passion and enthusiasm you'd expect for such an occasion - and then substantially more! Not too surprising, our supporters had plenty to shout about. Right from the start it was clear that Dartes were going to be challenging. We weren't just there to be best of the rest, we were out to push Leeds and Sheffield for every point on offer.
At every check point during the meet, the announcer placed Dartes 3rd. And after an exhilarating couple of hours of top class swimming action that's where we finished.
|1||City of Leeds 'A'||349|
|2||City of Sheffield 'A'||295|
|4||Harrogate & District||247|
|5||City of Leeds 'B'||238|
|6||Gateshead & Wickham||157|
|7||City of Sheffield 'B'||125|
The National Arena Swimming League is the sort of event you attend just to support your team - irrespective of whether you or your children are swimming. This really is the most passionately supported swimming event in the country and unusually for meets that Dartes attends, it only lasts a couple of hours. So come along and join in the fun for rounds 2 and 3 at John Charles in Leeds.
To add to the atmosphere, we were equipped with war paint and rather fetching Darth Maul masks - quite clearly he was a Dartes Supporter himself as he painted his face in our colours! The swimmers seemed to enjoy decorating each other, and other teams took up the theme the following morning to round off Winter Yorkshires. A couple of our banners also dominated the balcony - as they always do.
For Round 2 we're going to be struggling though, we need all the support we can muster. Two of our bigger clubs hold their club championships on the same day, so if their swimmers choose local club championships over National League Competition we're going to be hard pressed to contain Harrogate and District who were hot on our heels in 4th. An unfortunate clash of dates due to the North East's late inclusion for this season. Next year we should be able to avoid it.
So an exhilarating return to National Swimming League competition, roll on round 2.
We hope to add a full report of the evening's entertainment shortly.
England Talent in Manchester
4 Oct: While some of the World's top stars of the pool were taking part in the opening ceremony of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, two of Doncaster's biggest names were enjoying a weekend at the pool of the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. The Manchester Aquatics Centre hosted the first round of the joint North East and North West regional England Talent camps for the 2011 season, and in attendance were Max Litchfield (Spa) and Richard Lee (Spa).
As an extra honour, Dartes Head Coach Andrew Wallace was also selected on to the coaching team for the 2nd year running. Head Coach for the camp was Gallica's Louise Robinson, alongside Andy assisting her were Ciaran O'Brien (Derwentside), Jonathan Preston (Swim Trafford), Lee Holland (Oldham Aquatics) and Paul Elwood (Ulverston). The following is Coach Wallace's review of the camp.
The Group was split in to four sections. I had the male Butterfly swimmers, Ciaran had the Breaststrokers, Lee had the IM swimmers, Jonathan had Female Butterfly and Freestyle swimmers, and Paul had the Backstrokers.
So unfortunately for Richard he got me and he loved it - No place to hide.
Max was in the IM group with Coach Lee Holland.
The long weekend started off on Friday with a very wet 15min walk from the Manchester Aquatics Centre to the hotel ready for a 12pm coaches meeting. Head Coach Louise Robinson asked that we be responsible for our own swimmers getting to places on time and reiterated that we were to provide the swimmers with a skills based camp and actively try to encourage them to focus more on raising their standards in and out of the pool.
The swimmers did 5 two hour sessions over the weekend; the aim for each coach was to find a particular skill to emphasise to their group. So I did the most obvious skill, but usually also the most neglected skill, which is as you all know: Turns (approach, rotations, streamling and underwater work).
The importance of turns is so often lost on young swimmers as they rush to get to the surface, but these fellas on a level 2 camp were expected to be much more focussed on excellence. We had National finalists and previous medal winners etc, but even so there were things that all could improve. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, because then we know they can be even better at next year's big meets, but it will take concentration on a daily basis to make the required improvements. These camps are just about increasing their awareness, the real improvements should come with even greater focus on skills after returning home.
Every session started with 10mins of blood flow exercise and stretching, and finished with 10mins of stretching. Here's a brief outline of the work done:
A big intense Long Course kick set
400 max average speed
2x200 faster than 1/2 the 400 with the second rep faster than the first
4x100 faster than 1/2 the fastest 200 with a descend from rep 1-4
Long Course with a challenge set of 40x50m speed @ faster than 1/2 100 PB
16 as 1 fast 3 easy off 1:00
12 as 1 fast 2 easy off 1:15
8 as 1 fast 1 easy off 1:30
4 as 4 fast off 2:00
Although he did a great job and kept working hard throughout the set the thing that showed up was that Richard, who is a fast Fly swimmer, struggled to hold pace towards the end of the set. This is probably due to him trying to avoid Fly on the main sets back home at Dartes. So to any of our budding fly swimmers take note: be honest with yourself, if you know you need to do Fly on main sets don't take the easy option because success has to be earned.
For this session we went Short Course with a strong skills bias, for which my Fly boys worked on streamlining and Fly kicking (aiming to make 10m underwater) then a bit on stroke length. These are both very important tools for successful Fly swimmers to develop.
Another skills and drills session with a set of 10x50 off 1:30 efficiency set. The swimmers aimed to hold even or lower stroke counts with a descend of 1 sec each rep. For the 10th 50m they were expected to hit PB +1sec. This is a hard one to judge but our Brucey did a fine job holding even stroke counts throughout the set and descending every rep correctly (bar one).
The camera came out on Sunday for some underwater and overwater filming. This involved swimmers performing a race start and fast turn; then they were filmed sprinting from a side view and front view. This information will be sent back to the swimmers' home coaches for them to review and make any changes they see fit.
Other Key Camp Features
Throughout the camp there was a strong team building ethos. Exercises included building a bridge out of straws that was 10cm high and could hold a Mars bar...
... Obviously, beacuse these were serious athletes the coaches were forced to eat the mars bars themselves rather than leave temptation in the tired, hungry hands of the swimmers. The sacrifices coaches make for their swimmers!
Of particular interest was the physio screening that each athlete underwent. It's an area we'd like to explore more within Doncaster so having access to knowledgeable experts for a weekend was highly advantageous. Every athlete was given a detailed screening to identify weaknesses and issued with a complete list of exercises for strengthening the affected areas. They'll return to their home programme with all the screening data and exercises, their regular coaches can then ensure the exercises are being performed correctly and frequently.
As always, there was the usual nutrition lecture. It stressed the importance of maintaining a balanced diet and eating smaller portions more frequently: trying to keep energy levels similar all day long instead of the big peeks and troughs typical of a normal 3 meals a day. And of course, the importance of staying hydrated throughout the day by drinking regularly, not just in and around training.
Athletes should always have a drinks bottle with them!
Just like many of you have started to do since Russ Barber's June workshop, we discussed why it's important to snack immediately after training to start replenishing as quickly as possible. A good quote she came up with:
In a long, 3 day weekend, it's possible to cover a lot of topics. The final one was Strength and Conditioning. Leg strength was highlighted as was all body stability and body alignment. Time and time again, they wasted no opportunity to stress correct body positioning and control during strength work.
Technique is all important!
All of the swimmers selected for the camp were tasked with keeping a log book which had to be filled in after each session and taken to their group coach at designated times. When on these camps time management skills are vital and the swimmers must know where they need to be and at what time.
An important lesson: Lateness is simply not accepted!
The advice from louise was "Aim to be early then if something goes wrong you will probably end up being on time. If you aim to be on time and something unexpected happens, you will almost certainly be late!"
In my opinion, the camp achieved what it was supposed to do. The coaches had chance to get to know their swimmers' strengths and weaknesses. The swimmers got to know each other and settle into the whole training camp enviornment. Hopefully they all learned from the experience. The next camp is in January at Leeds and hopefully the swimmers will be able to make the required improvements and move things forward.
What is The National Arena Swimming League
3 Oct: With just 1 fast week of exciting Commonwealth Games action to come before Winter Yorkshires and Round 1 of The National Arena Swimming League, you can bet everyone will be fired up for the first big weekend of the season. But what can you all expect from The National Arena Swimming League? As this is the first time in 5 years that the League has been run in the North East, for most of you this will be your first experience, so here's a brief introduction.
If we compare BML and PTL with Football's lower divisions, then Arena is akin to the Premiership - with supporters to match. No more small village teams battling it out for honours, next weekend Dartes will be going to war against City of Leeds, City of Sheffield and their ilk. With places in the National A and B final up for grabs, you can bet they're taking this very, very seriously. We have our war paint on stand by, and last month's White Rose meet suggests our young guns are ready to take the fight to our Yorkshire rivals.
Arena then is the biggest swim league in the country. The swimming is very fast, the supporters get very loud, and the reward for the top 2 teams over the three rounds is a National Final berth to do it all over again with the very best teams in the entire country. The National Final is arguably the most passionately contested swim meet you will ever see and it's held just down the road from us at Ponds Forge.
But first there are 3 rounds of nail biting action to earn a spot!
Our task, is to make the local league just as exciting, colourful, and passionately supported as the A and B finals.
The last time Dartes was involved was 2005. The North East league was split in two (Premier and Division 1) and after being back in the league for 3 years we were crowned Division 1 Champions. Unfortunately, before we could take our place with the big boys, the North East League was cancelled and hasn't run since. But now it's back, and so are we.
What can we expect in terms of results for 2010/2011?
Traditionally, the league in the North East has been dominated by City of Leeds - so has the National final! With their absence from the final for a few years, Plymouth Leander have taken their mantle. You can bet, under the leadership of Dave Calleja, Leeds are desperate to reclaim their National top spot. So much so that they joined the North West League before the North East was ressurected. We can expect City of Leeds to be going all out for league domination.
One of the few teams to have beaten Leeds in this competition in the past couple of decades is City of Sheffield. Just like Leeds, there was talk about them joining the Midlands League as a route to the National final. If Russ Barber was that keen to get his Sheffield stars to the carnival of the National Final he's clearly not about to let Leeds run away with the regional victory. A full on championship challenge is on the cards by our neighbours down the M18!
Those will be the teams to beat, and with A and B teams from each, they could potentially lock the top 4 spots. We need to take the challenge to them and see if we can't cause an upset or two. The huge depth that both those teams have will be less of an advantage in a league structure than at County Championships. If White Rose is anything to go by, we might just get close enough to give them a scare! Yorkshire will also be represented by Harrogate and District, another team who were taking part back in 2005.
From further north, we'll be visited by teams familiar to us from North East Regionals. The likes of Tynemouth, Richmond Dales, and Aquajets of Newcastle. Their strengths are unknown to us, but should make for a very exciting evening of swimming drama.Loud and Proud: live up to your reputation!
We need to make a statement in the stands for this one. Lets get the mighty big banner out of storage and get all of our supporters in Dartes shirts. Bring along the thunder sticks and the banger tubes, dust off the mini banners, and get your voices tuned and warmed up. For The Arena League be sure you're all heard and seen!
With the Winter Yorkshire Competition beforehand, make sure you get pride of place surrounding the Short Course competition pool. Decorate the stands with Dartes banners (the more the merrier) and make sure you all look the part!
On the subject of looking the part, in addition to team shirts and banners, we have face paints primed and ready for action; it's an Arena League Final tradition, but we see no reason why it can't be brought to the League proper. There's another scary surprise up our sleeves too, just waiting to be unleashed on the day (if they arrive in time). You'll have to wait and see, but each of you do your best to turn Arena League in to a swimming festival atmosphere to remember!