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News December 2011

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

A Merry Christmas Dunk

24 Dec: Christmas Eve at 6am, what were you doing?
For 41 of Doncaster's finest (and a balcony full of parents), 6am meant diving in to Adwick swimming pool for a Christmas Special. Enjoying Dryer Times Enjoying Dryer Times 90mins of work and the expectation of Water Polo to follow, maybe? Not this year, just speed work cleverly disguised as relays.

It's important that Christmas training doesn't end there though. Next week, while everyone is off school, and some lucky parents are off work, 5am mornings should be considered compulsory for everyone in Phase 4 and Phase 5. If you want to hit the New Year flying (rather than sinking under the extra weight of turkey and chocolate) you need to keep your training volume consistent with the previous few weeks.

Talking of sinking this morning ...

On the last day of our training camp in Tenerife, the coaches heard the murmurs and plotting from the wet people in the pool and made a hasty exit leaping over the fence around the pool. Alas, Adwick has no such fence, and caught at the wrong end of the pool the swimmers cunningly trapped the coaches with no where to go.

SPLASH!

SPLASH!

SPLASH!

How Coach John managed to wangle his way out of training this morning (and thus stay dry) we don't know. We certainly don't believe the tales of popping to Sainsbury's at 6am!

Merry Christmas everyone, see you all bright and early Tuesday morning!

Guess Who - Hint: use the force!

22 Dec: We received this a week or so ago and thought you'd like to spend Christmas trying to work out who the stars are. Apparently one of them is Joe Litchfield (Spa) but can you work out which one? The other three should be familiar to you all too, but again, some of us are struggling.

Have fun, and may the force be with you - always!

Final Test of 2011 for Phase 4

21 Dec: Phase 4 will be glad to hear that last night's 4x400m kick was their last test for 2011. Robert Kirk (Spa) was good enough to set a new squad record by way of seeing out the year.

So how do we rate these average times (far right column)?
Anyone under 8mins is doing a good job, that's where we expect most of you to be. The time to beat if you want to hold your head high is 7:30 though! Lets see more of you being determined to get down to that mark in the new year.

Those of you at 8-9mins are doing okay, depending on how long you've been in the squad. Ultimately, everyone should be dipping beneath 8mins after a year in P4. Anyone with an average slower than 9mins need to get focused on knocking off big chunks before next time. They have a lot of work to do very, very quickly! But again, it all depends how long you've been in the squad - progress does tend to happen quickly for those who work hard.

Anyone approaching 10mins for any round of this set are simply not trying and are in for a shock during future kick sets.

Pos Name Date Rep 1 Rep 2 Rep 3 Rep 4 Avg
1 Robert Kirk 20 Dec 2011 7:23 7:25 7:33 7:23 7:26
2 Georgia Stead 20 Dec 2011 7:27 7:35 7:40 7:22 7:31
3 Kathryn Shepheard 20 Dec 2011 7:46 7:45 7:49 8:04 7:51
4 Joshua Reasbeck 20 Dec 2011 7:47 7:52 7:50 8:01 7:52
5 Lucy Clarke 20 Dec 2011 7:48 7:55 8:02 8:18 8:00
6 Rebecca Heywood 20 Dec 2011 8:04 8:00 7:57 8:07 8:02
7 Georgia Wright 20 Dec 2011 7:44 8:49 8:10 8:16 8:14
8 Lily Metcalfe 20 Dec 2011 8:07 8:03 8:39 8:37 8:21
 
9 Amber Hardy 20 Dec 2011 8:02 8:30 8:32 8:34 8:24
10 Laura Brookes 20 Dec 2011 8:04 8:32 8:33 8:33 8:25
11 Gillian Clarke 20 Dec 2011 8:32 8:40 8:51 8:48 8:42
12 Mathew Jubb 20 Dec 2011 8:45 8:58 9:05 8:52 8:55
13 Oswald Hood 20 Dec 2011 8:52 8:52 8:56 9:02 8:55
14 Chloe Key 20 Dec 2011 9:07 9:09 9:09 9:05 9:07
15 Olivia Drury 20 Dec 2011 9:07 9:29 9:15 9:06 9:14
16 Lauren Heywood 20 Dec 2011 9:15 9:15 9:22 9:08 9:15
 
17 Harry Butterworth 20 Dec 2011 9:23 9:22 9:30 9:16 9:22
18 Chantelle Waugh 20 Dec 2011 9:25 9:25 9:28 9:24 9:25
19 Eleanor Vodden 20 Dec 2011 9:43 9:48 9:37 9:25 9:38
20 Courtney Massey 20 Dec 2011 9:35 10:13 9:42 9:34 9:46
 
21 Lauren Jarvis 20 Dec 2011 9:37 10:35 10:10 9:57 10:04
22 Joe Gatus 20 Dec 2011 10:55 10:22 10:11

Stroke Counting and Race Pace

20 Dec: It's a very old, basic technique for improving stroke efficiency, but few other methods are as effective. Counting strokes tells swimmers exactly how efficiently they've swum immediately, without any coach input. Of course, it becomes even more useful when you check your swim time against it too.

Phase 4 in particular are going to be doing lots of stroke counting over Christmas; they're going to have numbers bursting out of their ears. Those stroke counts are then going to be put to use in race pace work and those lucky souls travelling to Harrogate in the New Year will have to race and count all at the same time (and we'll task parents with counting strokes too, just to make sure the kids are accurate).

So what do you think is the point of counting strokes during race pace work?

Here's a prediction:
The SC for the first 50m of a 200m race will be less than the last 50m.

Here's another prediction:
The SC for the slowest 50m of a 200m race will be higher than the fastest.

We mentioned the magical word Efficiency earlier, and if we're going to swim fast, we need to learn how to be as efficient as possible, so we waste as little energy as possible. Knowing our Stroke Counts (SC), and knowing how to prevent them increasing when we get tired, is a useful skill to improve the way we race. So here's what you need to know.

Firstly, stroke counts are obviously dependant on the size of pool. For Phase 4 your target stroke count for each training pool is shown below. If you can't manage those targets yet, work at it - they're meant to be challenging. Either way the Difference column tells you how to compare counts from the different pools.

PoolP4 TargetDifference
Hall Cross SC: 10 -2
Adwick SC: 12
St James SC: 15 +3

Secondly, always remember, it's the worst length that counts!
Don't get all smiley after swimming the first length on 4 strokes (having fly kicked for half of it), every length needs to be consistent, and don't forget that whatever you're doing in training will be put to the test in Saturday morning's race pace work. You need to come to Saturday's set armed with your own personal stroke count in mind, then see how close you can get to it without loosing speed.

Which brings us nicely to split times.
Saturday morning will be the famous 20x50m on Backstroke (don't worry, we'll cover the other strokes in future weeks). You need to know your target 50m splits to go with your super efficient stroke count. How do you work out those target splits? Simples ...

Take your 200m PB (or target race time), add 2sec because we'll be starting with a turn, not a fast racing start, and divide into 4 equal parts:
A PB of 2:38 for example, would give target splits of 40sec (don't forget to add the 2sec for the missing start).
If that's your PB, then you need to hit 40sec on each of those 20x50m on Saturday - and also work at staying consistent with your stroke count!

A Festive 2000m

18 Dec: Guess what, this won't be the last test set before Christmas for Phase 4!
Guess when that will be ;-)

Almost Biggest Improver Biggest Improver The most noticeable point to emerge from Friday night was the rapid improvements being made by our school of Marlins. In fact 4 out of the 5 were the top 4 improvers with Lauren Heywood (Min) knocking off 2:28mins; Chloe Key (Min) another big 2:22min improvement; Eleanor Vodden (Min) another 1:36min to go with biggest improver in the 800s last week; and the youngest of the Litchfield clan, Grace Litchfield (Min), coming home 1:26 faster! The one letting them down was also set for a big improvement at the 1530m mark, but the distance got a bit much for her swimming cap which went off somewhere on its own, leaving Rebecca Heywood (Min) to struggle with tangling hair for the final 500m or so.

Away at the front though, Georgia Stead (Adw) was doing her usual thing of letting Robert Kirk (Spa) set the pace (shame on you Georgia), and the two went off in search of the magical 28min mark. They didn't quite conquer it, but a valiant effort none the less.

Pos Name Date 810m 1530m 2010m
1 Robert Kirk 16 Dec 2011 11:08 21:17 28:00
2 Georgia Stead 16 Dec 2011 11:15 21:24 28:05
3 Leanne Davies 16 Dec 2011 11:36 22:24 29:40
4 Amber Hardy 16 Dec 2011 11:56 22:56 30:14
5 Rebecca Heywood 16 Dec 2011 11:56 22:55 30:30
6 Katie Pendlebury 16 Dec 2011 13:07 24:15 31:14
7 Laura Brookes 16 Dec 2011 12:09 23:30 31:19
8 Lauren Jarvis 16 Dec 2011 12:36 24:03 31:41
 
9 Eleanor Vodden 16 Dec 2011 12:54 24:23 31:56
10 Kathryn Shepheard 16 Dec 2011 12:36 24:24 31:59
11 Oswald Hood 16 Dec 2011 12:58 24:36 32:09
12 Grace Litchfield 16 Dec 2011 12:18 23:18 33:16
13 Lauren Heywood 16 Dec 2011 13:26 25:59 33:58
14 Lucy Clarke 16 Dec 2011 13:24 25:51 34:02
15 Olivia Drury 16 Dec 2011 12:46 24:00 34:10
16 Chloe Key 16 Dec 2011 12:15 23:33 34:31
 
17 Caitlin Feirn 16 Dec 2011 12:43 24:04 35:06
18 Thananya Kaewsanthia 16 Dec 2011 12:55 24:37 35:35
19 Chantelle Waugh 16 Dec 2011 12:50 24:21 35:37
20 Nucharee Kaewsanthia 16 Dec 2011 14:03 27:15 37:35

So why do we do these sets, and why so often?
Once upon a time, our swimmers seemed a little scared of racing 800m and 1500m. If the Animal Squad is anything to go by that fear is now gone, but it still takes practice to know how hard you can push these events and how to deal with the pain of doing so; there aren't many opportunities to race them at Open Meets. That point is highlighted well by the massive improvements made after a swimmer's first 2 or 3 attempts. Suddenly they get the confidence to almost sprint the swim and the times come tumbling down.

Playing follow my leader Standard Setter The second reason is the training effect. Working at Anaerobic Threshold pace for 30mins (which is effectively what this is) helps the body develop very effectively.

And finally, it shows the coaches who is performing in training and who is sand-bagging. We can do all kinds of calculations on these times to figure out exactly what you're capable of in other sets. Of course, it also highlights those who lack the determination and courage to excel in this toughest of tough sports.

For 2012, the challenge is to attack these sets while keeping an eye on the level of skill involved. Turns are always the first thing to suffer, so they need to be a focus point in future. Stroke efficiency usually hits an all time low by the 800m mark, only to improve a little in the final few lengths. It's very important to keep a close eye on Stroke Counts to stop such deterioration from happening! But we'll mention Stroke Counts in a little more detail soon.

Christmas is Training Season

17 Dec: We've heard a lot of moaning and groaning of late about that training session we have planned next Saturday. Some of you seem to think the 24th December is a special day of some kind. What is it you call it: Christmas Eve or something? A few years ago our then Head Coach had training planned for the day after too. The Head Caretaker dude at Hall Cross said: "Yeah that's fine", and we were all set for a Christmas day 7,000m splash. Alas the actual day-to-day caretakers kicked off and that one got kicked in to touch. Can't understand why.

Anyway, the point is, that as far as training is concerned, the festive season is the perfect opportunity to ramp up the volume. What else are you going to do? Sit on the sofa with gran watching repeats on TV? Much better to burn off those mince pies and get a head start over the slackers for the new year.

That's how the big guys in the States always seem to see things. The number of US Colleges organising killer Christmas training camps is unbelievable, and many of those staying at home see their weekly yardage fly through the roof.

One of those expecting a monster Christmas training programme is none other than God of the swimming pool himself, Ryan Lochte. Think about how many sessions you do each week; for our top guys around 8 or 9 two hour sessions. That gives you around 16 or 18 sessions in a fortnight. Now watch this interview with Ryan. He talks about an expected two week period containing 36 sessions! That's roughly double what Max does normally.

Bet you're all looking forward to Christmas now, aren't you?

Merry Christmas from the Boys

10 Dec: Three of the older boys at Dartes would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a merry christmas:

Resident comedian Pete has also produced an entertaining christmas video starring Head Elf Andy, Elf Dave, and dancing legend Derek Fretwell. The boys have also been learning to surf too, they clearly need to spend more time in the pool training.
- The Elf Coaches
- Surfing Stars

But of course, Christmas wouldn't be complete with out the girls showing the boys how dancing is really done. So here they are, our multiple Yorkshire Gold medal winning relay team, performing on the poolside at a leisure centre near you soon.

Merry Christmas everyone ...

3rd in North East - Again!

10 Dec: Today was the regional final of the National Arena Swimming League North East. The top 3 teams from the south division (essentially Yorkshire) were joined by the top 3 from the north. The result ended up as pretty much 3 dual meets in one, with City of Leeds and City of Sheffield battling out for places in the National A and B finals; Dartes and City of Sunderland battling for 3rd place; and Tynemouth holding off the challenge of Gateshead and Wickham for 5th and 6th. Getting behind the team

To say each of those 3 sub-meets was close, is a little ridiculous. Hard to see how each pairing could have been more evenly matched. The final result doesn't really do it justice. For what felt like an eternity, Dartes and Sunderland were bouncing around with gaps of just 1 or 2 points. Then half way through the final round of teams we managed to pull ahead by a convincing margin - but it really was neck and neck for a long time.

We fully expected a strong challenge from the red and white of Sunderland though. The virtual compiled results from the two divisions had us too close together for comfort through the first two rounds, and with a number of key personnel missing for the final we made the decision to drag people in just for a single swim if it could make a difference. It paid off, so a big thank you to everyone who came along to strengthen the teams.

For 2012, we hear a strong rumour that another big club from the North will be joining in the fun. If it's the name we've heard, the battle for a top 3 position will become even tougher. Between them, Sunderland, and Newburn (if they decide to take part - they didn't turn up to round 1 this year, but were expected to compete), next year's regional final should be electric. First though, we have to make sure we finish top 3 in the Yorkshire rounds again. Enough motivation to train hard for the rest of the season!

Pos Team Points
1 City of Leeds A 262
2 City of Sheffield A 247
3 Donc Dartes 181
4 City of Sunderland 165
5 Tynemouth 103
6 Gateshead and Wickham 93

Wearing Dartes with Pride Getting behind the team The points have yet to be confirmed, but we're pretty sure the placings are accurate.

So what happens now regarding the North East's representatives at the National final at Ponds Forge in the new year? Well the top 2 teams go through by default - they've earned their spots. The remaining 6 or so spots are determined by a virtual final that includes all the results from the other regions up and down the country. There's an outside chance that we might claim one, but with the strength of the North West (they took all the extra spots last year) it's extremely doubtful.

Nevertheless, for a team without 'City' in its name, that still has to train in a 4 lane 25 yard pool most of the week (1st, 2nd, and 4th all have lovely 10 lane 50m pools), and that only has around 90 members, 3rd place in the North East is rather good! Give yourselves a pat on the back - you deserve it.

Not much Snow but Plenty of Frills

10 Dec: While some of phase 4 and 5 made the long trek up to Sunderland at the weekend for the NERs, a sizable Dartes contingent descended on Ponds Forge for the City of Sheffield Snow Frills event. As you'd expect at this time of year, clubs came from all over the country to compete, looking for Long Course qualifying times for Counties, Regionals, and the faster ones, maybe even Nationals. Our swimmers were up against some pretty tough competition then. Tough for them, but with a pretty large squad to contend with, for Coach Kevin and Coach Keith the challenge was on!

First challenge: How to cope with all those girls! With only 3 boys competing this weekend (and one of them only doing the first event) they certainly had their work cut out! They coped admirably though, even if they were a bit outnumbered. But onto the swimming ...

A weekend of big PBs for Harry A weekend of big PBs for Rebecca To the first race then and competing in his only event of the weekend was Matthew Jubb (Adw) who pulled out a creditable swim to gain a new PB but unfortunately he was to miss his Yorkshire Qualifying Time by the narrowest of margins, literally: 0.01! He still has time - just.

Another boy only here here for one event on Saturday was Robbie Casson (Adw), who did the opposite. He sneaked his YQT by a mere 0.02! Considering it was the first time he'd done it Long Course suggests more is to come from this young man. So one race in and they boys are now down to one remaining male amongst the gaggle of girls on poolside.

Step forward Harry Butterworth (Adw). Harry pulled out some fantastic swims, including a 200m Freestyle that saw him win his heat by a considerable distance. This was followed by PB after PB and well deserved silverware in the form of a Bronze in the 200m Breaststroke and a Silver in the 50m event. Considering there were only awards for the top 3 in each age group and he was up against serious competition, this is a fantastic achievement for Harry. He was joined briefly on Sunday morning by Robbie but only for the first race. Robbie had a crack at the 200m backstroke, again chasing his Yorkshire time for the spring and he achieved that by a considerable margin. So, job done for the boys, now how about all those girls?

Taylor Hardy (Adw) and Gillian Clarke (Arm) battled it out for the 9 year old girls. Their age group was a mixed 9/10 age group so it was always going to be a challenge, but both girls performed admirably with big PBs and strong swimming from both of them with a 4th place for Gill in the 50m Backstroke, 5th in the 200m Breaststroke with Taylor always not that far behind her.

Rhiannon will be well pleased we managed to dig up this old photo Georgia is ticking off Yorkshire times quicker than the ink dries Some standout swims from Georgia Whetton (Arm) saw her make her mark for the 11 year olds (and getting her first mention on the website) while up an age group, the rapidly improving Rebecca Heywood (Min) had a fantastic weekend with a run of PBs; her superb 200m IM swim probably being the highlight.

Eleanor Vodden (Min) showed her Breaststroke skills and Leanne Davies (Edl) proved again how good she is at Breaststroke with a Gold in the 50m event for the 15 year olds. There was another Breaststroke medal for our girls coming from the recently returned Rhiannon Hill (Spa). For those of you who don't know Rhiannon, she won NER and Yorkshire Golds with Dartes a few years ago (Number 33 on the medal table), before making a move to City of Leeds. She's been a very welcome addition to our Masters squad since the start of the season and earned herself a Bronze medal in the 200m at Snow Frills.

More superb swims in the 100m and 200m Backstroke from 13 year old Georgia Wright (Arm) with a 5th place in the 200m event and a Silver in the 100m. After the disappointment of her DQ in the 200m event at Bradford, Georgia was really going for this one and her Yorkshire time for next year a just reward for all her hard work. More good swims from Molly Butterworth (Adw), Chloe Key (Min), Lauren Heywood (Min), Georgia Stead (Adw), Rebecca Wright (Arm), Emma Stringer (Min), Grace Litchfield (Min), Caitlin Feirn (Ros), Tilly Arrand (SAS), Katy Burton (Arm) Courtney Massey (Edl) Kathryn Shepheard (Adw), and Katie Pendlebury (Ros) kept up the Dartes presence. Told you there were a lot of girls!

Now, how about an animal squad event? Alas, none of the boys stepped up to battle the 200m Butterfly but a smattering of girls had a go. Step forward Gill Clarke, Katie Pendlebury, Courtney Massey, Kathryn Shepheard and Rhiannon Hill! All conquered the dreaded Long Course 200m Butterfly and rightly earned their place in the animal squad for this season. Plus there was suitable reward for our girls with Gill and Katie taking the Bronze in their respective age groups and Rhiannon taking the Silver to add to her Silver in the 50m event.

So a long, long weekend in Sheffield. Not too sure how many of our swimmers actually saw daylight on Saturday and Sunday and it was certainly a mixed bag of performances, with disappointment and elation in equal measure. But everyone gave it their all and more importantly, Coaches Kevin and Keith live to fight another day!

11mins broken in new look 2x800m

7 Dec: With training camps and holidays it's been a while since we last squeezed in the 2x800m Freestyle test. Plagued by illness as we have been so far this season, many also missed it last night - they will be disappointed. Last time though, we predicted that 11mins would soon be broken for the new distance in St James, and so it proved. Biggest improvement went to Eleanor Robert set the early pace Georgia Stead (Adw) took advantage of the early pace set by Robert Kirk (Spa) to dip under it twice. Both the leaders recording big PBs and averaging under 11mins.

The prize for biggest improvement goes to Eleanor Vodden (Min) though, lowering her average from 13:53 to 12:31! Courtney Massey (Edl) and Chloe Key (Min) weren't far behind either, both of them improving their fastest times by around a full mintue.

Pos Name Date 400m 800m 400m 800m Avg
1 Georgia Stead 6 Dec 2011 5:11 10:48 5:12 10:55 10:51
2 Robert Kirk 6 Dec 2011 5:13 10:50 5:20 11:08 10:59
3 Georgia Wright 6 Dec 2011 5:35 11:47 5:15 11:46 11:46
4 Amber Hardy 6 Dec 2011 5:31 11:40 5:39 11:54 11:47
5 Rebecca Heywood 6 Dec 2011 5:30 11:43 5:40 11:52 11:47
6 Kathryn Shepheard 6 Dec 2011 6:26 11:58 6:29 11:50 11:54
7 Laura Brookes 6 Dec 2011 6:26 11:47 6:33 12:02 11:54
8 Leanne Davies 6 Dec 2011 6:23 12:11 6:26 11:53 12:02
9 Harry Butterworth 6 Dec 2011 5:55 12:52 5:26 11:36 12:14
 
10 Eleanor Vodden 6 Dec 2011 6:19 12:18 6:24 12:45 12:31
11 Lauren Heywood 6 Dec 2011 6:28 12:34 6:18 12:30 12:32
12 Joseph Gatus 6 Dec 2011 6:17 12:54 6:21 12:40 12:47
13 Lucy Clarke 6 Dec 2011 6:11 12:50 6:10 12:46 12:48
14 Courtney Massey 6 Dec 2011 6:16 12:54 6:18 12:44 12:49
15 Lauren Jarvis 6 Dec 2011 6:14 13:00 6:16 12:57 12:58
16 Oswald Hood 6 Dec 2011 5:53 12:38 6:19 13:20 12:59
17 Chloe Key 6 Dec 2011 6:25 13:05 6:37 13:23 13:14
18 Thananya Kaewsanthia 6 Dec 2011 6:12 13:10 6:13 13:32 13:21
 
19 Olivia Drury 6 Dec 2011 6:27 13:26 6:35 13:48 13:37
20 Gillian Clarke 6 Dec 2011 6:28 13:36 6:35 14:11 13:53
21 Nucharee Kaewsanthia 6 Dec 2011 6:56 13:52 7:11 14:07 13:59
22 Mathew Jubb 6 Dec 2011 5:58 12:28
23 Chantelle Waugh 6 Dec 2011 6:21 13:03

Apologies to Matthew Jubb (Adw) and Chantelle Waugh (Arm). Your second round attempt got a little confused so it had to be missed off the results.

Backstroke Dominance and the new 150m Freestyle at NER Short Course

6 Dec: The combined Senior/Junior and Age Group North Eastern Championships held in two adjacent pools on the same weekend promised to be eventful with coaches and some parents split between two pools and running orders. As always our swimmers rose to the occasion. The Senior swimmers provided their fair share of excitement, and with heats in the morning and finals after lunch they had a busy schedule.

Distance Star Troff Backstroking Medalist Jamie Great PBs across the team and five of our swimmers reached the finals. Bare in mind that finals were open age (i.e. Senior finals) and most of our team are still Juniors! One of those Juniors, Jamie Clarke (Arm), reached the Senior final for 50m Backstroke and finished 9th overall in 28.97. As the second fastest Junior though, he earned himself a Silver medal too.

Elliot Trofimowicz (Spa) battled through the 1500m Freestyle to take the Bronze in 16.51.10, a PB of 43.90 seconds. Not quite in the medals this time, Richard Lee (Spa) reached finals in four events coming 6th, 7th (twice) and 8th and delivered solid performances, just fractionally outside NQT in the 50m Freestyle.

Shannon Dodson (Adw) reached the final in her pet event, the 100m Backstroke. The youngest of the finalists at just 14 finished 5th overall in an explosive final and took the Junior Gold along the way. Finally, Max Litchfield (Spa) probably had the most tiring of schedules amongst our Senior/Junior swimmers with 6 events across the two mornings and 6 finals in the afternoons. His reward, in addition to swimming inside NQT on every swim, was 1 Gold, 4 Silver and 1 Bronze medal. Of those 12 National Times swum, two were new ones for him this season (400m Freestyle and 200m Freestyle). Good work Max!

Could our age group contingent match the prodigious talent of their elders? Of course, they exceeded all of our expectations. Mark Beech (Spa) battled off strong competition from the eventual 12 year old BAGCAT winner to take Silver in 200m Backstroke. We'll leave you wondering who won Gold for just a little while longer. Laura Brookes (Edl) showed true grit to dominate the 10 year old girls age group, taking Gold in 400m IM; 4 Silvers in 100m Butterfly, 200m Freestyle, 400m Freestyle, and 200m IM; and Bronze in 200m Butterfly. Lucy Clarke (Ros) put in a strong performance on 200m Butterfly narrowly missing the Bronze medal claimed by her team mate Noisy Laura, Lucy finished 4th.

Yet another Backstroke medal, courtesy of Joe The little noise machine Joseph Gatus (Spa) battled strong competition to earn yet another Backstroke medal for Dartes, this time Bronze in the 100m. While Doncaster's unlikely Breaststroke champion, Amber Hardy (Adw), still managed to dig deep and earn her first two NER medals despite a rough month or so leaving her out of sorts. A gritty, well fought Silver for 200m Breaststroke and Bronze behind training partner Laura in the 400m IM showing off her class and unleashing the sparkly smile we hope to see much more of in the new year.

Joe Litchfield (Spa) gave a Gold medal winning performance in the 200m Butterfly and also took Bronze in 200m Backstroke with a time of 2.22.13. Jarvis Parkinson (Arm) was on form too, following Joe in the 200m Butterfly to take Silver, another in 400m IM, and Bronze in 200m Breaststroke. He also managed to add more National Times to his repertoire in those last two and is only a little over 1sec away in the Butterfly too.

George Scatchard (Spa) added his first NER medals, for Backstroke - what else - with Silver in the 100m and Bronze in the 200m with two commanding personal bests.

The biggest (and best) surprise of the weekend though, and dare I mention Best Comedy moment too, came courtesy of Alex Pollard (Arm). A relative novice to this level of competition having never won medals at North East Championships before, Alex managed to win medals in all 9 of his events, and probably sent a shiver of fright down the spine of the estabilished stars of his age group. Saturday was Silverday with Silver medals in all the events he contested: 1500m Freestyle and 200m Butterfly, two of the toughest events on the programme; 200m IM and 100m Backstroke.

Sunday started strong with yet another Silver medal in the 400m IM (the third of the toughest 3 events) and then came the 200m Freestyle. Alex went out strong, led from the start, and dominated his heat. On the 3rd 50m he picked up the pace just like the coaches tell you to, and pulled away further. He hit the timing pad way ahead of the field. Had he done enough for Gold he no doubt asked himself as he glanced up at the scoreboard to check out his time. He'd find out after City of Leeds' Lewis Evers finished the next heat.

In the 3 or 4 seconds he floated there wondering, his other rivals turned in the lanes around him, and Coach Dave and a few swimmers were busy shouting "2 More! 2 More!" from the poolside.

Finally he got the message and gave chase to the pack. After his little breather, he managed to catch all but one down the final 50m and nearly him too. Lewis of course went a little faster in the next heat, but only by 1sec! Alex had to settle for Bronze.

After the necessary ribbing that comes from not being able to count to 8, came the bitter disappointment of realising he'd missed his first NER championship Gold through a lapse in concentration. How would he respond to this knock back?

Shannipants: Beating the big girls Joe playing supporting act to Alex for a change In true Alex style he came back fighting. Three events were left to swim and Alex wanted that Gold now more than ever. He knew he could beat his friend, rival, and eventual BAGCAT winner from City of Leeds, and after the 200m Freestyle battled on to take Gold in the 200m Backstroke, Gold in the 100m Butterfly, and yes, Gold in the 400m Freestyle. His fiery finish to the weekend also earned him 2nd place in the BAGCAT points. A job well done!

We couldn't let him get away with a 6 length 200m race without repercussions though. After touching 1st in his 200m Backstroke a frantic Dave shouted over from poolside that he'd got 2 more to swim - what a rotten trick!

A recurrent theme across the weekend was Dartes dominance in Backstroke. From one weekend alone we had Jamie Clarke take 50m Silver, Shannon Dodson 100m Gold, Mighty Max 100m and 200m Silver, Joseph Gatus 100m Bronze, George Scatchard Silver in 100m and Bronze in 200m. Alex Pollard 100m Silver and 200m Gold. Mark Beech 200m Silver and Joe Lichfield 200m Bronze. Quite an achievement by our swimmers.

We were also well represented in the distance events with Elliot and Alex adding to their silverware and all of our swimmers shaving significant time off their 800m and 1500m Freestyle bests.

It was also a weekend of record breaking. Congratulations to the following for smashing Club or Age Group records this weekend: Alex, Joe, Jarvis, Max, Jessica Gillatt (SAS), Heidi Smith (Arm), and Caitlin Dixon (Arm).

Making Christmas Count Double

1 Dec: With Christmas just around the corner many of you will be looking online to do your festive shopping. With that in mind, we thought we'd ask someone to introduce the benefits of EasyFundraising.org.uk to you. Looking down the list of supporters already donating to the Dartes cause we have the Litchfield household way out in front booking hotels for open meets through easy fundraising - earning themselves a discount and over £230 for the club in to the bargain!

A little further down the league table of top fundraisers though we have the Clarkes. Now the head of the house let slip the other day that they buy everything through it, including some very posh dog food from a very obscure site; but also school uniforms, groceries, chocolate, and clothes. In fact she raved about it so much that she offered the services of her daughter Lucy Clarke (Ros) to tell you all about it.

So here's Lucy twisting everyone's arm to sign up and start raising big money for Dartes ...

As you all know, it's now less than 4 weeks until Christmas (Ho, Ho, Ho) and we need to raise more money for our cool club. Do you still need to do your last minute Christmas shopping? If you do, you can shop online and raise money at the same time with EasyFundraising.org.uk!

EasyFundraising.org.uk is a quirky (like Dartes) and quick way to get that extra little boost for our club! Overall we've already raised £400 through it with just a few people signed up, so just imagine how much more dosh we can conjure up with everyone joining in, especially at Christmas with all the presents that you need to buy for us hard training kids.

100s of well-known high street stores participate in it such as: Marks and Spencers; New Look; Hotel Chocolat; Boots; Debenhams; Asda; Sainsbury's; iTunes; Thorntons and many more and not just the boring ones Dave mentioned ;-) You will be surprised at just how many there are!

Every time you buy online via EasyFundraising.org.uk, a proportion of money goes to Dartes, in some cases as much as 5%. Many voucher and discount codes are shown for each retailer; you can get extraordinary deals, and it doesn't cost you anything at all! Everyone is a winner!

Hassling to get into stores and bustling around in a crowded shopping centre isn't fun so shopping online is amazing and doesn't waste your valuable time when you could be having a rest from taking the kids swimming!!

So why not join up today?
This really is a brilliant idea!

Leading up to Christmas they're also emailing out big deals almost daily (such as 25% off at Gap) and numerous competitions with huge prizes. Once you're on, you'll wonder why you'd never heard of it before. Just be sure to follow the links on EasyFundraising.org.uk to your favourite stores, rather than going direct, or you may miss out on the donation!