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News July 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

Youth Nationals Review and the rise of The Silver Bullet

30 Jul: There's been an awful lot of high-class swimming to devour over the past week or so and hopefully you've all been paying attention. What lessons have you learned from the action you've seen? The most important development that I've noticed time and time again, both at Nationals and World Championships, is just how tight swimming has suddenly become.

Max: The Silver Bullet We've seen Mark Beech (Spa) miss out on a 200m Backstroke National Final by just 0.07s (and actually had someone else squeeze inside that gap too). Max Litchfield (Spa) missed Gold in the 100m by an even tighter 0.02s. Earlier this evening Richard Lee (Spa) finished 7th in the 15/16 years 50m Freestyle; not just 7th, but equal 7th! The boy finishing 1 place ahead of that pair had just 0.01s advantage and there were actually 5 boys between 24.50 and 24.58 - can you even see such a tiny difference? That's just a few of the tight finishes affecting our small team at Nationals.

Over the other side of the World and some of the greatest athletes on the planet were winning and losing by similarly tiny margins. Dana Vollmer beat Alicia Coutts in the 100m Butterfly by 0.07s. Over to the 100m Backstroke and Jing Zhao beat Anastasia Zueva by 0.01s! Then of course the dead heat between the French boys on 100m Backstroke, but what might have escaped your attention in that same race: just 0.03s behind Ryosuke Irie's Bronze medal was Nick Thoman in 4th. A shared Gold medal is one thing, but we were ever so close to having a shared Bronze in the same event too! You think that's close? The next American, David Plummer, was a mere 0.03s behind Nick. Almost a three-way tie for Bronze - scary stuff. And then while writing this what should Miss Miley go and do? In the words of the beaten Bronze medalist and glamour girl of Australian Swimming: "point zero one!" said Steph Rice behind Smiley's interview.

The mind boggles. A confident pair of Club Records for Shannon
But while it boggles, the smart swimmers are working on their finishes - because the state of World Swimming is such that races are now coming down to the touch like never before. Practically every nation on the planet now knows how to produce champion swimmers, and everyone in the UK now has access to a squad just like Dartes that has the water time and expertise behind it to put young athletes on the medal dias. The big difference between those who achieve success and those who don't, is determined almost entirely on who pays attention to the tiniest of detail. Get everything right and you might just squeeze in to a final. Get something wrong, anything, and the chances are you won't! So practice, practice, practice and get all the little skills as perfect as you possibly can

But pay extra special attention to how you FINISH!!!

Now Coach Wallace was particularly excited building up to Youth Nationals. Could this be Max's year? Day 1 would see him straight in to the 100m Backstroke and a strong heat swim put him centre stage for the fastest semi. He returned in the evening determined to do the same leading in to the final. He swam a 2nd PB in a row, but was touched out by Peterborough's Liam Knight who would take Lane 4 for the big show down. Still a centre lane for Max though a finger nail behind.

Also swimming on that first day was Shannon Dodson (Adw) in the longer Backstroke event. Her performances this season have seen her claim all three club Long Course Backstroke records and pulling out another PB in the morning heats of the 200m had her lowering that one a little further still. Alas, 76th overall (they're only split in to age groups for semi-finals upwards) left her a little shy of the next round, but having just turned 14 she's one of the youngest at these championships out of 105 in that event.

First 2 National finals for Richard The next day was the start of a fabulous series of 100m Freestyle swims by Richard that would see him hit a PB to proceed to the Semi-Final, then another PB to reach his first ever National Final, and ultimately swim yet another PB to claim 8th place and snatch the previous club record from David Holmes set in December last year. The new mark is 53.66.

While that was going on of course, Max was progressing through the 200m IM and finishing off his 100m Backstroke campaign. We had very high expectations going in to the Backstroke final. Second at the half way turn, trailing Liam by just 0.05s, he surfaced and charged for home. Afterwards one coach sent another coach a text message: "I was trying to swim the last 10m for him!" Clearly that was the mistake, don't try swimming Backstroke Coach, not even telepathically! Millfield's Joshua Booth sneaked past in the last few strokes to touch in 58.39, Max hit the timing pad in 58.41!

But a Silver medal that would lift him to 6th most successful Dartes swimmer of all time. A Gold would have put him 5th.

Never mind, attempt number 2 was just around the corner. Earlier in the day he'd qualified 2nd fastest for the Semi-Finals of the 200m IM. The danger man turned out to be his old Yorkshire rival Ryan Flanagan now swimming for City of Leeds. They've battled through this event together enough times to know each other inside out and probably shared the honours fairly evenly over the years too. In the Semi-Final Max got his own back to claim Lane 4 for the final, but not by much. 0.16 was all that separated the middle lanes leading in to the Final.

Max started with his usual strategically paced 50m Butterfly (think Hannah Miley) to turn 6th.
Ryan turned first.
Max charged down the Backstroke to take over the lead.
Ryan was second.
That exertion took its toll this time though, and Ryan cruised in front on Breaststroke never to be caught again. Turning 5th after the Breaststroke, Max's final Freestyle flourish pulled him back for Silver medal number 2. Not often we see a Yorkshire 1-2 these days, but that one certainly was. Well done boys.

We christened him Man of Bronze after his triple Bronze medal winning campaign of 2009. This year a new name: The Silver Bullet. Needless to say, both Silver Finals resulted in new club records being set.

Brave 800m performance for Caitlin In the excitment it was easy to miss the gruelling 16 lap lunch time special. Caitlin Dixon (Arm) braved her way to 24th spot in the girls' longest event. She has a long way to go before challenging Becky Adlington of course but 9:25.40 was a respectable second swim of the day following her morning heat of the 200m Freestyle.

Growing in confidence this year, Shannon was back in action the next morning for the shorter of her two Backstroke events, the 100m. A very respectable 75th (out of 117) for the youngstar to lower her Club Record by almost 1sec. Richard was also back in the pool for the 100m Butterfly and 61st place while Max was quietly sneaking in to the 200m Freestyle and Backstroke Finals finishing 7th in both.

Sunday brought things to a conclusion. Max finishing his demanding week long programme with 6th in the 400m IM and Richard doing more sprint Freestyle damage (this time the 50m) with both Semi and Final packed in to the last evening. He was 7th in his second National final for yet another Club Record in 24.54.

Finally, they may no longer swim for Dartes, but we still like to keep track of our past stars. Sophie Taylor, now representing City of Leeds, managed to add to her National medal collection which she started with us 2 years ago with a Bronze medal. This week she stepped up to take the Silver for 200m Breaststroke and another Bronze in the 100m. Heading for the other of Yorkshire's 50m pools, Nicholas Grainger now representing City of Sheffield managed two finals: 7th in the 400m IM and 5th in the 1500m Freestyle. Last, but definitely not forgotten, Rachael Grainger picked up a Silver and Bronze in the City of Sheffield 4x200m and 4x100m teams. Congratulations to all three.

So to sum up the fortnight of top class racing at Ponds Forge, here's where we ended up in the Top Club contest:
13th Mens Club (Yorkshire's 3rd behind Leeds and Sheffield)
20th Club Overall (Yorkshire's 4th pipped by Hull)
Dartes TV ...

Review of Age-Group Nationals

30 Jul: It's the end of the season for our swimmers and that all important event that Dartes athletes aspire to have the privilege of swimming in - National Championships! This year four of our Age-Group boys qualified and went along to Ponds Forge in Sheffield to take part in this prestigious event. The atmosphere in training was buzzing when Head Coach Andrew Wallace handed out the National Squad polo shirts.

The Backstroke Boys For two of our swimmers Nationals was set to be a brand new experience: Jamie Clarke (Arm) and Mark Beech (Spa). It was a case of second time around for Jarvis Parkinson (Arm) and 3rd for Joe Litchfield (Spa).

Michael Phelps' coach Bob Bowman describes our Dartes coaching ethos best in one of his post Beijing interviews. He said about each good metre done in training: "It's about putting a little money in the bank every day, so when that big meet comes round, you can make one big withdrawal".

First day into Nationals saw Mark, Joe and Jamie (Yorkshire Champions all) up in the 100m Backstroke. Solid swims from all three boys, especially as it was a first time at Nationals for two of them, unfortunately no finals though. Mark finished in a respectable 15th place, Jamie in 16th place and Joe 20th.

One of the big things our coaches have been noticing all season is how our swimmers tend to not swim fast in mornings, especially at big meets with morning heats. It's a common problem in swimming, we're certainly not the only ones as evidenced at the recent World Championships. The problem is exasperated at Yorkshire and North East Regional Championships though when our top guys become accustomed to cruising through heats, confident that one of the middle lanes will still be theirs for the final. Even Rebecca Adlington suffers the morning blues:

"It is hard getting in there especially in the morning. I've never been that quick in the morning ever apart from the Olympics and with that the time difference was weird anyway"

But sport is all about over coming such problems, so next season let's all make a concerted effort to swim PBs in morning heats and swim faster still in the afternoon/evenings. Get out of the mind set of 'saving' something for finals and go in search of a record or two instead. At the higher level of the sport, there won't be any finals unless you perform in the heats!

Valuable lessons were learned from day 1 then. On day 2, up popped Jarvis for the 100m Freestyle and 200m Butterfly. Two morning best times later and Jarvis found himself set to return for both evening finals. Those of you who've followed Jarvis' career since the beginning will remember his early tendancy to swim a super charged first 50m, a very easy middle 100m, and then another fast 50m to finish. It's the usual young kid strategy for a 200m. He doesn't do that anymore, but look at his pacing from the heat and decide where improvement was needed: 32.07, 37.35, 39.12, and 37.80.

By now most of our young swimmers (if not their parents too) will know exactly what that should have looked like, so it'll be no suprise that the discussion taking place prior to the final was along the lines of: push harder on the middle 100m and don't be scared of going too hard on the 3rd 50m! Every 200m swim needs the 3rd 50m swimming as fast as possible. It's the lap where the big guys seem to make their move, whereas in reality it's usually the weaker swimmers who just can't keep the pace going.

The other 200m pacing point we've been stressing recently, is the need to hit the 100m turn within 2sec of your 100m best time; no point pushing the 3rd 50m if you're already out of the picture before you start it. Gratifying then, that Jarvis managed to improve on both when he returned for the final. Splits from the final are off Coach Dave's watch as the timing pad didn't register his hand touch at the 100m.

PB 1:08.232:30.76
*Unofficial time off stop watch

Jarvis Warming up Poolside A total PB of nearly 5sec for 5th place.

The other event of the day, the 100m Freestyle was a tough one. Due to the slashing of qualifying times for 2011, only 11 boys had entered. Indeed, rumour has it that up until the final qualifying meet at NER Championships last month, only 5 had recorded fast enough swims. One unfortunate 12 year old was to be dumped after the heats - no one wanted to be that boy!

Jarvis made sure of his place with a comfortable looking PB in the heat. So comfortable in fact that his 1:00.37 looked set to be demolished in the final - a sub minute swim was definitely on the cards.

Target pacing, according to Coach Dave was 28/30. After the heats, it looked like the medals would come off 58 or a very fast 59. A big PB was required from JP to get in amongst it, and an opening 29.48 (slower than heats: 29.36) didn't really suggest the sub-60 was about to happen let alone the medals. Never one to be beaten easily at the sprints he raced home for a trademark scorching hot final 50m, finishing 6th in 59.75!

On day 3 the Backstroke boys returned for the 200m and Mark looked much more determined to perform in the heats. A target time of 2:35 had been discussed beforehand as the likely standard required for a final spot, a Personal Best time needed of 2 seconds. In the end Mark managed 2:36.79 for a 1sec PB, and finished 12th; 10th spot for the final was taken in a time of 2:36.72 just 0.07 ahead! Mark was second reserve.

Joe performed well too. Another triple North East Champion in the same event he had the misfortune of being one of the youngest in the age group; ageing up a few weeks prior to the big day. Nevertheless he performed well and other than for an unfortunate DQ would have earned himself a good PB for a well fought race. Jamie also returned on Saturday to take a spot in the final heat of the 200m Backstroke. Another good solid swim saw him also take a reserve finalist place in 2:17.30. Not bad for his first Nationals.

Day four and Jarvis made another appearance and provided yet another demonstration of outstanding swimming. Sunday's event for Jarvis was 100m Butterfly. He managed another PB in the heats earning him a place in the final and then finishing 7th overall in yet another PB of 1:05.81.

Final day of the age group nationals and it was Jarvis again to swim in the 400m Individual Medley. Another good PB but not quite on the pace of the finalists. He still managed to be top finisher from the North East though, stressing once again that for anyone serious about competing at Nationals, you need to be challenging for Gold medals at Yorkshires and North Easterns. It got a little noisy towards the end of the heats as the final morning of Age Group Championships drew to an end. There was an air horn symphony all the way through the final heat for the 14 year olds - a trend maybe started by Dartes back in 2009!

Coach Dave Cuthbert adds:
"All told a pretty solid week's racing for our guys. A few lessons learned about taking the heats very seriously, but after that some great swims".

The Big Screen Most of those competing are used to being able to cruise in to finals. Mark and Joe for instance have only once been beaten in a Yorkshire or North Eastern Backstroke final in 3 years! Nationals is a little different though. Hard to comprehend that of the 20-30 kids qualifying in each age group (roughly), probably a third of each age-group arrives with exactly the same unbeaten status within their own region!

The Champion from the North East, up against the Champions from the North West, London, South East and South West, and all the other regions too. None of them is used to losing!

This is the big time as far as Age-Group swimming is concerned!

The nerves and unfamiliar familiar surroundings often play a big part. But that's what sport is all about. It's about learning to deal with adversity, and to thrive on it. For Mark and Jamie competing at their first Nationals was quite a nervous opener on Thursday; not quite realising how tough it is to reach the finals. For Jarvis in his second and Joe competing at his 3rd National Age-Groups a better understanding of the speed required.

Little bit of insight from one of our first timers at National - Mark Beech (via his mum).

"Qualifying for Nationals is actually the easy bit. Living up to it on the day is very, very tough!"

The pressure starts the moment you walk through the door in to Ponds Forge. You're expecting just another event - boy are you in for a culture shock!

First up its busy, very busy!
And none of the clubs you're used to seeing at Ponds Forge.

Next there's swimmer accreditation. Nothing like normal events where you just walk on to pool side, you have to go to the big ASA desk, identify yourself (the literature actually states bring your passport in case you're required for drug testing - these are under 14 year olds!), and get your swimmer's pass, which is like a coach's pass but for every single competing swimmer. Without that pass you won't be allowed on pool side so under no circumstances lose it (more pressure).

Then you eventually make it on to pool side, but only after rubbing shoulders with swimmers from teams you've never heard of. Teams from London, posh expensive private school teams, teams coached by former Olympians such as Mel Marshall (City of Derby), or former World Record holders like Zoe Baker (Cheetas) and teams from every corner of the UK and various islands off the coast too. Not to mention the odd top foreign age-group swimmer just to make the line up even stronger.

The Medal Dias Our Dartes guys of course, are well used to Ponds Forge. They swim there pretty much every month, so no surprises once they get out on deck.

Err, not quite!

Walking out of the changing rooms you're met by the back of a great big advertising board running the entire width of the pool hiding the pool hall from the entrance. On the other side, still hidden at the moment, is the medal dias, surrounded by fresh green plants with the British Swimming/British Gas advertising back drop. The swimmers find out all of that once they emerge from behind it.

But that's not all.

Running the length of each side of the pool are the triangular advertising boards you see at major international meets. They keep you 1 metre back from the pool's edge, but also add to the high pressure atmosphere. Ahead of you, hanging on cables above the diving pit is a giant video screen. Blaring from the sound system you hear the voices of Rebecca Addlington, Liam Tancock, even Michael Phelps and various other high profile stars of swimming wishing you the best of luck as you watch them on the big screen.

Suddenly you realise this is the most serious sporting event you've ever competed in.
Welcome to Nationals!

Club Distribution at Season's End

27 Jul: As promised back in February we'll try to keep everyone abreast of how our swimmers are distributed among Doncaster's clubs throughout our squad structure at key points during the season. This being the end of season 2011 it's a perfect opportunity to update things.

Big news at the top of the table is Armthorpe's climb above Spa Askern and in to 2nd place. We'd like to see 4 or 5 of our stronger clubs have a steady 10 swimmers each in Phase 1-3, so the mighty Kingfishers still have a little way to go towards achieving that target but Coach Dave Holmes is doing a fine job of raising the numbers so it surely won't take long.

It's not just Armthorpe climbing above Spa though. Their local neighbours Minsthorpe Marlins are looking exceptionally strong climbing up to 3rd place. They already have double figures in JDS and last month also saw the first ever Marlin take the leap in to Phase 4. Judging by the quality swims by some of her club mates at Bradford this weekend it surely can't be long before more join her. With Blaine and Danielle regularly coaching at Dartes too Minsthorpe have really bought in to the Dartes ethos under the leadership of their Head Coach Ann Matthews.

Adwick of course are already in double figures for JDS and head the league table for all of our training phases. A huge thank you to Coach Neil Stephenson for his continued support of the Dartes programme and always good to have him pop down to keep an eye on things occasionally. With Coach John Smith another instrumental part of the Dartes coaching team for the past few years and Coach Keith Gilbert getting more and more involved again, Adwick are well represented on pool side too.

PosClubTotal (Feb)P5P4P1-3
1Adwick 23 (24)5711
2Armthorpe 16 (12)367
3Minsthorpe 12 (11)111
4Spa Askern 11 (16)452
5Edlington 9 (8)234
6South Axholme 8 (7)224
7Rossington 3 (6)21
8Dearne Valley 2 (0)2
9=Don Valley 1 (1)1
9=Thorne 1 (1)1
July 2011, Club Distribution

It won't take much for 3 more clubs to join Adwick and Minsthorpe in double figures on the JDS column before the next season starts in Septemeber. Just 3 young swimmers from Armthorpe will lift them up; while Edlington and South Axholme aren't far behind either needing to find just 6 each. Head Stingray Jeff Squires is now a regular on deck at Dartes having helped JDS Coach Kevin for a while. Along with another Edlington coach, Phil Hughes, Jeff is also getting involved with Phase 4 these days too. Newly crowned king of South Axholme, Head Shark Rob Crofts also looks set to start work with Phase 4 or JDS over the coming weeks. His natural enthusiasm for the sport and keen eye for new ideas will be another great asset to our combined Doncaster team.

So which of those three clubs will rise to the 10 JDS Swimmer challenge first?
We'll be taking bets shortly.

And with the ever popular Coach Sarah Green from Thorne Tigers and of course Coach/Timekeeper/Referee Derek Fretwell from Armthorpe that means 7 of our 10 feeder clubs have high profile coaches on our poolside. That's exactly how the town's training scheme should be run, and we're all very proud to have your support (and all those others who help out too). That's what Dartes is after all: The best effort of Doncaster's swimming community to provide the very best opportunities for our swimmers at the highest level of the sport.

So if you spot any young swimmers back at your club over August who look like they'd enjoy a little extra training, why not suggest to them that they pop down for a trial on a Sunday afternoon. While we're on the subject, if any more coaches from our clubs fancy stretching their wings and lending a hand to improve Doncaster's training scheme you're more than welcome. Why not get involved?

It's the 3rd 50m - Heard that Before?

26 Jul: When it comes to pacing 200m events, we often stress the importance of pushing hard down the 3rd 50m as though it's some kind of mantra. Well here, in association with Ryan Lochte, we're at it again.

In case you miss it at the start, here are the important lanes:
- lane 2: Phelps (top of screen)
- lane 3: Lochte
- lane 4: Agnel
- lane 5: Biedermann

Here's a few things to look out for. Firstly, how far Lochte is behind Phelps approaching the half way turn. Secondly, how important Lochte's underwater kick was in gaining the lead. Don't forget Phelps is pretty sensational at underwater fly kick! Finally, how far ahead Lochte is after the 3rd 50m.

Here it is, World Championships 2011, 200m Freestyle final. Thank you Euro Sport.

Gold Rush for Dartes at Bradford End of Season Meet

25 Jul: Representatives from all Dartes squads joined together to compete at the Bradford End of Season meet and collectively produced a fantastic Gold rush! With this being an A/B gala, there was double the amount of Gold on offer and Dartes certainly set about trying to win as many as possible! Dartes seemingly had a swimmer in every heat (except we were a bit short on boys - we'll twist your arms next year boys) and at one point we had had 5 of the 6 swimmers in one heat of the 200m Backstroke but anyway, Gold was definitely the colour this weekend.

The Golden Team at Bradford Gill Clarke (Arm), one of our youngest swimmers at just 9, won Gold in the 50m Breaststroke, 200m Freestyle, and the 50m and 200m Backstroke. A fantastic achievement and no doubt she'll be having a crack at the 100m events as soon as she is old enough. Another of our 9 year olds, Taylor Hardy (Adw), won gold in the 50m Breaststroke but unfortunately suffered DQs in a couple of her races. It happens to the best of them Taylor, try not to get too downhearted. Kara Mayos (Spa) won Gold in the 100m Backstroke and 50m Freestyle. The girls from Minsthorpe had a good gala. Eleanor Vodden (Min) put in some real gutsy swims to win the 200m IM, 200m Backstroke and 50m Butterfly. Lauren Heywood (Min) won the 100m Backstroke while Chloe Key (Min) won the 50m Breaststroke.

The Phase 4 swimmers came back with more medals than you can shake a stick at. 10 year old Laura Brookes (Edl) had a blinder of a weekend with Golds in the 100m and 200m Freestyle. It would have been a clean sweep for Laura but for Tyler Dodson (Adw) who won Gold in the 50m Freestyle. Tyler also took the Gold in the 200m Backstroke in a tightly fought race and also took back a number of speeding tickets. Consolidation for Laura in the Butterfly events where she managed the double winning both 50m and 100m events with shiny new PBs to add to her shiny medal collection. Another 10 year old cleaning up in the medal stakes was Amber Hardy (Adw) taking Gold in 50m Breaststroke, 100m Backstroke, 200m IM, and 200m Breaststroke.

Up an age group, the flying Fin, Finleigh Dukes (SAS), won gold in the 100m Butterfly, with the rapidly improving Lauren Jarvis (SAS) doing the same in the B grade. Katy Burton (Arm) was also a golden girl with a Gold in the 50m Backstroke while Lauren Heywood took more Gold with the 100m Backstroke title. For the 12 years olds we had the usual friendly tussle between Natasha Crow (SAS) and Chloe Hardy (Adw). Natasha came off better in the Freestyle, winning the 50m, 100m and 200m event as well as the 50m Butterfly. Chloe gave us her usual master class on backstroke with wins in the 100m and 200m events but even she couldn't hold off the 50m sprinting ability of Caitlin Feirn (Ros), who took the Gold in the 50m event. A cracking swim from Caitlin and a few surprised faces on the balcony at that result!

Well done Caitlin!

Another Gold in the 200m IM a good consolation for Chloe to make up for not quite getting the clean sweep in Backstroke. Lily Metcalfe (Spa) and Rebecca Heywood (Min) also competing for the 12s took Golds in the 50m Breaststroke, 50m Butterfly and 100m Breaststroke and the 100m Backstroke and the 200m Backstroke respectively.

The 13 year old girls rose to the challenge of keeping up with their younger team mates, with Holly Brookes (Edl) attacking every race. Well, not EVERY race. Unfortunately Holly had a fight with the lane rope during her 100m Breaststroke swim and her subsequent injury prevented her from swimming in the 200m Freestyle. Consider that the one that got away Holly. Still she came away with Golds in the 200m Breaststroke, 100m Butterfly, 200m Backstroke and the 50m Butterfly. Bethany Reddy (Arm) took Gold in the 100m Breaststroke. Kathryn Shepheard (Adw) also did the double with gold in the 50m Backstroke and the 200m Backstroke.

Our older girls had a productive weekend away too. There were multiple Golds for Jessica Gillatt (SAS) in the 100m Breaststroke, 200m IM, 200m Breaststroke and the 100m Butterfly, her Breaststroke in particular looked very impressive. Kelly Smith (Adw) came home with Gold in the 200m Freestyle and the 200m IM and Leanne Davis (Edl) also got a Gold in the 50m Breaststroke.

We did have a few boys that swam for us this weekend. A small group but successful none the less. While the other 4 age-groupers were competing at Nationals Alex Pollard (Arm) was one of our flag bearers at Bradford taking the Gold in the 200m Breaststroke, 200m IM and the 200m Backstroke. Oswald Hood (Adw) won the Gold in the 100m Breaststroke and George Scatchard (Spa) had another sensational set of swims with Gold in the 200m Breast, 200m IM, 200m Backstroke, 100m Backstroke and the 100m Breaststroke. Those of you following his end to the 2011 season won't need telling to keep an eye on him next season. Josh Reasbeck (Edl) also pulled out some cracking swims in the 200m Breaststroke and the 200m Freestyle, taking Gold in both. Josh also had a very unlucky DQ in the 100m Butterfly which cost him the Gold in that event.

It was also good to see some old but familiar faces back swimming for Dartes, even if it was only for this meet. Matthew Davies (Arm), member of our 2009 National Squad, came back from University in Liverpool and immediately made his mark with a Gold in the 50m Backstroke. Emma Humphreys (Ros) made an impressive return to racing after retiring after last season's National Championships, and won Golds in the 100m Freestyle, 100m Backstroke, 100m Breaststroke and the 50m Freestyle. It was good to see her back racing again and doing what she does best. A bid for Nationals again next year then Emma? Also donning his Dartes hat after a short absence was Ben Long (Arm) who was rewarded with Golds in the 50m Butterfly and the 200m Freestyle.

That of course wasn't everyone in attendance. Believe it or not, those mentioned are just the Gold medal winners! We didn't have enough room to mention all the Silver and Bronze medallists, let alone everyone else.

So a golden weekend to end the season for our swimmers. Here's to next season and even more success. Well done everyone and enjoy your short summer break.

Rotherham A/B

19 Jul: Last weekend, members from JDS, Phase 4 and Phase 5 represented their home club, Adwick, at the Rotherham Metro A/B gala.

JDS swimmer Robbie Casson (Adw), who has only just turned 9, was having a go at the big 200m events of 200m Freestyle and 200m Backstroke. Get them started early! Robbie put in a solid performance in both of these races, plus the 50m Breaststroke and 100m IM and is definitely one to watch out for in the future. Leesha Bentley (Adw) was also having a go at some longer distances with the 200m Backstroke and 100m Butterfly under her belt this weekend and she was rewarded with a number of top 10 placings. Fellow JDS stalwarts [Name Removed] (Adw) and Molly Butterworth (Adw) had a fantastic meet with Molly cleaning up the Gold in all 3 Breaststroke events and getting a huge PB on the 200m IM. Ryan won the 100m Butterfly and 200m Backstroke and came 3rd in the 200m IM. Unfortunately he came a cropper on the 100m Freestyle and attempted to drink the pool, never a good idea, and all that coughing and spluttering made his race come to a shuddering halt.

Next time eh Ryan?

Another of our younger swimmers, Taylor Hardy (Adw), had a go at the 100m IM and 50m Backstroke, putting in creditable performances in a tough age group.

Age grouper Harry Butterworth (Adw) was on fire all weekend. PBs in race after race including an absolutely storming 100m Freestyle saw him finish in the top 5 in all of his races. Oswald Hood (Adw) had a good weekend, winning the 200m IM and 100m Butterfly. Os also suffered an unusual DQ in his 100m Breaststroke, but there seemed to be a lot of that about this weekend. Amber Hardy (Adw) secured Gold in the 200m Butterfly at her first attempt at the distance in over a year, as did big sister Chloe who knocked over 16 seconds off her time to win the 12 years age group. Chloe had a clean sweep of Golds in all 3 of her events and Amber also went home with speeding tickets.

The last of our girls, Kathryn Shepheard (Adw) won a Bronze in the 200m Butterfly, and Silver in the 100m Backstroke after finally starting to use those underwater turns that she is so good at in training!


Final Spurt of Speed

16 Jul: Most of Phase 4 will get at least one more practice before next weekend's Bradford End of Season meet (or Nationals for those with the fancy shirts), but this morning was the last recorded speed set of the season (and the penultimate test set). Important then to lay down confident times, and to be consistent through the 6 reps of 15m sprints. Whereas previous attempts have seen 0.5s - 1.0s differences common place, this morning's effort showed improvement in concentration by keeping all 6 attempts much tighter.

The skill on display is speedy underwater Butterfly kick. Somewhere between 12m and 13m the target while learning the exact number of kicks required to get there. More than that and you're heading in to a dangerous zone where dodgy lane rope markers and overzealous judges might DQ you; shorter than that and you're wasting easy early speed.

It's worth noting that, as with all things, the more you practice doing underwater Fly kick at high speed, the better you get at it. How good you are when you start trying it NEVER dictates how fast you are capable of being after HARD WORK! Only your determination to attack every turn in training will decide how quickly these times (and your turn times) improve.

Consider this: an average 4,000m training session involves around 160 turns!
Multiply that by 7 sessions each week gives you 1,120 turns!
If you attack just half of those turns at full speed, race speed, think how much stronger your legs will become, and how much faster your underwater Fly kicking will become as a result.

Of course most of you won't bother, you'll take the easy option and choose to do the bare minimum - those swimmers will not develop fast starts or turns. The other 2 or 3 by contrast, those of you who do decide to take their swimming seriously, well you might just earn yourself a fancy shirt this time next year!

Jarvis 16 Jul 7.7 7.5 1
9 Jul 8.1 7.7 0
18 Jun 8.0 7.4 0
Georgia W 16 Jul 9.0 8.6 1
9 Jul 10.0 9.3 0
18 Jun 9.3 9.0 0
28 May 10.4 10.0 0
Robert 16 Jul 9.1 8.9 0
9 Jul 10.0 9.7 0
18 Jun 9.5 9.2 1
28 May 10.5 9.9 0
Georgia S 16 Jul 9.2 8.8 0
9 Jul 9.8 9.3 0
Mark 16 Jul 9.2 8.9 0
9 Jul 9.0 8.7 0
18 Jun 8.9 8.7 1
28 May 9.1 8.8 1
Katie P 16 Jul 9.3 9.2 1
9 Jul 10.0 9.4 0
Lauren 16 Jul 9.5 9.0 0
9 Jul 9.9 9.3 0
Laura 16 Jul 9.5 9.3 1
9 Jul 10.1 9.7 0
18 Jun 9.4 9.1 0
28 May 10.3 9.8 1
Josh 16 Jul 9.5 9.1 0
9 Jul 10.3 9.9 0
18 Jun 9.8 9.7 0
28 May 10.0 9.2 1
Beth 16 Jul 9.7 9.6 0
18 Jun 10.1 9.5 0
Joseph 16 Jul 9.9 9.7 0
18 Jun 10.2 9.7 0
28 May 10.8 10.3 0
Lily 16 Jul 9.9 9.7 1
9 Jul 10.1 9.5 1
18 Jun 9.6 9.3 0
28 May 10.0 9.6 *1
Caitlin 16 Jul 10.1 9.7 0
9 Jul 9.8 9.5 1
Rebecca J 16 Jul 10.2 9.9 0
Finleigh 16 Jul 10.3 9.8 0
9 Jul 10.4 10.2 0
18 Jun 10.5 10.2 0
28 May 11.6 10.9 0
Katy B 16 Jul 10.8 10.1 1
Grace 16 Jul 11.7 11.6 2
9 Jul 13.0 12.0 0
Chantelle 16 Jul 11.8 11.3 2
9 Jul 11.4 11.1 0

Scottish Nationals

12 Jul: From Thursday June 30th to Sunday 3rd July a merry band of Dartes' elite swimmers were north of the border in Glasgow competing in the Long Course Scottish Gas National Swimming Open Championships. These are not the National Age Group Championships, oh no... these are the real deal senior championships racing Olympians, Commonwealth medallists, National Record Holders and 2012 hopefuls from England, Scotland, Wales, Spain, Brazil, Venezuela and I'm sure a couple more countries that I've missed off!

The programme was like a Who's Who in swimming and yes we saw you girls peeping from behind the curtains to watch Rebecca Adlington and Hannah Miley battle it out in the 200m Freestyle final finishing in 1.59.34 and 2.00.82 respectively. Another solid performance from that Rebecca girl in 800m Freestyle with a time of 8.23.46. Equally impressive was Rafael Munoz taking the 100m Butterfly in 52.84! The Spanish team added a touch of glamour along with some impressive performances although maybe their style of revealing swimwear will struggle to catch on in training, who knows.

This is one of the few galas each year that allows athletes to really prepare for the end of season target meet, being over 4 days. You're all used to spending most of the weekend poolside, but just imagine a 4 day, 7am to 7pm meet and how mentally and physically taxing that must be if you're not prepared for it! That's one of the reasons Dartes took the trip to Scotland, to prepare for our end of season target, Summer Nationals.

Max Lichfield (Spa) and Caitlin Dixon (Arm) had the busiest schedule, swimming on all 4 days in many events. Max started well swimming 54.02 in 100m Freestyle securing him 30th place. He built on his good start making the finals in the remainder of his events. In 200m Breaststroke with a time of 2:30.72 he finished 9th in the 'B' Final. More finals followed for Max in 100m Backstroke where he finished 2nd in the 'B' final with a time of 1:00.14, 200m Medley he placed 7th in 2:08.96, 200m Backstroke he placed 8th in 2:09.91. Strong performances from Max across the weekend.

Day 1 saw Caitlin thrown in at the deep end (sorry about the pun) in the same event as the fastest woman in the world so far in 2011 in the 400m Individual Medley, Mireia Belmonte of Spain, and 2 of the top 10 fastest British women this year in the 100m Butterfly! Cait swam a 1:12.34 in the Butterfly and 5:26.96 in the 400IM, placing 60th and 38th respectively. On day 2 Caitlin showed her versatility by dropping down in distances to the 200m IM (2:34.05, 55th place) and 50m Freestyle (29.95, 66th place). The highlight day for Caitlin had to have been day 3 though. Just one swim and in one of her strongest events, the 400m free - and what a swim it was. Once she got into a rhythm she churned out 36 second split for each 50m like it was no problem, even having enough left in the tank for a 33 second last 50m. That means 35 second 50s or faster are in order in summer! Finishing with a time of 4:39.99 was good enough for 25th place and just shy of a place in the B final! Don't forget, having just turned 14, Caitlin was one of the youngest in a field of seasoned international athletes, a brilliant performance.

All that was left for Caitlin to do was round out her 4 day meet with a couple of sprints on the final day: the 100m Freestyle (1:03.28, 70th place) and 50m Butterfly (32.53, 64th place).

Heidi Smith (Arm) had a slightly less mixed bag of swims, but still showed that she is ready to compete on the senior national level. Her first swims were on day 2 of the championships, the 100m Breaststroke (1:24.85, 55th), 200m Backstroke (2:30.97, 40th her highest placing of the meet), and 50m Freestyle (29.44, 55th) - yes, that's 3 strokes, over 3 distances in one session. Very tough!

Day 2 was Heidi's only day without a 200m swim, so will have felt like a real splash and dash day. The 100m Backstroke was first up and Heidi swam an almost perfectly split race to come home in 1:11.26 for 56th place. This was followed up by probably the most technically difficult 50m event there is, 50m Breaststroke. If you rush your stroke, you go slow and lose. If you stretch out and take your time, you go slow and lose! There is a very fine middle ground in there somewhere that produces fast swimming, and I think Heidi is finding it! While 38.93 was just a tad slower than the PB she set in March, it was good enough for 57th place and cements her as the fastest Dartes sprint Breaststroker and one of the top 14 year olds in Yorkshire.

Heidi's final day was taken up by the 100m Freestyle (1:02.90, 61st) and 200m Breast (3:02.14, 52nd). Interestingly, her 100m Freestyle was very well split, but the halfway stage of the 100m Freestyle was only 0.8 of a second slower than her 50m sprint on day 2!! That's some great sprint endurance.

Shannon Dodson (Adw) was keen to build on her recent Backstroke success at the NERs competing in both the 100m and 200m events. A strong performance in 100m Backstroke with a time of 1:09.98 placed her 42nd, but the highlight of Shannon's competition was reaching the 'B' final for the 200m finishing 18th overall with a time of 2:27.25. Again, lets not forget that Shannon too, just like Caitlin and Heidi, has only just turned 14 swimming in a pool of senior internationals.

Solid performances too in 200 Medley placing 42nd with a time of 2.32.53 and 50 Fly placing 33rd in 30.78. Next up for Shannon Nationals in her favourite 100m and 200m back!

Jamie Clarke (Arm) also qualified for a final. He started out on day 2 of the championships, just like Heidi and Shannon. He swam the 100m Backstroke (1:04.23, 37th) and 200m Butterfly (2:24.88) but his star performance would come the day after that in the 200m Backstroke. This was his only swim of the day and Jamie didn't let it go to waste blasting out a 2:17.51, this may be almost a full second slower than his PB which he set last month, but to do it on a big stage on day 3 of a meet is great news! Initially this placed Jamie 23rd overall, but a few swimmers withdrew and Jamie was into the B final! To top that off, Jamie improved his time in the final and picked up 8th place (18th overall). That just left a 50m Backstroke sprint (30.51, 31st) on the final day to round off a successful meet.

Elliot Trofimowicz (Spa) produced a series of solid performances across 3 days. He swam 400m Freestyle in 4:25.33 finishing 38th overall, his highest ranking finish of the meet. He followed this up with solid performances in 200m Medley (2:26.89, 60th), 50m Freestyle (26.46, 64th), 200m Freestyle (2:04.02, 64th) and 50m back (32.25, 55th).

Richard Lee (Spa) also provided strong finishes across his events in particular 100m Butterfly finishing 27th with a time of 1:00.82. Strong performances also in 200m Medley (2:19.91), 100m Breaststroke (1:12.85, 31st) and 50m Free (25.36, 31st).

A huge congratulations to all swimmers involved and a note to those who would love to swim at this level, train very, very hard and with a keen eye for the little detail your coaches keep asking for!

SpeedCharts and 15m Speed

10 Jul: A few years ago British Swimming published 'SpeedCharts' to help coaches (and their swimmers) understand how split times contribute to the end result of a 100m swim. Those SpeedCharts don't just say: hit x.xx at 50m for y:yy.yy at 100m, they actually break things down in 5m race segments starting at 15m. A very useful tool when analysing 15m start speed like Phase 4 did again on Saturday morning.

So what exactly does that mean for our early morning sprinters in this week's test set.

Jarvis: still leading the way Rebecca: straight in and meaning business Looking down the list you'll notice a wide margin between the average time and the fastest times achieved. In some cases the difference is half a second. It might not sound like much, but consider that 7.7s equates to a 100m Freestyle swim of 1:01 whereas 8.1s finishes at 1:04 and you can quickly see the importance of being consistent. How often do swimmers leave the race pool disappointed with their times with little or no idea of where things went wrong? Start to analyse your races and you will start to understand where 0.10 has been added here there and everywhere. See if you can make an accurate estimate of your swim time when you race in future and identify areas that need improving, rather than simply being upset over some arbitrary time.

Phase 4 will be repeating the exercise next Saturday. Ample warning to get focused on perfecting underwater work and get fast before next time.

Jarvis 9 Jul 8.1 7.7 0
18 Jun 8.0 7.4 0
Mark 9 Jul 9.0 8.7 0
18 Jun 8.9 8.7 1
28 May 9.1 8.8 1
Leanne 9 Jul 9.2 9.1 0
18 Jun 8.7 8.3 0
28 May 10.1 9.5 0
Rebecca H 9 Jul 9.6 9.4 1
Georgia S 9 Jul 9.8 9.3 0
Caitlin 9 Jul 9.8 9.5 1
Lauren 9 Jul 9.9 9.3 0
Georgia W 9 Jul 10.0 9.3 0
18 Jun 9.3 9.0 0
28 May 10.4 10.0 0
Katie 9 Jul 10.0 9.4 0
Robert 9 Jul 10.0 9.7 0
18 Jun 9.5 9.2 1
28 May 10.5 9.9 0
Lily 9 Jul 10.1 9.5 1
18 Jun 9.6 9.3 0
28 May 10.0 9.6 *1
Kathryn 9 Jul 10.1 9.7 0
Laura 9 Jul 10.1 9.7 0
18 Jun 9.4 9.1 0
28 May 10.3 9.8 1
Amber 9 Jul 10.1 9.7 1
18 Jun 10.4 10.1 0
28 May 11.2 10.3 1
Josh 9 Jul 10.3 9.9 0
18 Jun 9.8 9.7 0
28 May 10.0 9.2 1
Tyler 9 Jul 10.4 10.1 0
Finleigh 9 Jul 10.4 10.2 0
18 Jun 10.5 10.2 0
28 May 11.6 10.9 0
Harry 9 Jul 10.8 10.6 0
Oswald 9 Jul 11.0 10.5 0
Chantelle 9 Jul 11.4 11.1 0
Grace 9 Jul 13.0 12.0 0

And for those who wondered how their 15m performances compare with their 100m Freestyle swim times, here you go:

15m100m LC

Which suggests there are many letting concentration dip through the 6 reps, or who need to work their underwater kick much more aggressively in regular training. Everyone needs to be consistently under 10sec for this set. The 8sec set by Jarvis Parkinson (Arm) should be achievable by all of you with a little more attention to detail.

Sizzling Sunday with Barnsley

8 Jul: On Sunday 3rd July a few of the Dartes gang popped down to Ponds Forge to check out the Borough of Barnsley Summer sizzler. We did not come away disappointed and a host of medals were won. With the Dartes coaching staff committed at Jorvik, Hull and Scottish Nationals, most of the gang entered with their feeder clubs but a few entered under the 'Doncaster Dartes' brand too.

There's nothing like a nice Long Course meet to get the blood pumping on a Sunday morning. Nobody seems phased by the huge pool, our newer Dartes swimmers just take it in their stride.

A medal in every race for [Name Removed] (Adw) Gold in 100m Butterfly, Gold in 200m IM, Silver in 100m Backstroke, Bronze in 100m Freestyle and 5th in 100m Breaststroke. Katy Burton (Arm) also kept the 11 year girls on their toes with two Bronze a 4th and two 5ths. Those up and coming Marlins were busy too, with Eleanor Vodden (Min) from the same age group as Katie gaining Gold in 50m Breaststroke, Silver in both 50m Freestyle and Butterfly, and 5th in both 100m Breaststroke and Freestyle.

Georgia Wright (Arm) was at the top of her game on Sunday winning Gold, Silver, Bronze, medals in addition to a 4th and 5th. The Gold was for 50m Freestyle and the other placings from 100m events. Little sister Rebecca Wright (Arm), who is catching up fast, got a 5th in 50m Freestyle and a winter Yorkshire qualifying time for the 100m version.

Other Armthorpe swimmers were not disappointed either. Alex Pollard (Arm) smashed up the 200m IM and finished with Silver, while his 100m Freestyle earning him a Silver; pretty good considering he felt quite poorly on the day! Gill Clarke (Arm) swam a few races for times only but also gained a speeding ticket in 50m Backstroke and 200m IM, and a Bronze for 50m Butterfly.

Back with those Marlins, and Chloe Key (Min) swam a mean 100m Butterfly and finished in 4th place.

Other Dartes stars included Josh Reasbeck (Edl) with two Golds (50m Freestyle and Butterfly) and a 5th in the 200m IM. Lucy Clarke (Ros) gained two Bronze medals too in 100m Freestyle and 200IM, along with a 4th in 100m Backstroke.

Kingston Upon Hull End of Season Meet

7 Jul: A weekend out at the East coast was planned for the Kingston upon Hull Short Course End of Season Meet. Being the first weekend in July it was a little early for us to treat as a real, bonafide end to the season, so instead Phase 4 took it as their warm up to the big event coming in a couple of weeks: Bradford or National Championships.

The weather greeting us in Hull was scorching hot and the swimming wasn't bad either!

Day one, first up were the boys in the 100m Backstroke, competing were Oswald Hood (Adw), Joe Gatus, Robert Kirk (Spa) and Mark Beech and all were in good form, with Mark taking the Gold medal.

A 50m victory over 200m Freestyle! Bronze in 50m Fly for Robert The girls followed in the 100m Breaststroke, personal bests all round.

The outstanding swim of the day goes to one of Phase 4's latest recruits Lauren Jarvis (SAS) who finished her heat in the 200m Freestyle two lengths in front achieving a 43 second personal best and a Gold medal. Yes, that did say two lengths, 50m, not just two body lengths! This win contributed to her leading the 11 years top girl competition for most of the weekend, eventually finishing as runner-up.

Making one of her first Phase 4 appearances, and a rare outing in 200m events was Caitlin Feirn (Ros). An impressive performance saw her touch in 2:50.32 but fellow Rascal Katie Pendlebury (Ros) excelled even further with a time of 2:43.77.

Good solid performances were also seen by Leanne Davis (Edl) and Beth Reddy (Arm).

Day two swim of the day goes to George Scatchard (Spa) in the 200m Backstroke. He finished well in front on the fastest heat against boys 3 years older. His win looked easy but knocking roughly 10sec off his previous short course best dipped him beneath the Long Course NQT for the first time. We strongly recommend NOT comparing Short Course and Long Course times, even when converted, but on this occasion it aptly demonstrates the rapid progress George has made this year.

Even more evidence of progress came courtesy of the 13 year olds Top Boy list: George the dominant victor by 13 points!

Joe also sprints on the track! A mention has to be made about Joseph Gatus (Spa). Multiple Yorkshire medallist in the 50m sprints earlier in the season and a multiple Gold medallist in more 50m sprints at last year's Winter contest, Joe has always shied away from the longer distances. But this is Dartes, and those longer events are our bread and butter, so we couldn't let him dodge them any longer!

This weekend he dived straight in (or rather jumped straight in) at the deep end for the 100m Backstroke and a Silver medal (Mark wasn't about to let him have the Gold). He returned a few minutes later to dive in for the 200m Individual Medley to claim Bronze. Not a bad start to his new habit of swimming the longer distances! Then in the afternoon a strong swim earned him 4th place on the 100m Butterfly with enough style and strength to hint at an upcoming attempt at entering the Animal Squad early next season. Here's hoping.

That success led him to Top Boy status in the 11 year old category against stiff competition. Pushing him all the way was Mark Beech (Spa) claiming second place and Oswald, third for most of the weekend, who slipped to fourth in the final Backstroke events. Following Joe's exploits in Hull, he travelled to Birmingham for a national schools athletics final where he picked up a few more Bronze medals, you guessed it, in the sprints!

Strong Fly Swimming by Lily Back to the girls, well fought races were seen when Lily Metcalfe (Spa), Laura Brookes (Edl) and Finleigh Dukes (SAS) battled alongside each other in the heats of the Butterfly and Breaststroke, all achieving great times and beating their Personal Bests. Lily's confident swim knocked 9 seconds from her 100m Butterfly time, boosted no doubt by an impressive 200m swim that morning and the immortal words: "That was actually quite easy, I wish I could do it again now and swim faster!" It takes a few attempts to build the confidence needed to really attack the 200, but just ahead of Lily, Katie had a good crack on her first attempt to finish 5th as the highest placed 12 year old and secured herself a spot in the 2011 Animal Squad!

In the last girls race of the weekend, there was sisterly rivalry between Laura and Holly Brookes (Edl) in the 50m Freestyle. Laura was desperate to beat big sister Holly, both cheered on by all of Dartes and our suitably noisy supporters in the stands. Laura put in a mammoth effort but Holly won out, finishing a mere 0.10 of a second in front.

To finish the day off on a high note Robert achieved a Bronze medal in the 50m Fly, the last boys race of the day.

Happy and tired after a very successful meet, Doncaster Dartes returned home, with medals of all colours, a great achievement.