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News November 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

Introducing the Troffettes

26 Nov: For the past few years we've enjoyed an entertaining awards evening compèred by the enigmatic head of both our marketing team and a certain other Doncaster based enterprise: the one and only, Andrew Trofimowicz. The name itself strikes fear in to the heart of announcers at open meets all over the country whenever his son Elliot appears on the start sheet (although in Poland they might just manage it first time - maybe we should try a Polish meet one day). Here at Dartes, a small group have learnt over the years not to even bother trying, and just to call them The Troff family!

Last weekend, a little later than usual, we brought the 2011 season to a tardy but stylish end with Mr T naming the Troffettes, and the coaches presenting various awards to worthy athletes. We managed to twist a few arms and get our hands on the Troffette speech and thought you'd all like to re-live the evening, and for those of you to shy to attend, experience the Troff humour for yourselves.

So here it is ...

The Loud and Proud having fun in the stands Tonight as usual we are going to celebrate our top swimmers in our annual presentation night but just like last year I would like the swimmers to wait just a few moments while I once again recognise the backroom team: The parents, grand parents, families, and friends without whom our swimmers would still be left on the starting blocks.

YOU are the unsung heroes of our swimming offspring
YOU are Taxi Drivers and Kit Suppliers
YOU never get a full week of sleep
YOU are experts in the world of swimming clubs and pools around the country
YOU even go and collect them from Leeds airport at 4am "Thanks Jet 2"

And why?
Because YOU are the Loud and very Proud DARTES supporters.

Last year I gave out some Oscars for support above and beyond the call of duty, but it seemed to be for the men of the club! This year ladies, I am going to redress the balance. I want to recognise and award some very special women in the club.

These are all Women Of DARTES without whom the club would be far less successful
They are going to win one of a limited edition and an extremely rare: TROFFY TROPHY!

For outstanding service to swimming well beyond the call of duty, these women will become known forever in DARTES history as the TROFFETTES!

Troffette Number 1, 2, and 3

So this first Award encompasses the very spirit of what a true TROFFETTE is. DARTES is a small club and we always need money. In the past few years, and perhaps more especially this year, these TROFFETTES have helped raise lots of cash.

Helen at her Loud and Proud best Yes this first award has more than one winner in fact there are three winners. These ladies have done:

Swimmers get ready to WHOOP and CHEER, and dads and parents do likewise.

So for DONCASTER DARTES' very own THREE DEGREES of fund raising, the 3 TROFFETTES are:

Andrew's fund raisers of the year win a highly prized and very expensive "TROFFY TROPHY". In recognition of their efforts towards fund raising: a personalised piggy bank with the starter of funds for 2012.

Troffette Number 4

Pep talk for Julia Award two is for someone without whom our tremendous fund raising galas would not be possible. The FOURTH TROFFY TROPHY is for a true SWIMMING GALA MISSTRESS. She makes the important stuff happen and deserves to be known forever as a TROFFETTE.

Again just a few clues...

You only approach her on gala day if you are prepared.
She may be cheery she may not.
Before a gala she makes sure that we have enough proper people to run it. Raffle ticket sellers, door persons, and trophy monitors are not her thing. Time keepers and judges and things I don't understand are what she does best. She has the joy of listening to JIM and still controls the races to ensure we do things right every time for every swimmer in every race. No easy feat when there can be 1500 swims in a DARTES meet!

She will one day have to honour the bet she made with me and ...
... swim a length of St James 33 yard pool fully clothed !!
... Swimming Butterfly
Everyone I want you to put your hands together, whoop and cheer, for:

and now TROFFETTE number four!

Troffette Number 5

Hard at work in the Sardinian sun - it's a hard life My fifth TROFFETTE award of the evening is long overdue.

This person almost has a squad of DARTES swimmers of her own, yet still finds time to do lots of work for the club, day in, day out; night in, night out; week in, week out.

Without her we would have no female coach on pool side helping the swimmers in the coaching sessions or at galas helping Pete and the coaches organise the swimmers. Without her the SAS land training she makes the swimmers do would not be the same. Without her one of the swimming camps would not have had a female chaperone.

I give you TROFFY TROPHY number 5 for unsung hero 2011 the one, the only

Troffette Number 6

My sixth and final TROFFY TROPHY is to a person I don't think has ever had an award.


This award is for a very, very, special TROFFETTE indeed.

This person even though they no longer have a full time swimmer at DARTES has given up hours of time and not a little blood, sweat, and tears too. This person, although now retired from DARTES VOLUNTEERS, used to give up more time in a week than many give up in a month. She did it because she always believed in DARTES and everything we, as a club, stand for.

Troff's Ladies - Amanda and Helen DARTES may not be very big compared to Sheffield, York, Wakefield, Leeds but we punch well above our weight. Without this person's untiring work behind the scenes DARTES would not be the club it currently is. This person rarely got the recognition she deserved, so it gives me great pleasure to embarrass her tonight.

She has helped Chairman Chris Hirst in the smooth running of this club for more years than it is safe for me to mention. She has organised swimming camps and set the standard for others to follow. She has been a chaperone even when there was no swimmer of her own there. She has ensured the welfare of the female swimmers was of the highest order at all times and without fail. She is married to another amazing and loyal DARTES supporter who won an award last year for fundraising and support above and beyond the call of duty.

I want all the swimmers and all the parents in fact EVERYONE IN DA HOUSE TONIGHT to make as much noise as possible now please for my final TROFFY TROPHY, TROFFETTE of the year ...

The one
The only

Bonus Round: Troffette Number 7

Before I hand over to the coaches to give out the proper awards for the night I have a unique, very special, exceedingly expensive final TROFFY TROPHY for some one who has done more to raise the profile of DARTES than anyone here tonight.

I know a little about advertising and such like and am lucky that I have a budget to help me do my job. This person has no such budget and can often teach me a thing or two about promoting all the good work we do at DARTES. Now in TRUE Troffy tradition a few clues to the identity of the final TROFFETTE.

This TROFFETTE is unable to drive when it has been raining a little.

This TROFFETTE was just moments away from having his front door broken down by 10 BURLEY BOBBIES from the drugs squad who had the wrong address (no honestly, they had the wrong address). They were welcomed in with tea and biscuits??!!

This TROFFETTE can be louder than all our Air Horns, Cowbells, Banger Sticks, and Vuvuzelas put together - just ask his squad.

This TROFFETTE now has a shiny new soft top just in time for the arctic winter of snow we are all promised and with a posh personal number plate too.

This final unsung hero of the year award is for someone who works tirelessly and produces the best swimming web site bar none. Again I know a little about web sites and my team at DFS think the DARTES one is brilliant!
but more especially as:
It is the work of ONE PERSON
Doing it in HIS SPARE TIME

So for my final TROFFETTE of the year, someone who needs no introduction
The one
The only
The incomparable

On With the Show

There are of course many more parents doing invaluable work for the club, a few were recognised last year, a few more will be next year. Keep up the hard work, all of it is appreciated. But the real reason for the presentation evening was the swimmers. Three awards for each squad: Performance of the year, one to watch, and most improved. After those, the overall Swimmer of the Year to win the resurrected shiny plate from years gone by.

The Best Performance by a swimmer from JDS is no longer in JDS. Don't forget, these awards are from the whole of last season and many have recently moved up squads. After missing out on a Gold medal the previous weekend of Yorkshires in the 200m Butterfly due to a DQ, and following up with another DQ for 200m Backstroke and missing out on a bronze medal, back she came a week later and pulled out a 15 second PB in the 200m Medley to finally claim a Gold medal.

Best performance for 2011 then, to Chantelle Waugh (Arm).

Next up, the award for Most Improved swimmer of the year goes to a girl making huge improvements last season for both her competition and training performances. At the start of the year she only managed to qualify for 2 of the 50m Sprints at Yorkshires. Since then she's knuckled down to the hard work, knocked big chunks off her times, earned a promotion to Phase 4 and also picked up 5 NER times along the way.

Most improved for 2011: Lucy Clarke (Ros)

At the age that JDS deals with, every swimmer with a good work ethic and attention to detail is One To Watch. Some however, stand out above the rest. She may be a JDS veteran, she's been in the squad for as long as anyone cares to remember, but this year's winner is still only 8! Coach Kevin has this to say, good advice for swimmers of any age: "What i like is that despite her young age she listens and takes on board everything you tell her. It's one thing to listen, but another to actually act on what you've been told. She always makes the effort to act on anything you say to her."

Her strong competitive side helps to mark out Casey Waugh (Arm) as the One to Watch for 2011.

And so on to Phase 4.

That moment all coaches dread. Donna starts interrogating us all for award winners. Of course, any organised coach would instantly reply with the Performance of the Year - wouldn't they?

Well on this occasion it was a fight between Coach Dave and Coach Andrew as to who claimed the stand out swim of the season. Nationals: nightmares for the nervous as many crack under the pressure and expectation. That's the first obstacle to overcome. Next obstacle is the need to swim big PBs just to reach finals - no matter where you're ranked on the start sheet!

For this 200m of Butterfly, the expected time for finals would need a 100m PB at half way (there or there abouts).
"But what if I die on the 3rd 50m?" came the worried response.
"Who cares?" reassured the caring coach, "If you don't go out that fast you won't be in the final anyway"
The light bulb switched on and off he went down to marshalling with a wry grin.

He hit his 100m PB (give or take), died on the 3rd 50m, but stormed home to secure his place in the final with a 4sec PB. Job done! But he's not winning the award for just that swim, it's a two-parter.

He returned in the evening for the final, only to have the other caring coach collar him with:
"Right, good swim this morning, but look at the splits, what can you improve?"
"I died on the 3rd 50m, I need to push that harder!"
And so off he went again. Same time for the first 100m (actually something like 0.04 slower, but who's counting) and then his second fastest 50m of the race where earlier he'd died! Of course the last length was a little ugly, but last lengths of a 200m Fly usually are, he'd done the job early though, and managed another second off his new PB.

Performance of the year then, to Jarvis Parkinson (Arm): The Boy who Listened.

Now occasionally, here at website HQ, we hear the odd moan about how it's always the same people getting a mention on the site and we appreciate that sometimes it may look that way (feel free to write a story of your own to redress the balance). The previous award winner for example, has been writing headlines since he started competing at 9. For many of our swimmers however, and this year's big prize winner will be a prime example, they have to wait a while before they capture the limelight. The winner of Phase 4 Most Improved for 2011 is another boy in that same ilk.

As encouragement for all those wondering when their name will first appear, this boy's first mention came in March of last year when he began his assault on the squad test sets. Since then his competition performances have improved, and improved, from barely qualifying for Yorkshire Championships, to being just 0.10sec away from qualifying for Nationals at NER Champs late last season.

Typical of many a great swimmer, without making a lot of noise, he just quietly gets on with the hard work of training and perfecting those all important skills. So much so, that when the time came for picking candidates for this award, George Scatchard (Spa) was the only name on the list.

The One to Watch award is always a tricky one. The obvious choice at 10 or 11 is often no where near at 15 or 16. Is someone beating the competition simply because they've grown quickest, because they've packed more training in to their early years, or because they connected really well with their first swimming teacher?

It's always hard to tell who has the staying power to keep going when the training load kicks in beyond the point of mere enjoyment, and towards being an obsession. Because it's so difficult to pick, this year Coach Dave took a different interpretation of the award. Yeah, you all thought the One to Watch was being picked for future swimming stardom; not this year.

For 2011 your Phase 4 One to Watch has been selected purely on entertainment value. His swimming isn't shoddy either, but whenever he's around there's always something a little extra in the pool. So next time you're watching a training session, keep an eye on Oswald Hood (Adw). Who knows, he may even turn in to a decent swimmer too.

So finally, here are the award winners for Phase 5. Coach Wallace's notes were lost, so we've used artistic licence.

The Most Improved swimmer in Phase 5 has come a long way since entering JDS a few years ago. Rapidly jumping in to Phase 4, then storming through the lanes to claim a spot in Phase 5 last season. Her climb up the rankings now sees her within shooting distance of going for a National time this season. Gangly arms and legs are now perfectly (almost) under control showing off style and poise (again, almost), and just wait until she masters the art of pacing!

Phase 5's Most Improved for 2011: Natasha Crow (SAS)

Quite a prediction by Coach Wallace about the One to Watch. He's only been in Phase 5 for a couple of months, but already Alex Pollard (Arm) has huge responsibility thrust on to his shoulders. His performances in the Arena League so far this season suggest he may well be on to something though, and the master coach rarely gets things wrong. You'll all just have to wait and see what happens.

A surprise winner of the Performance of the Year. Surprising not because he won it; surprising because the not-so-smart money would have been on him winning the next award instead! Another performance at Nationals earns Max Litchfield (Spa) this one. Oh so close to winning Gold in the 100m Backstroke with that holy grail of performance progression: PB in heats; PB again in Semi-Finals; PB a third time for the final. Just 0.02sec separated him from Gold and the title: National Champion.

We mentioned earlier that the winner of the big award for 2011 was someone who took a long time before hitting the spotlight. He's just had a fabulous season winning medals in both major championships (Yorkshire and NER) for the first time and qualifying for Nationals for the first time at 14. He's become one of the Phase 5 standard bearers in training, pushing the limits and dragging everyone along with him. Some of his training performances on camp in Tenerife were even getting close to matching last year's winner of this award. So much so, that for 2011 Jamie Clarke (Arm) pushes Mighty Max off the shiny silver plate, and has his name engraved alongside all the big names from the 80's and 90's. Watch out for Jamie this season, big things are afoot!

Painful Legs on 4x400m Kick

22 Nov: It took a while to put these up, but finally we're there. November's 4x400 kick set for Phase 4 produced some fast times with the top 4 all under 8mins averaged. 7:30 should be considered the target for the top group though, with 8:00 the pace everyone else needs to aim for consistently.

Robert just squeezed home first overall Kathryn: Leading the way at the front of the lane With a lot easing off for the middle two reps the average time quickly rises. Next time treat this set like we encourage you to pace 200m swims: 4 even splits, but make sure you're pushing the 3rd one hard so you don't mentally back off!

Due to the change of venue to St James, the distance isn't actually 400m like it was last season, it's really 420m. But don't let that stop you beating last season's times!

Pos Name Date Rep 1 Rep 2 Rep 3 Rep 4 Avg
1 Robert Kirk 22 Nov 2011 8:08 7:34 7:38 7:38 7:44
2 Georgia Stead 22 Nov 2011 7:46 7:57 7:46 7:35 7:46
3 Kathryn Shepheard 22 Nov 2011 7:37 7:43 7:48 8:04 7:48
4 Joshua Reasbeck 22 Nov 2011 8:02 7:51 7:57 8:02 7:58
5 Thananya Kaewsanthia 22 Nov 2011 8:00 8:01 8:04 8:14 8:04
6 Lily Metcalfe 22 Nov 2011 8:09 7:58 7:58 8:18 8:05
7 Rebecca Heywood 22 Nov 2011 8:10 7:59 8:13 8:19 8:10
8 Laura Brookes 22 Nov 2011 7:59 8:06 9:03 8:21 8:22
9 Caitlin Feirn 22 Nov 2011 8:59 7:58 8:26 8:21 8:26
10 Lucy Clarke 22 Nov 2011 8:01 8:34 8:45 8:25 8:26
11 Katie Pendlebury 22 Nov 2011 8:04 8:56 8:29 8:24 8:28
12 Courtney Massey 22 Nov 2011 8:45 9:05 8:37 8:16 8:40
13 Leanne Davies 22 Nov 2011 7:44 10:08 8:39 8:36 8:46
14 Chloe Key 22 Nov 2011 8:54 9:10 8:55 8:13 8:48
15 Grace Litchfield 22 Nov 2011 9:00 9:10 9:10 8:33 8:58
16 Katy Burton 22 Nov 2011 9:14 9:34 8:46 8:46 9:05
17 Lauren Heywood 22 Nov 2011 9:11 9:47 9:51 9:27 9:34
18 Harry Butterworth 22 Nov 2011 8:52 9:52 11:22 9:09 9:48
19 Mathew Jubb 22 Nov 2011 9:17 9:27 10:40 10:00 9:51
20 Joseph Gatus 22 Nov 2011 10:30 10:00 9:27 10:00 9:59
21 Eleanor Vodden 22 Nov 2011 10:00 10:15 10:12 10:45 10:18
22 Oswald Hood 22 Nov 2011 9:08 9:36 9:14

Scorching Fast Swimming at Arena

12 Nov: It's been a very busy week in the World of Swimming with the World Cup series in the orient and the Minneapolis Grand Prix in the States, but here in the UK, this weekend witnessed an all together noisier affair: round 2 of the National Arena Swimming League - swimming's colourul answer to the Premiership.

The league consists of two regional qualifying rounds; a regional final; and then the best two teams from each region get together in Sheffield for the National A and B finals. Each round is a hotly contested showdown, the best swimmers in the country rarely get to compete on a team versus team point scoring basis, we usually just race mano a mano, so to don club colours for a couple of hours and race for the team makes a welcome change. The buzz amongst GB's national teamers on twitter throughout Saturday showed off the excitement, with many returning from University training bases to represent home town clubs and catch up with old friends. While many others who no longer feel any affiliation with home town clubs get snatched up by friends to strengthen their teams in an attempt to reach the prestigious National Final!

For Doncaster Dartes it was the North East League and a chance to go up against the mighty City of Leeds (victors in the National League more times than anyone cares to remember, far more than anyone else); perennial challengers City of Sheffield with an open team packed full of Team GB super stars including Beijing Olympians and London hopefuls; and our other Yorkshire adversaries Borough of Kirklees and Harrogate and District. Further North, the likes of City of Sunderland are biting at the bit to travel to Leeds for the regional final to show their worth.

After the opening encounter at Ponds Forge last month, round 2 took place in Harrogate's wonderful Hydro, an 8 lane competition pool that we managed to make feel like home with 3 big Dartes banners hung around the poolside. Maybe worth a note for whoever plans sports facilities in Doncaster: there isn't a pool suitable for hosting meets at this level anywhere in the borough. The evening got off to a cracking start in the opening 200m IM. Our British Junior record holder Max Litchfield (Spa), in what would become a familiar tussle between him and the senior boys from Sheffield, was trading first place throughout the 8 length race. On Butterfly the Sheffield boy touched first, on Backstroke and Breaststroke Max retaliated, the 50m of Freestyle was impossible to separate until they hit the timing pads: just 0.34sec separated Max from 1st place - a South Yorkshire 1-2 never the less with the Leeds challenger a good 2sec further back for 3rd.

The big difference of course between Dartes and our big city rivals is the slight mis-match between open teams. Without a presigious university our Mens and Womens teams consist of retired swimmers such as former National Finalist David Holmes (Arm), who could be found plying his trade in the American College system 5 years ago, and 2006 National Bronze medalist Katie Johnson (Spa) who's plight is best described by Head Coach Andy Wallace: "How on Earth is she keeping up with those girls, she's only trained twice in the past 4 weeks?" work committments of course preventing her from completing anything like the weekly 20 hours training endured by her competition. Other than those two and the welcome return of former Dartes stars Sophie Coy (Adw) and Stephanie Hynes (Adw) the backbone of the team is really compiled from up and coming age-groupers who are edging ever closer to the senior ranks and wiping clean the Dartes record book along the way.

That point was ably demonstrated by the 15 year olds contesting the 100m Backstroke. Shannon Dodson (Adw) already qualified for next summer's National Championships took maximum points for the girls, quickly followed by George Scatchard (Spa) to do likewise for the boys. Before those two, and an age group younger, Jarvis Parkinson (Arm) showed off why he too has an early qualifying time for Nationals in Breaststroke by touching 2nd. His training partner and local rival Joe Litchfield (Spa) on the other hand, was determined not to settle for second best. Maximum points in the 100m Backstroke set him up for a Butterfly show down with their arch-nemesis Blake Bennett of Sheffield (formerly of Leeds). These 3 boys are well used to sharing the honours between them at Yorkshire and North Eastern Championships, and with a body length lead at the half way stage of the 100m Butterfly, Blake must have thought maximum points were in the bag for his new team. Joe however, had other ideas. Turning on the speed down the third 25m, he managed to catch Blake down the last length and somehow got his hands on the wall first, by a teeny weeny 0.02sec! Another 7 points to Dartes. Jarvis tried to do the same to Blake in the 100m Freestyle, another strong surge down the final 25m, but this time the tiny margin went the other way, another 6 points for Jar though.

Throughout the evening, the top two spots were being contested by the city teams as you'd expect. Sheffield pulled away - Leeds pulled them back; Sheffield pulled clear again - only for Leeds to drag their way back up to them. Behind them, Dartes merrily went on its way consolidating 3rd place. Picking up wins where we could, and piling in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finishes. We get stronger every year; whereas in 2010 we had a close challenge from both Harrogate and City of Leeds B, this year we've been a strong 3rd in both rounds so far. With the top two battling hard for a very close win, we're chipping away getting a little closer each time. With another win just before the final round of team events, this one to Joseph Gatus (Spa) for a dominant 50m Freestyle, we eventually got round to the 6x50m open age relays.

The girls team ended with Caitlin Dixon (Arm) going head to head with City of Leeds' Anne Bochmann (you'll remember her challenging Becky Adlington in last summer's Commonwealth Games 400m Freestyle). Young Caitlin did well to hang on, she didn't get beat by much, but enough for 2nd place to slip away with Leeds' former European Junior Champion. 3rd place by our girls earned the team 5 more valuable points.

The evening was wrapped up by our boys up against their men. With only Dave Holmes over the age of 16, and 13 year old Jarvis in the mix too, we weren't expecting to be higher than 3rd. But with three boys swimming 24 point, and Richard Lee (Spa) squeezing in a scorching 23.85, our young guns weren't too far off the pace of the leaders. Jamie Clarke (Arm) brought the team home with a 25.69 split for another 3rd place finish to secure 3rd place overall for round 2.

Scorching Fast Swimming at Arena

12 Nov: The National Arena Swimming League has a tradition of bringing the best out of swimmers and today's round 2 proved no different. Whether inspired by the earlier efforts of Dale Marshbank (Arm) tweeting Adam Brown (he of Team GB, Norwich, and former Auburn Tigers fame) just to let him know he'd be swimming; or the swish new Go-Faster tattoos (we suspect there might be other teams sporting them in the final); who knows, but fast times there certainly were throughout the team.

Battling it out for honours at the front were City of Leeds and City of Sheffield. Last time out Leeds got the upper hand by just 3 points, this evening Sheffield got their own back by just 5 points! The regional final of course has much more at stake, so expect fireworks at Leeds next month.

Pos Team Points
1 City of Sheffield A 296
2 City of Leeds A 291
3 Donc Dartes 219
4 Harrogate & District 180
5 City of Leeds B 148
6 City of Sheffield B 146
7 Bo Kirklees 120

As for us, the final round of the North East league (South) leaves us sitting pretty in 3rd place. That should see us comfortably in to the regional final in probably 3rd or 4th spot after the results from North East league (North) are merged in too. The final is likely to see us pitched against Sunderland too. Can we manage to overcome that challenge to defend our 3rd place finish from last season?

World Wide Swimming Tweets

9 Nov: Many of you have been enjoying the "Team GB Tweets" down the left hand side of the site for a while now. During that time we've been busily collecting a bunch of stars from around the world of swimming to let you see what else is happening, minute by minute, in our sport.

So the latest site update adds those World Stars to our twitter panel. Every 30sec it rotates between Team GB and World Tweets. Many of the tweeps will be familiar to you: Coach_Bowman and MichaelPhelps for instance will hardly need introducing. Others are probably not so well known: Norwegian Breaststroke ace AlexDaleOen perhaps, or the very entertaining Mahrqoos (Austrian Markus Rogan). And then there are the stars of yesteryear: SummerSanders_ and JanetBEvans for instance - you might want to research them on wikipedia. We've not forgotten the coaches either: Bob Bowman was mentioned earlier, there's also Dr Dave Salo, Romain Barnier, and the legendary Jon Urbanchek.

Obviously not everyone in the world always speaks English, and from time to time the tweets reflect that. The Dutch sprint girls FemkeHeemskerk and Ranomikromo are often unintelligible as is Japan's KitajimaKosuke, but tough - they're included anyway.

In short, if something's happening in the world of swimming, you're more than likely going to hear rumours about it here first. After that, if it's important it will quickly appear in our news feed too. So stay right here for your swimming fix!

Animal Squad for 2012

Animal Squad, 2012 6 Nov: Towards the end of 2009 we decided something needed to be done to get more of Doncaster's finest contesting the big events (distance Freestyle, the Big Medley, and the dreaded 200m Butterfly). So we invented the Animal Squad to recognise those competing in the killer events.

The results were extraordinary, especially for the 200m Butterfly. We immediately doubled (or close enough) the previous year's tally and the following year almost matched it again. What the table below also shows, is that although 2011 dropped 5 swimmers from the Fly list, the Big Medley actually gained 9! So a huge pat on the back to all those swimmers (and supportive parents) who took the challenge to heart and were brave enough to have a crack.

Now, we're just 2 months in to the 2012 season and so far we've had a fantastic start with 3 members of the National Squad already! But what about the Animals? Just take a look below - in October alone we've already matched last season's total for 200m Butterfly.

An awesome start.

Season Fly IM 800 1500
Oct 2011 25 7    
2010/11 25 25 6 8
2009/10 30 16 14* 4*
2008/09 16 *boys & girls in both
2007/08 21  
2006/07 17  
2005/06 15  
2004/05 3  
2003/04 3  
2002/03 2  
2001/02 3  
2000/01 2  
1999/00 8  

There have only been two opportunities so far to earn a place among the 2012 animals. This evening's licenced time trials give the girls the opportunity to add 400m IM, and 15 are set to do so. That will give us 19 already this season (more than 2010 and just 6 short of last season's overall total)! The boys meanwhile are set for a fun 1500m Freestyle. We have 8 on the start sheet, exactly the same as last season's total and 4 more than the season before which included girls too!

Start the season as you mean to go on.

For those of you too chicken (note: chickens aren't animals!) to enter these more painful events, take note. At some point later in the season, you might find a few of your friends walking around in fancy Animal Squad polo shirts; you wouldn't want to miss out, would you?