News December 2012
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
Finally, the big 100!
29 Dec: It's been a ground breaking year in so many ways: our first National Champions in 15 years and a record medal tally at North East Regional Championships to name but two. It's also the year we finally hit the 100 training members mark (excluding Masters), something we've been trying to do for about 5 years. Thanks to the hard work and enthusiasm of Coach Danny Winn, getting out among the clubs, JDS took on its latest recruit in December which pushed us to 100 before the year end, and helped JDS edge ever closer to full capacity - we gave Coach Danny a target of 60 for our development squads, he has 10 more to find in the new year.
Nothing ever stands still though - no room for complacency.
If we rest on our laurels and just allow things to tick along, expecting that to produce the same outcome as this year, the chances are we'll take a step backwards. Focus for the new year must be on taking the next step forwards - no matter who you are: coach, athlete, or parent. For 2013 then it's business as usual - more hard work for everyone!
The challenge laid down for 2012 was Pathways and as it impacts Dartes: increase the flow of swimmers from clubs to performance programme.
Have things improved?
Will 2013 bring change for better or worse?
Here are the raw numbers, you decide:
|Pos||Club||P5||P4||P3||P2||P1||Total||+/- Season||+/- Year|
|8=||South Axholme Sharks||1||1||0||0||0||2||-1||-3|
|End of Year, Club Distribution and difference since September/January|
There is a massive problem brewing for the near future though, it's one we've been aware of for some time. You may remember this poster challenge from a few years ago. The problem is one of Gender Balance. The tables below give a snapshot from our reporting tool at the end of December. This is what we're seeing at the top of Doncaster's swimming pathway: a massive shortage of boys. We know this reflects the situation at most of our clubs (and most other clubs in Yorkshire). Have a look down the table on the left while you keep in mind how many boys are needed for Yorkshire teams in each age group, and especially Arena League teams.
It's a problem most people are vaguely aware of, but here are the numbers in black and white. It makes stark reading. So the challenge for 2013 is to reverse that trend. Not just by pushing more boys up the pathway to Dartes, but by finding ways to attract more boys in to club swimming in the first place. This is probably a task for parents. Sell the sport to the families of your kid's friends, around your school and social circle. Encourage them to get their sons involved. It's to the benefit of every swimming club in Doncaster, not just Dartes.
And so it Begins
14 Dec: For the opening salvo of Phase 4's 2x800 test set we shuck things up a bit and stole one of the lanes from the later JDS session. Last season things got a bit crowded, the extra lane will hopefully ease that and allow a higher quality of work to be done.
For all those ultra-competitive parents out there, hanging over the balcony, stop watch in hand, a few quick points to keep in mind. Firstly, despite the name of the set, this isn't actually 800m. Comparing these times with performances at meets is never going to look favourable. Nor for those newly moved up from JDS is this the same as the 800 yard timed swims that Coach Kevin used to do. Comparing these times with that isn't going to look favourable either. Instead this is exactly 900 yards, which is the closest we can get to 800m in St James without falling short (or stopping half way down the pool).
It's also done twice, back to back, with not a great deal of rest between them. A solid training effect, but psychologically it also builds confidence in a swimmer's ability to attack an 800m Freestyle race aggressively. And that is what it's all about!
So who were the heavy-hitters, and who the shrinking violets?
Ominously, the thought of working hard for 10mins (twice) seems to be kneading its way in to the head of Joseph Gatus (Spa). Whether he likes the thought or not, there's a distance Freestyler in there somewhere (once he learns how to kick that is). He knocked off over 1min to climb in to the top 5 performers of all time finishing 3rd on the day.
Ahead of him, and if we had more room we'd stick them side by side just to see what happens, Robert Kirk (Spa) and Josh Reasbeck (Edl) were battling away for top honours. A little rusty perhaps, a few seconds off their best performances, but we'll see what happens in the new year.
If that was a little skirmish, there was all out war in the earlier session. Eyes firmly on beating the 11min mark, or maybe closer to the truth, laying down a time that a certain someone in the next session couldn't beat, Thomas Wilson (Arm) chased Lauren Jarvis (Arm) for all he was worth (hint: kicking also helps). It worked, a 50sec time drop for the pair finishing 5th and 6th. The top 7 should all be aiming to go sub-11mins next time!
Down another lane, and just about hanging on to the leading feet a lane rope away Chantelle Waugh (Arm) and Rianna Hill (Min) dragged themselves in to the top 10 too. You'll be expected to back up these times next year, when we re-arrange the lane orders for this set.
|1||Robert Kirk||14 Dec 2012||5:00||10:29||5:09||10:46||10:37||3 (2)|
|2||Joshua Reasbeck||14 Dec 2012||5:05||10:41||5:05||10:43||10:42||4 (1)|
|3||Joseph Gatus||14 Dec 2012||5:16||11:07||5:13||10:55||11:01||5 (5)|
|4||Laura Brookes||14 Dec 2012||5:10||11:01||5:16||11:06||11:03||6 (6)|
|5||Lauren Jarvis||14 Dec 2012||5:17||11:07||5:27||11:10||11:08||8 (8)|
|6||Thomas Wilson||14 Dec 2012||5:27||11:24||5:24||11:08||11:16||10 (10)|
|7||Georgia Whetton||14 Dec 2012||5:22||11:12||5:24||11:23||11:17||11 (12)|
|8||Chantelle Waugh||14 Dec 2012||5:26||11:08||5:28||11:38||11:23||15 (15)|
|9||Rianna Hill||14 Dec 2012||5:30||11:26||5:21||11:28||11:27||16 (16)|
|10||Amber Hardy||14 Dec 2012||5:25||11:27||5:37||11:50||11:38||18 (13)|
|11||Lily Metcalfe||14 Dec 2012||5:39||11:37||5:37||11:49||11:43||19 (19)|
|12||Chloe Key||14 Dec 2012||5:44||11:52||5:57||12:10||12:01||21 (21)|
|13||Grace Litchfield||14 Dec 2012||5:52||12:14||5:45||12:05||12:09||26 (23)|
|14||Tilly Arrand||14 Dec 2012||12:09||5:54||12:14||12:11||26 (26)|
|15||Oswald Hood||14 Dec 2012||5:40||11:53||6:10||12:41||12:17||27 (20)|
|16||Olivia Drury||14 Dec 2012||5:45||12:17||5:57||12:23||12:20||27 (27)|
|17||Gillian Clarke||14 Dec 2012||12:44||5:58||12:19||12:31||32 (32)|
|18||Bradley Hurdiss||14 Dec 2012||12:37||5:57||12:29||12:33||34 (34)|
|19||Rebecca Christmas||14 Dec 2012||5:52||12:26||6:05||12:43||12:34||35 (25)|
|20||Rebecca Wright||14 Dec 2012||12:42||5:58||12:38||12:40||35 (35)|
|21||Rebecca Allen||14 Dec 2012||12:57||5:58||12:36||12:46||36 (36)|
|22||Robbie Casson||14 Dec 2012||6:01||12:39||6:14||13:10||12:54||38 (38)|
|23||Taylor Hardy||14 Dec 2012||14:20||6:45||14:25||14:22||44 (42)|
|24||Kara Mayos||14 Dec 2012||14:46||7:43||15:19||15:02||44 (44)|
|25||Lucy Clarke||14 Dec 2012||5:43||11:57|
|26||Lauren Heywood||14 Dec 2012||5:59||12:18|
Like we said at the start, this set is about building confidence in attacking longer distances. First time out, many are rather apprehensive, holding back on rep 1 to save a little something for rep 2. Executed properly rep 1 should always be fastest with rep 2 less than 30sec behind. And if you don't feel queasy at the end of it, you probably haven't pushed yourself hard enough (ewww)!
It takes a little bit of practice, an awful lot of determination, and sacks full of courage (or stupidity). Give it a try next time.
NER Shortcourse Championships
2 Dec: Up in Sunderland two galas run side by side, usually the 1st weekend in December, for the North East Regional Short Course Championships. This year it was a very cold 1st and 2nd of December which saw the Senior/Junior event in one half of the pool, and the Age-Group event in the other half. If you're thinking "chaos" or wondering how things don't get muddled up then you're not alone. In practice though, it works rather well. Until that is, you end up with children in both categories - then you end up moving around quite a lot!
For the coaches of course it would be a nightmare. How do you work with athletes racing in two pools at the same time? Fortunately we always take two (Coach Andy for the Senior pool, and Coach Dave for the Age-Groupers). Not so lucky for Team Manager Pete though, who usually gives a valiant attempt at keeping track of all the splits as well as organising the kids.
It's one of those weekends where you really need to go prepared. Being over two hours away it's definitely a hotel job. The all you can eat Taybarn attached Premier Inn being the most popular (even if Coach Andy doesn't care much for frozen chips), and packed lunches are an absolute essential for poolside. There is no café to speak of on site, and only the banned McDonald's within walking distance (fine for parents, definitely out of bounds for athletes). So for those heading there next year, make sure you get your nutritional essentials packed, and leave the performance sapping sweets and chocolate at home!
On the plus side though, and unlike last year's event, the aquatics centre itself wasn't a sweatbox like Ponds Forge - it is a lot more comfortable - with plenty of real seating for the athletes even if the parents are a little squeezed in. So on with the swimming...
Firstly our Senior/Junior events.
It seems the age groups in Senior/Junior regionals confuse many, so let's clear that bit up first. Traditionally, once swimmers leave the age groups, they've instantly found themselves thrown together in one great big, all encompassing muddle. Boys turn 15 and suddenly find themselves up against muscly men in their 20s. A little demoralising maybe, especially for those who used to clean up against those born the same year as themselves, but suddenly find themselves beaten left right and centre. Obviously, you can't compete in single year age bands forever, and the best young athletes need to gain experience racing those bigger and uglier than themselves, so the double year Junior sub-competition (14/15 girls, 15/16 boys) is added in to ease the transition.
All athletes compete in the Senior contest, they all receive a senior placing, and all have the chance to compete in the Senior final, but the top 3 Juniors also get recognised as such and are presented with Junior medals. Usually, a few of the best Juniors end up with two medals from the same race: a Junior medal and a Senior medal. Often, those spectacular performances are pulled off by swimmers from Dartes!
One of those young superstars from previous years was competing as a fully-fledged, experienced Senior this time round. Max Litchfield (Spa) took the competition by storm to win Senior Gold in all 6 events he contested; he was inspiring to watch as nobody could touch him in any race. He also smashed his first ever Senior Yorkshire Record in the 400m IM, which had stood since 1998.
One of our Juniors followed in his footsteps. Oliver Richardson (Edl) won himself a Gold in the 200m Breaststroke and jumped from 97th on our medal table to 40th. A just reward for all his hard work over the years, and his team oriented approach to setting a good example to those around him.
Shannon Dodson (Adw) won Silver in true T-Rex style for her signature event the 100m Backstroke, and three Bronze medals: two for the 200m version of the same event (both Junior and Senior) and another for 100m Butterfly. She also smashed 3 Dartes age-group records over the weekend: 50m Freestyle, 100m Butterfly, and 200m Backstroke (the latter also the women's record). Wow!
But then something pretty special happened. We got our first "first-timer" National Qualifyer of the season. She only started Phase 4 last March, she pretty much forced her way in to Phase 5 back in January, and now, 3 months shy of completing her 2nd year of serious training Georgia Wright (Arm) swam a 2sec PB on 100m Backstroke to dip 0.05sec below NQT. That swim also places her 2nd on the 14 year olds top performers list a little over 1sec behind the mighty T-Rex herself! As if that wasn't enough, she then went out and snatched the Dartes age-group record in the 50m sprint on her way to NER Bronze.
We still seem to pick up more medals in Backstroke than anything else, and that theme continued with George Scatchard (Spa) winning a Junior Bronze in the 200m. Just like Oliver, Gerge is another who gets down to the hard work in training. Unlike Rambo, Gerge tends to do it quietly, and racks up the medals in the same stealthy fashion - that's 4 NER medals for him now.
It's tough for the Juniors to get in amongst it though. Finishes are critically important at this level, and many a close race can be lost due to nothing but loss of concentration in the last 5m. It's an area we've been concerned about for a while, and something all our athletes should pay particular attention to at every opportunity. We've said it before, but it tends to be the same people who win close races every time. It's not about luck, finishing is a skill you need to practice!
Not suggesting those comments apply to the following more than anyone else, but a few more of our Juniors just missed out on medals, despite putting in some awesome swims. Caitlin Dixon (Arm) finished 5th in the 800m Freestyle, and 6th in the 400m IM - quite the Animal. She also sang "Anything you can do, I can do too" to Shan, by smashing 3 Dartes age-group records and a women's record: 400m Freestyle, 400m IM, and 800m Freestyle (the 800 being the senior record).
Another fearless 800m Freestyler was Natasha Crow (SAS). Her 7th placed finish moving her to 3rd place on the all time 14 year girls performer list.
Phew, after all that excitement, let's move on to the age-group championships down the other end of the pool.
Last year's "one to watch" as nominated by our Head Coach at our own awards ceremony, was on fine form as always. Alex Pollard (Arm) entered 8 events over the weekend, he came home with 8 Gold medals and 4 short course NQT. He was oh so close to setting 8 new PBs too, but fell half a second short in his 100m Freestyle. He's the boy keeping Joe Litchfield (Spa) and Jarvis Parkinson (Arm) on their toes with regards club records. Being almost a year younger than them, they both need to set some spectacular times to prevent him sweeping them off the record books 12 months later. Case in point: he claimed the 1500m Freestyle record this weekend.
Speaking of "have a go Joe", he won 4 Gold medals of his own. 200m Butterfly, 100m and 200m Backstroke and 400m IM. He also won 2 Silvers in 100m Butterfly and 200m IM (where Jarvis took the Gold), and a Bronze in 100m Breaststroke (where Jarvis took the Silver). Jarvis picked up more Silver in the Freestyles (100m, 200m and 400m), in three very close tussles with Kyle Chisholm from BoKirklees. Those swims leave him rather close to Max's age-group records with another 8 months before aging up - we'll shortly open the betting on how many, if any, he breaks ;-)
Another age-grouper having a good weekend, Laura Brookes (Edl) won Gold in 200m Butterfly, 3 Silvers in 100m and 200m freestyle, plus the big medley. She also took the Bronze in 400m Freestyle.
A couple of our younger swimmers also swam superbly; Gillian Clarke (Arm) won 2 Bronze medals in 100m and 200m Backstroke. And last but by no means least Robbie Casson (Adw) won a Gold medal in 100m Backstroke and a silver in the 200m of the same event.
Oh wait, we've missed one.
Attempting distance Backstroke this weekend was
Joseph Gatus (Spa).
4 whole lengths of the pool while Team Manager Pete and Coach Dave were nervously biting their nails, worried he wouldn't finish the full distance - being such a long, long way - but finish it he did.
A blistering start saw him turn miles ahead of the field and looking strong - after 25m!
He was starting to tire at the 50m turn, but still held a 0.03sec lead over the confusingly named Aaron Tilly in 2nd. An agonisingly painful looking final 50m saw him hold off Aaron, but Myles Stirk sneaked through for the Gold. Silver for Joe.
Actually it was a pretty solid performance for "I'm a Sprinter Get Me Outta Here!". That swim moves him to 4th on the all time 12 year old performers list. It's an old adage, but nevertheless true: if you want to race seriously over 100m, you need to regularly race the 200m too. The experience gained from the longer distance helps enormously when the wheels start to come off down the back half of the 100. There's a lesson for all you young swimmers. Joe is starting to get to grips with the longer ones these days, it'll be interesting to see how that works for him in the Spring long course championships.
Fun and Frolics at Snow Frills
2 Dec: Due to a large contingent going to NERs, Coach Dan (the rudolph man) and Team Manager Jane Hill were left with a smaller band of swimmers at Ponds Forge for the Snow Frills meet. This was the first Long Course competition for some of those taking part - and also Dan's first solo run!
Without a doubt the star for Dartes was Oliver Vodden (Adw) with two Golds and one Bronze - Lauren Heywood (Min) got a superb 6th in the gruelling 200m Butterly and not to be outdone by her sister Rebecca Heywood (Min) equalled her achievement - a family of flyers perhaps!
Georgia Whetton (Arm) swam very well too. She missed out on a medal though finishing 4th in four races! Much more important than medals anyway, were Yorkshire Qualifying Times, and she came home with another 3 under her belt. A 20sec improvement over her 200m Freestyle PB left her just over 1sec outside that one too - next time!
A busy weekend for Georgia, she also got to introduce her brother Jamie Whetton (Arm) to poolside for his first meet wearing Dartes colours. Grace Litchfield (Min) was another one setting long course Yorkshire times, hers in 200m Backstroke. No more medals were won but PBs were smashed throughout the weekend.
Dan and Jane decided to add a little more competition - as if the kids aren't competitive enough! To encourage our swimmers to complete their underwater work (for the uninitiated: a big push and glide, 4 Fly kicks, and 2 strokes without breathing) those who failed in the task received a forfeit of 5 press-ups. Sportingly Corinne Hill (Min) Grace, Oliver and Imogen Coney (Adw) all completed 5 press ups [Coach Dave adds: at least 2 of those should be ashamed of themselves for choosing press ups over quality turns!]
You just know there is a but!
The swimmers decided to turn the tables and came up with a new deal. For everyone who swam past the flags underwater Coach Dan would complete five press-ups instead. The turns and underwater work, for some reason, were even better than normal with all going well past the flags. As a result Dan managed 10 pressups poolside on the day, but still owes our swimmers, wait for it: 35 pressups (that was only from two events).
We'll be selling tickets for anyone who wants to watch him complete the rest, in his now famous Reindeer onesie!
Just one final thought. For those who are still looking for Christmans pressies for your children, speak to Coach Dan. For one weekend the kids ditched their electronics and were completely taken with his giant game of "Squares". Amazing what can be done with a piece of paper and two pens.
Dan, Dan, the Reindeer Man
2 Dec: While the majority of our athletes travelled up to Sunderland last weekend for NER Short Course Championships, a handful of our younger guys sweated it out at Ponds Forge for a bit of Long Course racing. For the likes of Emma Bradbury (Min), Lauren Christmas (Arm), Jamie Whetton (Arm) and a few others, it was their first go in a 50m pool. Coach Dan and Team Manager Jane Hill were poolside taking care of our swimmers and all had a great day.
Those who had raced Long Course before achieved a PB in everything - wow!
For those who struggle to understand the stats at the top of the results archive pages, that's the line that says: "New PB 48 (+122n) 28% (100%)". That means 48 PBs which make up 28% of all performances on the day; plus 122 first time performances. Technically, as first time performances are also new PBs, that gives a 100% PB ratio for the meet!
Remember, especially those of you who are less experienced, Long Course PBs should never be compared with Short Course PBs. To see why, take a look through our Club Records and see how big the difference is between them.
Oliver Vodden (Adw) was our star of the weekend showing everyone how to swim Breaststroke. Two Golds in the 50m and 200m, and a Bronze in the 100m too. For all of you aspiring to improve your Breaststroke you could start by observing Oliver's whip kick!
But this little article isn't really about the swimming. Oh no, that will hopefully arrive later. For now, here's a story about something happening behind the scenes.
While the swimmers were working hard and focusing on their racing, Coach Dan was conjuring up a plan. He needed to purchase himself a festive onesie for a night out on the town with the boys, but he didn't have the courage to go and buy it by himself. Instead, one poor unsuspecting parent happened to mention that she was popping off to Primark in the lunch break. Dan being Dan, jumped straight in and discretely asked if she would go and get said onesie for him.
Tut tut Dan.
You should know by now that discretion at Dartes just doesn't happen.
So anyway, off they go. Coach Dan, parent, and swimmer (who shall remain nameless, but hint hint, may have a festive surname - who could we possibly mean?) They all rock up to Primark and check out the onesies.
Dan decides, as he's a little bit vertically challenged, that he may fit into a ladies onesie. We could have had a lot of fun with that, but alas, none of them seemed quite right. He finally settled on a little reindeer number from the men's section; loud and hideous, but if you're going to go out and look stupid you may as well go the whole hog!
Thinking he's got away unnoticed by the masses he goes and waits by the door. The young swimmer, however, has other ideas and decides to announce to the whole of Primark that she was buying the onesie for her coach because he wouldn't buy it himself.
Ha ha sorry Dan, but the story just had to be told!
Coach Dan has promised to sport his onesie on poolside one evening around Christmas, so lets watch out for that! Our advice for him would be to bring a spare pair of clothes to training that day - you will not be staying dry!
Senior Yorkshire Record Tumbles
3 Dec: Every successful sports team has someone who sets the standard, raises the bar, inspires those around them to set their own expectations higher. For a generation at Dartes, that person has been Max Litchfield (Spa). He's swept away club records from a different era, claimed medals at first county level, then regional level, then eventually National Gold too. He went on a record breaking spree in his final year as a junior, claiming 4 Yorkshire Short Course marks (50m, 100m, 200m Backstroke; 200m IM) which still stand today. That tally leaves Dartes with 6: the 1995 50m Butterfly record of Greg Viercant (Arm) and the 1996 50m Breaststroke of Sam Seddon (Adw) being the other two. In that same record breaking period he also claimed the British Junior Short Course Record for 200m IM.
Earlier this year he reached two finals as part of the British team at European Junior Championships. Two 6th place finishes in his first of two years of eligibility.
Well in what is likely to be his final season at Dartes before leaving for University, his habit of doing quite extraordinary things without making headlines (actually going pretty much unnoticed apart from here in Doncaster) looks to be continuing. This weekend's NER Short Course meet saw him dominate with 6 Senior Gold medals. On top of that though, the 400m IM also saw him smash his first Senior Yorkshire record. It had stood since 1998 to City of Leeds' T Kinugasa in 4:13. Saturday afternoon's final lowered that to 4:12.15 (to be confirmed)!
The lack of headline grabbing doesn't end there though. That same swim pushes him to the top of the British short course Rankings for 2012! Not some arbitrary age group rankings, but Senior British Rankings. In second place is Thomas Haffield who managed 4:14.24 at European Short Course a week or so ago. For those who don't know, the Welshman represented GB at 400m IM at the Beijing Olympics.
Just for kicks, we visited the SwimNews Rankings. Regional Championships probably don't get included in this World Swimming rankings system, but if they did, Max would now be sitting at number 20 - in the World!
So if Max has been the dominant force in the pool at Dartes in recent years, what happens when University beckons? On the boys side at least, we'll be looking at a very strong group of National medallists/finalists to step up and become the new standard setters. Looking back through our own age-group records tells it's own story. Where once Max wiped away the old records, now his records are becoming a distant memory. For 13 year olds he barely gets a mention, just 50m Breaststroke, distance Freestyle, and a 400m IM - just 5. Those honours are now shared between younger brother Joe Litchfield (Spa) with 15, Jarvis Parkinson (Arm) with 10, and the 1500m Freestyle (SC) for Alex Pollard (Arm) who may yet claim more before turning 14.
Their job now is to continue raising the bar for everyone else, just like Max did for them. The challenge: wipe Mighty Max from the pages of the 14 year old record book. Behind them, our current 10 year old boys aren't a million miles away from the records either. No reason why they can't step up and become the challenge for the next big 3 over the next few years.
Exciting times are afoot!