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News February 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

7 Golds and Another NQT for Weekend 2

26 Feb: Second weekend at the Yorkshire Championships at the John Charles Centre for Sport in Leeds saw an even stronger performance from our Dartes super swimmers. This weekend the medal haul totalled 7 Gold, 8 Silver, and 12 Bronze. What a fantastic start to 2012!

Mark: Owning Lane 4 Stand out swimmer of the weekend for Coach Dave had to be Jessica Gillatt (SAS). Swimming out of her skin in both the 100m and 200m Breaststroke she got herself two Bronze medals for her hard work. Jess also managed to smash the 14 years Dartes age group record in the 200m event, lowering the mark set by Sophie Coy (Adw) in 2007 by 4sec. That whopping 8sec PB left her 0.8sec away from a National Qualifying Time.

What pleased Coach Dave most about the swim was the way she held on to the leaders all the way through the race, especially the 3rd 50m which is always the hardest length. Clearly in a lot of pain, she followed the race plan (within 2sec of PB at 100m, then push the 3rd quarter as hard as possible) to the letter. A very courageous swim and Jess showed great strength and determination.

If that was a super swim, it was still only a Bronze medal. Max Litchfield (Spa) showed everyone how to win Gold in 100m Backstroke as a warm up to British Championships a week or so away. Little brother Joe Litchfield (Spa) did the same winning 2 Golds for both Backstroke events (4th year in a row), and 3 Silvers in 200m Butterfly, 200m Breaststroke and 400m Individual Medley. He also gained a National Qualifying time in 100m Backstroke.

Other successful boys included Mark Beech (Spa) winning one of each: Gold in 200m Backstroke (4th year in a row), Silver in 1500m Freestyle and Bronze in 100m Backstroke. Jamie Clarke (Arm) brought home 2 Silvers in 200m Butterfly and 200m Individual Medley. He also won 2 Bronze medals in 100m Backstroke and 1500m Freestyle. Jarvis Parkinson (Arm) returned from a school trip that kept him away from the previous weekend's action to win Gold in 200m Breaststroke, and 3 Bronze in 200m Butterfly, 100m Freestyle and 400m Individual Medley.

Other standout performances from the boys included Robbie Casson (Adw). He won a Bronze medal in 200m Backstroke and then after a brief chat with the coaches about pacing strategies, returned for the 200m Freestyle to win Silver. Usually pacing 200m races takes a lot of practice to get right. The likes of Jamie, Jarvis, and Joe were notorious for falling asleep during the middle 100m in their early years. Often adding as much as 10sec to both middle 50m splits, only to rocket home for a new 50m PB. Medallists all: Jarvis, Alex, Joe, and Sophie It's very unusual for a 9 year old boy to pop up and get it bang on. But that's exactly what Robbie did on his way to 200m Freestyle Silver. He no doubt is more impressed by the shiny medal, but for Coach Dave and Team Manager Pete, it was the way he listened to the feedback after the 200m Backstroke, took it on board, and then executed it perfectly in the 200m Freestyle. Splits off Dave's watch: 39.8, 44.8, 44.9, 44.6. Well done Robbie.

Final special mention for the boys goes to Alex Pollard (Arm). Alex's 1500m Freestyle walloped Max's previous 12 year olds club record of 18:22, lowering it to 18:06! At last year's Yorkshires Alex claimed the 11 years record too, this latest one just highlights his distance Freestyle credentials and underlines why Coach Wallace named him as the Phase 5 one to watch at last year's presentation evening. This weekend though, on the way to another Yorkshire Bronze, Alex put himself within about 15 seconds of a National Qualifying time. That's just 1sec out of reach per 100m, and considering the gears he shifted through along the way, that's probably not an unrealistic ambition.

Either way, Alex is undoubtedly Dartes' man of the Yorkshires after scaring some of the more established 13 year old names in the county over the last two weekends - despite not even being the right age for another week or so! He's also now only 0.49sec away from the 100m Backstroke National Qualifying Time.

A few of our girls' outstanding performances go to Gillian Clarke (Arm) who won 2 Gold medals in 200m Breaststroke and 200m Individual Medley to go with last week's 200m Backstroke for a Yorkshire hat-trick. Then there's Chantelle Waugh (Arm) winning Silver in the 400m Individual Medley.

Two of our most improved girls definitely need a mention. Georgia Wright (Arm) and Katie Pendlebury (Ros) consistently reached finals (top 10 placing) across both weekends and looked every inch like they'd been doing so for years. Both have shown massive improvements lately suggesting there's still more to come in time for NERs in June.

A big well done also goes to all our Animal Squad athletes who attempted the 1500m, the big Medley, and the 200m Fly. Most swimmers never brave a 200m Butterfly, but for our three 11 year old swimmers Laura Brookes (Edl), Lucy Clarke (Ros), and Chloe Key (Min), plus the slightly older Natasha Crow (SAS), they faced the prospect of swimming 2 in one morning!

Clarkes and Friends For Lucy and Chloe it was to be their first ever Long Course attempts - you can imagine their apprehension. Superb heat performances saw all four reach finals and cement their status as Animals.

But a weekend at Yorkshires wouldn't be complete without Assistant Coach Dave's award for parent of the meet. For those of you sticking around long enough on the Sunday to enjoy the 1500m Freestyle, this will come as no surprise. The winner is ...

... Paul Beech.

Here's what Coach Dave had to say:

1500m Freestyles are great when your kid is neck and neck fighting for a medal the whole way through. Fran Halsall recently told the World that her mum doesn't breath during her races, it's a good job Paul didn't follow suit for the 20mins Mark was racing! Half way through Mark's race, Coach Nick from Hull tapped me on the shoulder and said: "Is that one of your lot running up and down those stairs?". We've earned a bit of a reputation over the years for mad parents, and sure enough who should be seen frantically waving on his son, then running back up the stairs for a better view, down again, up again, then down ...

Next time Paul, you can have one of the banners to fly above your head like a Brazilian football supporter as you run along the top of the balcony and down all the stairs.

6 Golds and 1 NQT for Weekend 1

14 Feb: The Yorkshires got off to a flying start with our superstars from Dartes winning a host of medals demonstrating we are up there with the best of 'em. We brought home 6 Gold, 4 Silver, 3 Bronze and 6 4th place finishes, and with another action packed weekend to come surely there will be many more to add to these.

Top 4 placings are as follows: Guess Who?

Gold

Silver

Bronze

4th

As ever it's good to get feedback about the weekend's performances from our coaches so we asked Head Coach Andy who he thought stood out from the two days worth of action and likewise from Assistant Coach Dave.

Andy had some very positive messages for our swimmers ...

The outstanding performer for the first weekend for the boys was Alex Pollard (Arm) with a range of PB swims showing a controlled stroke with ever improving technique and a high quality of skills. Alex was not afraid to push the underwater work, and because of his efforts he narrowly missed out on a couple of medals by mere fractions of a second. Impressive stuff considering he has only just moved into the 13yrs age group; in fact, as one of his competitors pointed out to a team mate while swimming down: "He's not even 13 yet!" Joe Litchfield (Spa) also added to his customary medal haul with 4 in total 1 Gold, 2 Silvers and a Bronze.

Outstanding Gillian Outstanding Alex On the Girls side standout performers were Georgia Wright (Arm) and Shannon Dodson (Adw). Georgia made a top 10 in the 400m Freestyle with a 4:59; finished 5th in the 100m Backstroke in 1:13.92; and her highest finish was 4th in the 200m Backstroke in 2:37.33. Still lots of improvements on skills and techniques for her to make which should enable her to continue the fast progressions she has already made since joining Dartes, but 3 Yorkshire finals in her first year of qualifying for anything above a 50m sprint speaks volumes for her work ethic.

Shannon Dodson dipped under the Long Course 100m and 200m Backstroke National Qualifying Times with dominant displays, leading both races from start to finish and with solid techniques and improved skills. The longer distance adds a second event to her summer programme. She also finished 4th in the 200m IM.

In the lowest age group Gillian Clarke (Arm) produced an excellent 200m Backstroke with excellent turns, 5m or more on all three - impressive for such a young swimmer.

Hopefully all our swimmers can go into the second weekend with a positive attitude. Many of their main events are still to come, so we should be able to add to the medal tally and have a few more breaking into the list of top 10 finishers and finalists. If we are going to achieve this target its important everybody performs with high levels of technique and skill along with intelligent race plan execution (i.e. pacing) throughout the weekend. Make sure you are better prepared than your rivals by warming up, swimming down and eating/drinking properly.

It would be great if our athletes could heed their Head Coach's advice and head into the second weekend ready to nail every swim.

Coach Dave's input was a rather different approach! Here's his description of the weekend's top performer ...

The performance of the weekend goes to Suzi Waugh. She swam a superb 10 year olds 200m Freestyle. Her kicking was phenomenal (albeit it with her arms) and her arm speed fantastic and from our vantage point opposite the viewing gallery we're pretty sure she rarely took a breath and definitely no breathing in the last 5m! Bouncing up and down a bit too much though as the race neared it's end - we'll have to work on that. If we get enough donations, we'll consider posting the video on YouTube later.

Her daughter Chantelle was pretty good in the pool too ;-)

It was also nice to see a couple of Yorkshire medallists from years gone by return to the fold. Having previously won 3 Bronze medals a few years ago, Sophie Coy (Adw) returns to top class competition and just about hung on to the leaders in a few events and enjoyed a couple of final appearances. Similarly, Yorkshire and NER Champion from her early years at Dartes, Rhiannon Hill (Spa) marked her return to Dartes and Phase 5 with a top 8 finish in the 400m Freestyle.

From a parent's perspective, it was nice to see and hear so many parents supporting all the Dartes swimmers and not just their own children. Special thanks go to Pete Litchfield and Leanne Dodson our poolside chaperones.

Meet the Swimmer: Matt Grevers

14 Feb: As London 2012 gets ever closer, we thought it would be nice to introduce you all to the likely stars of the Olympic swimming pool and showcase some of the World's finest athletes. For the last few we crossed the Atlantic to join Chloe Sutton and Rebecca Soni in the States. This month we're going to stay there and get things rolling once more with a valentine's day special introducing you to Beijing Silver medallist Matthew Grevers.

If Liam Tancock has any aspirations for winning Gold in London in the summer, he's going to have to get past this guy first. He might only have been ranked 23rd in Liam's best event for 2011 (compared to Liam's 2nd) but we all know the 50m sprint isn't an Olympic event. So far in 2012 the big man from Illinois is ranked number 2 in the World at both 100m and 200m events. Point to note: he won his Beijing Silver in a year that he ended up ranked 5th!

He's definitely one to watch if he secures his place on Team USA - competition for Backstroke is pretty fierce, there are another 3 Americans within 1sec of him on the 100m including Michael Phelps. Of course, there's a certain Ryan Lochte to contend with on the 200m.

But we said this was a Valentines Day special, and here's why. At last weekend's Missouri Grand Prix he won the 100m Backstroke. Much to his girlfriend's surprise, the meet officials had asked her to present the medals. Her response: "You realise I got fifth ... yesterday? I don't really have any impressive credentials right now."

Nevertheless, they were adamant she should present the medals, they were afterall, just looking for National Team members to present - and that's what Annie Chandler is. When Matt's brother and Tucson Ford Assistant Coach suggested she might jump up on the podium with Matt for "a photo" though, things took a surprising twist as a conspiracy was uncovered.

Congratulations to Matt for handling the pressure to win the race and for the stylish proposal. Somehow, we don't think things would have worked out quite so well had he not been stood on the top step of the podium. Word on the street has it that the proposal was going to come the day before, but Annie only managed 5th - ooops!