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News January 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

Better late than never: 4x400 Kick Test

30 Jan: There are always complaints when we make them wait to see the test set results. 10 days ago we did the 4x400m kick test with Phase 4. Miss Consistency Lauren Jarvis (SAS) managed to knock a minute off her previous best average with 3 identical times and a final sprint touching home 1sec faster. Caitlin Feirn (Ros) did a similarly consistent job, keeping all 4 reps within a 2second spread.

Setting the records Miss Consistent Keeping things tight might be ideal for rifle shooting, but we're not entirely convinced that's the way to go on this set. Although consistent times seem more prevalent on kick than the 2x800m swims; looking down the table small changes seem to be the norm. If you're really hammering each round with as much determination as you can muster, we would expect a spread of times more like those of Robert Kirk (Spa) on the way to setting yet another squad record in this event.

Maybe everyone else needs to be more aggressive on the first two rounds next time - or maybe kick just doesn't work that way. Who knows. Anyway, about the time we did this set, we spotted a particularly relevant exchange flying by on twitter between a few famous names ...

Bob Bowman
RT: Murray Stephens - "we believe all young swimmers need to become good kickers" (Circa 1983)

David Marsh
RT @coach_bowman: Murray Stephens "we believe all young swimmers need to become good kickers" (Circa 1983) We Agree @swimmacc !

Jessica Hardy:
Wish some1 had done same w me @coach_bowman: Murray Stephens - "we believe all young swimmers need to become good kickers" (Circa 1983)

Pos Name Date Rep 1 Rep 2 Rep 3 Rep 4 Avg All Time
1 Robert Kirk 20 Jan 2012 7:19 7:19 7:28 7:37 7:25 1 (1)
20 Dec 2011 7:23 7:25 7:33 7:23 7:26
22 Nov 2011 8:08 7:34 7:38 7:38 7:44
2 Leanne Davies 20 Jan 2012 7:59 8:05 8:00 7:58 8:00 5 (5)
22 Nov 2011 7:44 10:08 8:39 8:36 8:46
3 Rebecca Heywood 20 Jan 2012 7:58 8:04 8:04 8:05 8:02 8 (7)
20 Dec 2011 8:04 8:00 7:57 8:07 8:02
22 Nov 2011 8:10 7:59 8:13 8:19 8:10
4 Lily Metcalfe 20 Jan 2012 8:01 8:05 8:07 8:05 8:04 8 (8)
20 Dec 2011 8:07 8:03 8:39 8:37 8:21
22 Nov 2011 8:09 7:58 7:58 8:18 8:05
5 Laura Brookes 20 Jan 2012 7:59 8:07 8:15 8:26 8:11 10 (10)
20 Dec 2011 8:04 8:32 8:33 8:33 8:25
22 Nov 2011 7:59 8:06 9:03 8:21 8:22
6 Lucy Clarke 20 Jan 2012 8:16 8:23 8:17 8:19 8:18 12 (6)
20 Dec 2011 7:48 7:55 8:02 8:18 8:00
22 Nov 2011 8:01 8:34 8:45 8:25 8:26
7 Courtney Massey 20 Jan 2012 8:23 8:36 8:24 8:33 8:29 15 (15)
20 Dec 2011 9:35 10:13 9:42 9:34 9:46
22 Nov 2011 8:45 9:05 8:37 8:16 8:40
8 Joshua Reasbeck 20 Jan 2012 7:44 7:30 10:30 8:25 8:32 16 (4)
20 Dec 2011 7:47 7:52 7:50 8:01 7:52
22 Nov 2011 8:02 7:51 7:57 8:02 7:58
9 Gillian Clarke 20 Jan 2012 8:29 8:33 8:44 8:42 8:37 16 (16)
20 Dec 2011 8:32 8:40 8:51 8:48 8:42
10 Chloe Key 20 Jan 2012 8:43 8:51 8:34 8:48 8:44 17 (17)
20 Dec 2011 9:07 9:09 9:09 9:05 9:07
22 Nov 2011 8:54 9:10 8:55 8:13 8:48
11 Oswald Hood 20 Jan 2012 8:58 8:57 8:39 8:23 8:44 18 (18)
20 Dec 2011 8:52 8:52 8:56 9:02 8:55
22 Nov 2011 9:08 9:36 9:14
12 Caitlin Feirn 20 Jan 2012 8:57 8:55 8:57 8:55 8:56 20 (13)
22 Nov 2011 8:59 7:58 8:26 8:21 8:26
13 Lauren Heywood 20 Jan 2012 8:49 9:03 9:19 8:58 9:02 21 (21)
20 Dec 2011 9:15 9:15 9:22 9:08 9:15
22 Nov 2011 9:11 9:47 9:51 9:27 9:34
14 Lauren Jarvis 20 Jan 2012 9:04 9:04 9:04 9:03 9:03 22 (22)
20 Dec 2011 9:37 10:35 10:10 9:57 10:04
15 Grace Litchfield 20 Jan 2012 8:51 9:15 9:13 9:09 9:07 24 (20)
22 Nov 2011 9:00 9:10 9:10 8:33 8:58
16 Molly Butterworth 20 Jan 2012 9:04 9:09 9:03 9:55 9:17 25 (25)
17 Iona Holdsworth 20 Jan 2012 9:54 9:23 9:14 10:47 9:49 29 (29)
18 Chantelle Waugh 20 Jan 2012 9:30 9:29 9:38 10:47 9:51 30 (27)
20 Dec 2011 9:25 9:25 9:28 9:24 9:25
19 Harry Butterworth 20 Jan 2012 10:33 10:14 9:27 9:48 10:00 (26)
20 Dec 2011 9:23 9:22 9:30 9:16 9:22
22 Nov 2011 8:52 9:52 11:22 9:09 9:48
Click on the name to expand previous results

National Arena League Virtual Results

29 Jan: For the 2nd year in a row we finished as the North East's 3rd team in the National Arena Swimming League. Once all the regional finals have taken place the results are thrown in to a massive spreadsheet and a virtual final involving all 42 clubs from those regional finals is calculated. The end result is a National League table to determine the top 10 clubs to contest the prestigious National Final at Ponds Forge in April; and the next 10 clubs to contest the equally noisy National B Final on the same day.

Doncaster's finest at North East Short Course Team Support at Arena League Regional Final For those of you who haven't already seen the virtual results in Swimming Times magazine we finished 27th overall ahead of the likes of UEA City of Norwich (28th), NE rivals City of Sunderland (33rd), and Lincoln Vulcans (37th). The top 10 included both of our local Yorkshire rivals City of Leeds and City of Sheffield (3rd and 6th) - well done to them.

So the question is:
Can we climb higher up the virtual rankings next season?

The answer to that really comes down to this month's hot topic: promoting pathways. The facts are simple, the clubs in the National Final each year tend to be pretty big. The names of 7 of the top 10 for 2012 start: "City of ...". The other three are Plymouth Leander (another city), Hatfield (the one in London, not the one neighbouring Thorne), and Millfield (a sports mad school we introduced to you earlier this month).

For New Year we mentioned the importance of having over 1,000 swimmers in the pathway in order to consistently achieve success at the performance end of the sport. Clearly, that's more likely to happen if you're a city team with a population of 555,500 (Sheffield), or 256,700 (Plymouth), rather than the 70,000+ of Doncaster. But in all honesty, unless you're waiting for things to happen accidentally, the size of the population backing up your pathway is of little importance beyond a certain number; the real deciding factors come down to:

  1. Quality of Coaching
  2. How well the paths between levels are promoted

If you have around 6,000 young swimmers in learn to swim groups, but only 1,000 of them ever find their way in to competitive clubs, then there is clearly a huge barrier preventing that transition from happening. Someone is actively preventing that pathway from working by not promoting the next step for those kids!

Similarly if out of those 1,000 in competitive clubs, less than 100 find their way through to a performance swim programme, then there are even more barriers stopping their progress that need to be pulled down. You don't need a population of 798,800 (Leeds), you just need pathways that work and people committed to making them work!

So to be more competitive with the clubs above us in the National League, Doncaster needs to encourage more swimmers to train at a higher level. That's a no brainer! You can't put swimmers who train 4 or 5 hours each week up against those who train 16+ and expect to win - you won't - duh!

The Young Guns at Bradford End of Season Backstroke super stars through the ages It doesn't matter if those swimmers were Yorkshire medallists at 10, if they don't follow the training progressions outlined by the Long Term Athlete Development model (LTAD) they'll be lucky to reach a final by 12 - how many talented swimmers disappear down the rankings each year because they've not been encouraged to progress? In the National League, when up against big city teams stacked with national level athletes, having a 1,000 strong pathway behind you isn't terribly useful if they're not being encouraged to follow LTAD training guidelines. At this level, it's not about how talented you think you are, it's about how much effort you're prepared to put in. Which brings to mind a quote tweeted by Olympic Champion Roland Schoeman during the week:

"Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard"

Talent of course is another story entirely, and we'd encourage everyone to read a copy of Bounce to fully understand what that means at the highest level of sport. Here's a brief introduction to whet your appetite.

So in the context of the National League, we need to ensure that Doncaster's youngest swimmers are flowing through the squads at Dartes as a matter of course rather than the exception. From 7 or 8, as soon as they're able to swim lengths properly, phase 1 is a very gentle introduction. From there, LTAD guidelines are followed as closely as possible with the differences we have between clubs, to ensure everyone reaches their potential. Of course it's not everyone's cup of tea, and many who start JDS won't want to continue further - but at least they've had the opportunity and given it a try.

The big city clubs still have the advantage over us of course. For their swimmers, following LTAD guidelines and thus contributing to those teams stacked with National level athletes for Arena League action is a simple matter of moving up squads. Here in Doncaster it involves travelling to a new, alien environment at a young age; the hassle of making new friends; familiar faces questioning your club loyalty as you split your time between club and training scheme; and the obvious question: "well isn't the familiar good enough for now? You can always do Dartes when you're a little older."

The girls at Arena League Regional Final Some of National BAGCATs Squad from 2011 How many pathway barriers did you spot in that single sentence?
All are relevant in most cases, and we haven't even started with the controversial ones that have been floating around unchanged for 20 years or more. That last one by the way, never actually happens - you never will get round to doing it when you're a little older.

Up until 13 or 14 a child's training load has a direct and massive impact on how the body develops. Putting it simply, the higher the volume before the growth spurts that stop around that key age, the bigger the engine for life. A Ferrari can be tweaked after the age of 14 to become a Formula 1 racing car; an Audi TT can probably be tweaked to become a Ferrari; but you're going to struggle to take a Citroen Saxo and turn it in to much of anything beyond a boy racer!

As Matthew Syed says: "Champions are made" - we couldn't agree more!

The Numbers Keep on Rising

24 Jan: Each year we report on the number of entries we have for Yorkshire Championships and each year they keep on rising. We've won Most Improved Club twice in the last 3 years, and have risen up the top club rankings each year too. Back in 2009 we were 5th overall, in 2010 4th. It was never officially published last year, but we managed to get a sneaky peek of the age group club listings and we're pretty sure we were 2nd behind Leeds in that. Someone, who will remain nameless, was even sad enough to count up the medal tally for our closest challengers which also backed up that runner-up position.

So for 2012 can we continue that progress?
We know the size of Dartes has been hovering around the 90 mark for most of the past 4 years (far too small), so we're not improving based on bigger numbers. But can we continue increasing the quantity of entries without adding more to the training scheme's membership? Let's take a look ...

Boys 183188152181
Girls 284215211173
Total 467403363354
Yorkshire Entries by Year

The answer would appear to be yes - for one more year at least. For the 4th year in a row Doncaster's entries for Yorkshire Championships have increased. Just like most other clubs in Yorkshire though we appear to be struggling for boys. If you know of any who aren't currently swimming, point them at one of our clubs (remember: promote the pathways). In the meantime we'll keep our fingers crossed that Liam Tancock can rise to the Golden challenge in a few months and make every boy in the country want to swim.

So we've increased our entries again, but what does that mean for our chances at next month's Championships? It means we're starting from a strong position, but nothing else. Last year our Gold medal count was significantly lower than the other clubs in the top 5 - so we need to convert better! The likes of City of Sheffield, York City, and Borough of Kirklees scored far more first place finishes.

With that in mind, and considering that only the medals count towards the Top Club trophy, polish up your finishing and make your swim count! If you're not expecting to be in the medals, work hard and try to get a final spot anyway, make sure you're progressing up the rankings each year and next time you could be a medallist. You might even surprise yourself this time round, it often happens.

Club Visit Number 3½: Thorne Tigers

22 Jan: It's been a busy couple of weeks trying to pack in club visits before Yorkshire Championships come around. We've already squeezed in a trip to South Axholme and Dearne Valley. Then with Hall Cross pool being drained Coach Dave zoomed up to Minsthorpe on Thursday night with a small selection from Phase 4 and Phase 5. Not really a club visit per se, more a hastily arranged lane intended to help a few keep their volume consistent (thanks for the invite Blaine and Ann). Nevertheless, it's nice to touch base and pay a visit to the biggest pool in Doncaster Swimming - a 33m 6 lane giant. Thanks for the lane at Minsthorpe Blaine Thanks for the lane at Minsthorpe Ann Yes that did say metres, so significantly longer than St James at 33yrds! Anyway, we'll call that half a club visit. If nothing else it generated a worthy quote of the week from one of the Minsthorpe regulars: "You are all machines!"

With that one out of the way though, there was a planned trip to Thorne Tigers this afternoon to see how things are progressing there. Most of you will know Coach Sarah from Friday nights with Phase 4. She was eager for us to pop down to meet everyone and generally have a look around to see if we could make any suggestions for improving what they're doing. Here at Dartes we're eager to encourage Sarah on to a level 2 coaching course (a sentiment we now know Tiger's Chairman Gary shares) so down we went to check things out and give her a few pointers.

Would you believe it, the visit was cut in half by a power cut which left the pool and half of Thorne in darkness. We'll pop back again shortly.

These club visits have highlighted just how many coaches we have working alongside our lead coaches at Dartes now. In addition to Head Coach Andrew Wallace who swam for Edlington throughout his youth; Assistant Coach Kevin Nicholas who did the same at Spa Askern; and our other Assistant Dave Cuthbert who got around a few, we have 6 clubs represented poolside. Three of the four clubs we've visited this month are included in that total. It's a real Doncaster success story, and one we're determined to build upon.

Chris building up Dearne Valley Friday night regular with Phase 4: Coach Sarah It's important from a coach development view point that our club coaches have a forum to share ideas and be challenged to develop new skills. That's a role Dartes is well equiped to play; informal coach development is essential if we're going to get the best out of Doncaster's athletes. Coach Wallace goes away to talent camps to learn from the best coaches in the country, he always brings back new skills and techniques which are passed down to our assistants, and through all of them, to any other coach who pops along for an evening. It's good to see the enthusiasm of coaches like Sarah at Thorne, Blaine at Minsthorpe, and Chris at Dearne Valley as they rise to the challenge, pick up new things, and take them back to their clubs.

Remember, any coach from any of our clubs, no matter how inexperienced, are always welcome on deck at Dartes. Just make sure you bring oodles of enthusiasm and a stop watch. Experienced Head Coaches are welcome too of course. So come on, don't be shy, be an active part of the pathway.

Club Visit Number 2: Dearne Valley

Brad and Rebecca at the start of a fun weekend in Harrogate 18 Jan: We've been trying to find time for Coach Wallace to fit in this club visit for a few months but always struggled for a gap in his busy schedule. In the end Coach Dave arranged to pop down instead, and then the fates intervened and drained Hall Cross, thus freeing up the head honcho on the same evening. The result: club visit number 2 for 2012.

The visit couldn't have come at a better time, as the club's pair of JDS swimmers returned from the weekend's Harrogate meet with a bunch of medals and a speeding ticket. Hopefully the Dartes caps of Rebecca Allen (Drn) and Bradley Hurdiss (Drn) will be joined by more bobbing around in the lanes of Dearne Valley leisure centre over the coming months.

A big thank you to Head Coach Chris for the invitation, and we're happy to announce his intention to join the Dartes coaching staff helping Coach Kevin with JDS over the coming weeks.

City of Derby Level 1 Meet

14 Jan: Swimmers and Parents had been talking about this meet for weeks, rejected swims, accepted swims and of course the Team GB Swimmers who would be competing. 200m IM Boys 13/14 saw Jarvis Parkinson (Arm) finishing in 9th place for NQT number 4 and Max Litchfield (Spa) 2nd in the open age to qualify for British Championships. Both securing places in the finals. Jamie Clarke (Arm) also recorded his first NQT of the year knocking 1.54 off his PB in the open 100m Backstroke. Joe Litchfield (Spa) just missed out on the final in the 13/14 years by a tiny 0.07sec; Joe what have we told you about cutting your nails the day before a meet?

Stacking up the National Times The girls 13/14 years 100m Breaststoke saw Jessica Gillatt (SAS) finish in 10th place with her first PB of the weekend and Heidi Smith (Arm) right behind her for a new PB of 1:21.20.

Alex Pollard (Arm) and Mark Beech (Spa) competed in the 11/12 yr boys 100m Backstroke. Alex finished 3rd while Mark missed out on his NQT by just under 2sec. In the open age Max had the pleasure of racing Team GB's Liam "The Tank" Tancock. What an honour for a young man from Donny Dartes, how would Max's nerves hold out with the British Record holder just two lanes away? Would he feel phased by the "The Tank"? No way! Max finished 3rd which meant another final for him later that morning.

In the 11/12 years boys 200m Butterfly Alex won his second Bronze of the weekend. An awesome 18sec PB to touch in 2:33.81. Time for the morning's finals, and Jess was straight in to action finishing 7th in the 100m Breaststroke. Next was Max contesting the 100m Backstroke, 4th place for him, with Liam Tancock predictably taking 1st place. Our last final of the morning was the younger boys in the same event: Joe finished 4th and George 7th both setting new PBs.

Time for lunch and a team talk with Coach Wallace, before the boys went round for the 200m IM. This time Max finished 2nd behind Team GB's local lad and Olympic hopeful Joe Roebuck currently based at Loughborough University. Now for those of you who like your history lessons and points of swimming trivia here's a couple for you about Joe Roe.

First up, those of you who've been around Yorkshire swimming for a while, may well remember the days when Joe would regularly face off against our very own James Male (Arm) currently number 17 on our all time medal table. Now that's going back a few years, but that's the point, despite numerous defeats at the hands of James (and no doubt the other way round too) he kept going and today is one of the World's top medley swimmers. The lesson to take from that: don't quit when you hit those multi-age categories and winning becomes tough!

And now for our point of Joe Roe trivia. You'll all be aware of the Michael Phelps computer game "Push the Limit" on Kinect. Well we're pretty sure that what you didn't know is that Joe was the great man's body double for the action in that game! How cool is that?

Anyway, back to the action and Jarvis also contested the 200m IM finishing 6th with a new PB.

Richard Lee (Spa) competed in the Boys Open 50m Free, with a time of 25.28, agonisingly close to his first NQT of the year, just 0.36sec off. Jarvis secured a place in yet another final, this time the 100m Butterfly for NQT number 5, and down an age Alex collected the silver medal.

200m Back 13/14 yrs George Scatchard (Spa) finished 5th with a time of 2.19.84 new PB and 0.69sec away from his NQT. In the 15/over we saw Max finish in 4th place with a new PB and another British Champs QT. Well done to you both. The last event of the day was the Boys 13/14 years 100m Butterfly final where Jarvis finished 9th.

It was a late finish but everyone was back on poolside Sunday morning feeling refreshed after a good nights sleep. First swimmer to qualify for the finals on Sunday was Shannon Dodson (Adw) in the 13/14yrs 200m IM, finishing 7th in her heat. Shannon also just missed out on the final of the 100m Backstroke finishing in 12th place. Chloe Hardy (Adw) also competed in this event and set a new PB by over 1sec.

In the Boys 13/14 100m Breaststroke we saw Jarvis (8th) and Joe (10th) qualifying for the final, Oswald Hood (Adw) finished 8th in the 11/12 years event. 11/12 years Boys 200m Freestyle saw PBs for both Mark and Robert Kirk (Spa) nice one boys. In the Open 50m Backstroke Max collected the silver medal. 13/14 years Boys 200m Fly saw both Joe and Jarvis qualify for the final, Jarvis with his 6th NQT and Joe missing out by just 1.78 sec. It was a nail biting finish with Jarvis touching at 2.21.22 and Joe 2.21.38 Last event of the morning session was the 13/14 years Boys 100m Breaststoke, with Jarvis finishing 7th and Joe 10th.

Last session of the afternoon and the swimmers were still in goods spirits. Team Manager Pete was keeping Captain Kirk and Gill Clarke entertained by playing paper ball tennis with them. Don't worry Gill, we haven't forgot about you. Shannon was smiling as she stood at the blocks waiting for the 13/14 final of the 200m IM. Shannon finished in 7th place and a new pb of 2.28.64.

In the 13/14 years Girls 400m Freestyle we saw Caitlin Dixon (Arm) finishing in 5th place for a new pb 4.33.57 and Natasha Crow (SAS) 4.33.57 for another. Next at the blocks were Alex Pollard and Robert Kirk in the 11/12 years 100m Free. Both gaining new PBs and 8th place for Alex. Oliver Richardson (Edl) and Jarvis competed in the next age group. Oliver getting a 3sec PB and Jarvis finishing 10th to secure a place in the final. But let's not forget NQT number 7!

11/12 years 200m Backstroke saw Alex finish 3rd and Mark 10th, a second and a bit off his NQT. Inching ever closer, hopefully he can drum up the determination in both events at Yorkshires. Jess came 12th in the 13/14 years 200m Breaststoke also with a new pb of 2.55.00. In the same age group for the boys Joe finished 10th with a new pb of 2.48.51 and Jarvis 7th also with a pb 2.42.96 to set a long course NQT to back up the short course one he set earlier in the season. In the final of 13/14 Boys 100 Free Jarvis finished in 10th place.

We must not forget our youngest swimmer competing at this meet Gillian Clarke (Arm) Gill competed in 3 events over the weekend: Her highlight was the 200m Backstroke where she finished 5th with nearly a 10sec PB. Gill's other two swims were in the sprint Backstroke and Breaststroke, where she also got set new PBs. Well done Gill. A big well done to everyone and not forgetting a big thank you to Head Coach Andy and Team Manager Pete for taking care of our athletes poolside.

Double Header Weekend (part 1)

14 Jan: Looking forward at the first meet of the year...

The first Dartes double header of the year saw members of Phase 4 and 5 heading south to Ponds Forge for the City of Derby Level 1 meet and a sizeable contingent of JDS and Phase 4 (with a couple of Phase 5 sneaking along) headed north to the Harrogate Janus A/B meet. While those lucky so-and-so's at Ponds Forge were hob nobbing with Olympic finalists and World Record holders, our northern possé went about their usual work: winning medals and smashing PBs. With this being the last chance for Yorkshire Qualifying Times, there was everything to swim for.

Star of the show - Katie Star of the show - Josh And swim they did!
Recent birthday girl, Laura Brookes (Edl), took the 11 year old age group by storm and gained a well deserved speeding ticket in the 400m Freestyle to kick off the Dartes campaign on Saturday morning. A bronze for Eleanor Vodden (Min) in the same event started her weekend with a bang, and it was only to get better! A set of Silvers followed in the 50m Breaststroke for Holly Brookes (Edl), Georgia Stead (Adw), and Harry Butterworth (Adw). Yet more Silvers for Lucy Clarke (Ros) and Rebecca Allen (Drn) in the 50m Freestyle, while Lauren Heywood (Min) took Gold for the 11 year olds. Bradley Hurdiss (Drn) started his weekend with a 5th placing in the 50m Freestyle but there was more from him to come. Silvers for Harry and Katie Pendlebury (Ros) flowed in the 200 Freestyle; with Katie setting the first of many PBs to see her dominate her age group over the course of the weekend.

The 200m Backstroke saw Laura take silver while Lily Metcalfe (Spa) and Eleanor were the golden girls for the 12 year olds cleaning up in the A and B grade respectively with Molly Butterworth (Adw) sneaking in for the B grade Bronze.

Saturday afternoon more of the same with 11 year old Olivia Drury (Don) winning gold in the 100m Breaststroke (despite quite a nasty illness) with Chloe Key (Min) only a fraction behind to take the Bronze and Grace Litchfield (Min) another Bronze winner in the B grade. Holly had another almighty tussle with Harrogate's Rachael Ellis in the 13 year old event, but she bravely hung on to take the Gold after a very close fought race. Georgia made another mark on the medal tally with a Bronze in the 14 year old age group with Rhiannon Hill (Spa) taking the Silver an age group up. And that was just in the first event of the afternoon.

First medals with Dartes for Olivia The success continued with a well deserved Silver for Harry in the boys event. Katie pulled out another fantastic swim to win the 13 year old girls 200 IM, while the 200m Butterfly saw Laura take the Silver and Lily take the Bronze an age group up with Josh Reasbeck (Edl) winning the Bronze in the boys event. Another Gold for Holly in the 50m Butterfly with Rhiannon taking the Silver for the 15 and overs. Lucy Clarke took Gold in the same event for the 10 year olds with Chloe and Michelle Bellamy (Edl) taking the Silver and Bronze respectively for the 11 year olds with Lily taking the Gold for the 12 year olds. 9 year old Bradley stepped up once more for the boys and a Silver was his reward in the A grade. More medals for Laura in the 100m Freestyle with a Bronze, Michelle also took Bronze in the B grade while Lily and Rebecca Christmas (Arm) made it a 2-3 for the 12 year olds taking Silver and Bronze in the same event. The on-form Katie managed another sensational silver in the same event for the 13 year olds and Josh replying for the boys with a Bronze.

Another sensational swim from Katie saw her take the Silver in the 200m Butterfly and Rhiannon Hill followed it with a Silver for the 15 and overs.

Sunday morning started with the girls 400m Freestyle, and fresh from her success on the Saturday, Katie set out to make her mark on day two. She led from the start in her heat to secure a stunning PB and the Silver medal. A gutsy swim from Kathryn Shepheard (Adw) saw her take the Bronze in the B grade. The 200m Breaststroke saw Grace and Olivia take Silver and Bronze for the 11 year olds with Lily taking the Gold for the 12s. A stunning Breaststroke swim from Eleanor saw her just miss out on the medals but it gained her a fantastic PB (even if she did complain that she couldn't breathe after it!) Once again, that girl Katie stepped up for the 50m Freestyle and secured another Gold with a sub 31sec swim. The 50m Backstroke saw Chloe Hill (Don) win the Gold for the 9 year olds, with Lucy taking the Silver for the 10s; Laura won the Gold for the 11s and Lily the Silver for the 12s. Bradley replied with an awesome speeding ticket for the 9 year old boys. Continuing from our girls 200m Backstroke success yesterday, the 13 and over girls replied with a Gold for Kathryn and a Bronze for Holly. More success in the 100m Butterfly with another Gold for Laura and a well deserved silver for Chloe Key in the 11 year olds. The older pairing of Katie and Josh also swam superb 100m Butterfly to take both Golds in their age group too.

And onto the final session on Sunday afternoon. Could Dartes continue their winning ways? The first event, the girls 200m Freestyle saw Lucy and Tilly Arrand (SAS) take Gold and Silver for the 10 year olds (A grade) with more Golds for Rebecca and Eleanor in the B. A fantastic start girls!

Welcome back Rhiannon What about the boys?
Josh kick-started his afternoon with Gold in the 200m Freestyle while Harry took the Gold in the boys 50m Backstroke. There was a Silver for Laura in the 200m IM and a Bronze for Grace, while for the 12 year olds, Rebecca Heywood (Min) showed us yet again what a superb medley swimmer she is with a big PB and a Gold medal in the 200m event after an awesome swim.

A joy to watch.

Brad again showed what he is capable of with a storming display in the 200m IM winning by a large margin over his nearest rival. A thrilling 200m Breaststroke saw Holly edged into Bronze position while Katie swum another huge PB. Harry replied for the boys with a lifetime best in the 200m Breaststroke dipping under the 3min mark in what was a very determined swim. A Gold in the 50m Breaststroke for Michelle was followed by Gold for Molly and Bronze for Lily. Brad won another Bronze for the 9 year olds, missing out on the Silver by a mere 0.01! Josh was rewarded for his efforts with the Silver.

So, the last event, the 100m Backstroke. Dartes have proved to be pretty handy over the weekend when it comes to backstroke. Any chance of a few more medals after a long weekend? Well since you ask ...

Immediate double Golds for the 11 year olds with, yes you've guessed it, Laura taking the spoils in the A grade and Lauren doing the same in the B grade closely followed by Olivia who snatched the Bronze. For the 12s, a Silver for Rebecca Heywood and for the 13s, a Bronze to add to the weekend's treasure chest for Katie. In the last swim of the day, a Bronze came Harry's way in the boys event.

So all in all a good weekend of fast swimming, plenty of thrills and spills and medals and PBs by the bucket load.
Who needs 'em!

Millfield England Talent Camp

13 Jan: The observant among you would have noticed the absence of Max Litchfield (Spa) from the training lanes a week ago. He had the honour of attending a week long British Swimming talent camp at the prestigious Millfield School. Here he is to tell you all about it.

The Postman on Level 3 Talent Camp

The week commenced with a long 4 hour drive down to Millfield School, for a five day intense training camp with some of the top swimmers and coaches in the country. The week consisted of 18 hours of pool based work and 4 hours of land based work.

We arrived at around 1 o'clock at the Keens Elm boarding house after driving around for 10 minutes looking for the place. That gives you a little bit of an idea about how big this school is! Millfield School is a sports based school/college with everything ranging from hockey fields to an Equestrian centre and Golf course - it also has its own 50m swimming pool!

On arrival we were accompanied by teammates and coaches. I had been roomed with Alex Dunk from Prescot SC who I havn't been roomed with before but we got on well. After a quick lunch we went straight into a pool session, all of the swimmers were split into groups based on their main events. I was put into the Backstroke group with Jamie Maine from Nova Centurion, there were 4 other coaches there from different clubs across the country. However the Head Coach on the camp was Russ Barber from City Of Sheffield. I had Jamie as my coach on the last camp in Coventry so we were already acquainted, I got on very well during the week with Jamie and we communicated well together to improve my skills and techniques.

The Postman - Always Delivering Throughout the week we did a variety of sessions some focussing on skills and techniques around starts and turns and some much harder sessions focussed on speed and endurance. We did around 5 very hard sessions during the week including 1 kick set, 2 Race Pace Sets and 1 HR set. Every day we had an hour gym session in the sports hall based on plyometrics work with the camps strength and conditioning coach. After this session we had downtime which we spent in our rooms catching up on sleep or just relaxing, or we would have a nutrition session with Martin McDonald and Andrew Shepherd.

In the nutrition sessions we were given a certain scenario and we had to go to the local Sainsbury's and pick a suitable snack that would fit that scenario. This was very informative as over the week it gave everyone a good idea about which foods are good to be eating, when to be eating them, and also gave us some background to why those foods were good.

On the Friday after our land based session we were lucky enough to have Triple Olympian Sarah Price come to talk to us about Team Building. We did several tasks in 2 groups which got everyone involved and made sure everyone felt as if they were part of the team. This was a very good experience and has really helped me as a swimmer getting advice from such a high profile swimmer.

Overall the week was a good success and I have learnt a great deal, from the swimming side of things all the way to nutrition and team building. I will bring all I have learnt home with me to training and use it to hopefully improve my swimming and my career. It was a very good week which I thoroughly enjoyed and I am very much looking forward to our Training Camp in Torremolinos in April.

I also earned the name 'The Postman', work that one out?

[According to the comment Jamie left in Max's logbook, it goes something along the lines of: "You are The Postman ... You're always delivering!" Who said Coaches don't have a sense of humour?]

Coach Wallace on Level 2 Talent Camp

Coach Wallace was also away on Talent Camp duty last weekend. In his case, it was a level 2 in Manchester.

England Talent level 3 which Max attended is about providing the knowledge and confidence needed to help athletes move their swimming career on to the next stage. The higher up you go on the swimming pathway the greater the impact of strength and conditioning, psychology, and nutrition. The athletes also get the opportunity to work with vastly experienced coaches and experience new ways of doing things. It is an opportunity for athletes to gauge their current strengths and weaknesses against swimmers they will no doubt be competing against throughout the season.

England Talent level 2 in Manchester 6th-8th January included 5 sessions being a weekend based camp a time when swimmers normally have a rest period the emphasis was on strke efficiency with 1 race pace session, 1 kick session, 1 filming session and 2 aerobic. I was lucky enough to be given the IM group for this and the final camp (in Sunderland) which consisted of five enthusiastic, motivated swimmers who did an excellent job throughout the weekend.

The filming session was interesting as it gave the swimmers an opportunity to review the quality of their work. On this camp we focussed on the start and the turns. It is always interesting hearing swimmers critique their performance, as they often list a number of things they could have done better but never mention the things they did well. After viewing a number of interviews with top coaches they often say that the best athletes are the ones that can coach themselves. An awareness of where improvements can be made and how you would go about correcting them is an important tool for any up and coming swimmer.

It is important that swimmers take ownership of their swimming careers and don't just rely on coaches who often have so many swimmers that things can sometimes be overlooked. If something doesn't feel right or you're not sure, ask your coach to have a look or film it (if possible) and work together to correct the fault.

The land work was very similar to the exercises practiced on the level 3 and was lead by the same strength and conditioning coach from the English Institue of Sport Nick Chadd. It was based on plyometrics and focussed on leg exercises, lunging squats, and basics of jumping and landing. All of which are important for improving starts, turns, increasing leg power and core stability.

It was interesting to note the large range of ability in performing these basic exercises. It was obvious to spot the swimmers who perform land work to a high level within their home programmes, due to the level of control and bodily awareness displayed when performing each movement.

Important for Dartes swimmers: The attitude towards land work is often varied amongst swimmers. As things progress, growth spurts end and improvements get harder to come by, athletes realise that Strength and Conditioning is as important as anything that we do in the pool. Unfortunately for some, this realisation comes too late, and then they have to try and play catch up without having the solid foundation that many other swimmers have had. It makes things very difficult! Treat everything that you do as another opportunity to develop and improve your physical capability and be open to new experiences and challenges.

That's what makes sport exciting: there is always something new to try that can seperate you from the pack.

The final camp on the level 2 is mid-week, Tuesday to Thursday, in Sunderland around easter. It should be a more intense camp and will again provide the swimmers with some new challenges and tools to help them progress in the final few months leading towards their end of season meet.

The Boys Takeover 2x800

10 Jan: With Georgia Stead (Adw) and Georgia Wright (Arm) moving up to Phase 5 this month, Tuesday night's 2x800m test was always going to be one for the boys, and so it proved. But this time a further challenge was set. Not just swim the two reps fast, but also skillfully. The Stroke Counts Phase 4 have been working on since before Christmas should be increasing distance per stroke (hard to count strokes and keep track of lengths swum over 800m though). Underwater Fly kick out of turns was also present from many: Josh Reasbeck (Edl) and Courtney Massey (Edl) the most obvious standard setters on that front, with 6m turns not uncommon.

The job of pace setting was left, as always, to Robert Kirk (Spa) who could never quite open up a gap between himself and Josh. Hot on his heels throughout, Josh knocked off over a minute from his previous best to bring himself in sight of joining the sub-11min club - remember, it's the average that counts!

The two new girls performed well too. Interesting to see how the inexperienced back off on rep 1, unsure of how hard to attack. Next time girls, the first one needs to be swum flat-out, there's plenty of rest between them to back it up strongly on number 2. Iona Holdsworth (Adw) laid down a marker for future attempts, 12:38 is an excellent first attempt. Is there a distance freestyler in her future? Rebecca Christmas (Arm) also recorded a strong first attempt, she should see her average dive below 13mins next time!

Pos Name Date 400m 800m 400m 800m Avg All Time
1 Joshua Reasbeck 10 Jan 2012 5:14 10:54 5:23 11:10 11:02 3 (3)
13 Sep 2011 5:47 12:00 5:40 12:05 12:02
2 Robert Kirk 10 Jan 2012 5:15 10:55 5:26 11:14 11:04 4 (2)
6 Dec 2011 5:13 10:50 5:20 11:08 10:59
13 Sep 2011 5:23 11:19 5:46 12:06 11:42
3 Katie Pendlebury 10 Jan 2012 5:37 11:39 5:45 11:57 11:48 9 (9)
13 Sep 2011 5:37 11:52 6:20 12:12 12:02
4 Rebecca Heywood 10 Jan 2012 5:38 11:50 5:39 11:59 11:54 10 (8)
6 Dec 2011 5:30 11:43 5:40 11:52 11:47
13 Sep 2011 12:18 5:49 12:20 12:19
5 Kathryn Shepheard 10 Jan 2012 5:42 12:05 5:51 12:09 12:07 13 (6)
6 Dec 2011 6:26 11:58 6:29 11:50 11:54
13 Sep 2011 5:37 11:52 5:29 11:29 11:40
6 Lily Metcalfe 10 Jan 2012 5:53 12:25 6:00 12:05 12:15 13 (13)
13 Sep 2011 5:58 12:32 6:10 12:53 12:42
7 Mathew Jubb 10 Jan 2012 5:46 12:14 6:00 12:30 12:22 14 (14)
6 Dec 2011 5:58 12:28
13 Sep 2011 13:05 7:35 13:43 13:24
8 Oswald Hood 10 Jan 2012 5:55 12:16 6:03 12:30 12:23 15 (15)
6 Dec 2011 5:53 12:38 6:19 13:20 12:59
13 Sep 2011 12:26 6:03 12:31 12:28
9 Joseph Gatus 10 Jan 2012 5:56 12:24 6:04 12:31 12:27 16 (16)
6 Dec 2011 6:17 12:54 6:21 12:40 12:47
13 Sep 2011 12:35 6:10 12:53 12:44
10 Laura Brookes 10 Jan 2012 5:40 12:11 5:45 12:44 12:27 16 (10)
6 Dec 2011 6:26 11:47 6:33 12:02 11:54
13 Sep 2011 12:34 6:06 12:40 12:37
11 Lauren Heywood 10 Jan 2012 6:12 12:52 6:15 12:55 12:53 22 (19)
6 Dec 2011 6:28 12:34 6:18 12:30 12:32
13 Sep 2011 13:15 13:00 13:07
12 Iona Holdsworth 10 Jan 2012 6:16 13:09 6:02 12:38 12:53 22 (22)
13 Grace Litchfield 10 Jan 2012 6:10 12:52 6:10 12:57 12:54 23 (23)
13 Sep 2011 7:13 13:20 13:55 13:37
14 Lauren Jarvis 10 Jan 2012 6:10 12:57 6:12 12:59 12:58 24 (24)
6 Dec 2011 6:14 13:00 6:16 12:57 12:58
13 Sep 2011 7:30 13:29 13:22 13:25
15 Courtney Massey 10 Jan 2012 6:10 12:55 6:11 13:01 12:58 24 (21)
6 Dec 2011 6:16 12:54 6:18 12:44 12:49
13 Sep 2011 7:35 13:50 7:42 14:02 13:56
16 Lucy Clarke 10 Jan 2012 6:06 12:55 6:16 13:02 12:58 26 (20)
6 Dec 2011 6:11 12:50 6:10 12:46 12:48
13 Sep 2011 13:22 13:54 13:38
17 Caitlin Feirn 10 Jan 2012 6:22 13:01 6:15 12:59 13:00 26 (17)
13 Sep 2011 5:58 12:24 6:00 12:35 12:29
18 Rebecca Christmas 10 Jan 2012 6:18 13:15 6:09 13:12 13:13 26 (27)
19 Gillian Clarke 10 Jan 2012 6:35 13:27 6:27 13:20 13:23 30 (30)
6 Dec 2011 6:28 13:36 6:35 14:11 13:53
20 Molly Butterworth 10 Jan 2012 6:18 13:22 6:23 14:09 13:45 33 (33)
21 Chloe Key 10 Jan 2012 6:28 13:05 6:48 14:28 13:46 34 (28)
6 Dec 2011 6:25 13:05 6:37 13:23 13:14
13 Sep 2011 7:29 14:02 7:29 14:00 14:01
Click on the name to expand previous results

We've added a new column this month to show where everyone ranks on the all time (since September) Phase 4 test set history. The first number shows where this swim is placed, the 2nd number shows where the athlete's fastest average places them. So this pair of performances gives Josh the 3rd fastest average ever in this set. Robert still has the 2nd fastest average of all time from his December attempt, but Tuesday night's effort was only 4th fastest of all time.

Judging by this attempt by Rebecca Heywood (Min) squeezing in to 10th position, anyone looking at being in the top 10 of all time needs to be under 12mins! Get working hard before next time.

Not that we're suggesting anything about anyone, but here's a lovely tweet from Julie Stupp (@SwimJules). For those who don't know her, she's the only woman in history to compete in the NCAA (US College Sport) at both Swimming and Track and Field and is likely to be on the US Olympic team in London.

""Wussy: (n) a person who's pursuit of excellence is eclipsed by a lack of discipline and drive." 200 days to London!"

First Club Visit of 2012

Coaches Visit Sharks 8 Jan: 7am Sunday morning saw Coach Dave and Coach Kevin hop over to Epworth to meet new Sharks' Chairman Tim Jackson.

We have a few more club visits pencilled in for Jan/Feb so watch this space.

End of Year Club Distribution - Swim21 Pathways

1 Jan: It's that time of the year where we take a look at numbers again. Having just finished another super-successful year for Dartes the big question for 2012 becomes: "How do we grow bigger so we can compete with the big city teams who have 8, 9, or maybe 10 times the number of swimmers to select from?" With that in mind we're going to talk size in the context of Swim21 Pathways and see just how things can be improved over the next 12 months.

Swim21 Means Being Athlete Centred

Swim21 is based on Sport England's Clubmark model and it's the ASA's quality mark for clubs. It's all about improving the way we run our clubs and encourages an Athlete Centred approach rather than the traditional Club Centred approach. Being Athlete Centred is all about encouraging athletes to progress to the level that best suits their ambition and helping them to achieve their ultimate goal. That can often involve moving away from a familiar club to a more challenging environment. The athlete centred coach recognises the benefits in that and encourages the move for the good of the athlete.

By contrast, being club centred promotes the idea that a club can provide everything for everyone. Up to a point that may well be true, but it takes a very big club (we're talking in the range of 1,000 members) to provide the kind of environment that can consistently produce top class athletes. A club centred organisation encourages athletes to stay at the club, even if that means limiting their development or dampening their ambition.

In recognition of the lack of these 1,000+ member clubs in the UK, and the more common occurrence of small clubs in relatively close proximity (like Doncaster), Swim21 promotes the idea of clubs grouping together to provide a performance training environment that can match the ones enjoyed by the bigger clubs. That environment isn't just about pool time, it's also about having consistent coaching and even more importantly, a bunch of equally ambitious, highly focused athletes, training side-by-side day-in and day-out, feeding off the positive energy of those around them. In addition to the day-to-day training environment, the combined resources of multiple small clubs can match the larger clubs for top coaching and team management support while away at weekend open meets where individually they would struggle to do the same for just 4 or 5 of their own athletes.

Which is kind of how Doncaster has been operating for the past few decades, and never more so than today. Look at the club distribution at Dartes below. It suggests that with enough young swimmers feeding in to Phase 1-3 early enough, the numbers per club in the higher phases should be fairly even. Consider the type of competition required by those in Phase 5. They're usually at a different level to the ones needed by those in Phase 4. While JDS swimmers usually need another bunch of competitions at yet another level. Difficult for individual clubs to adequately support just 4 or 5 of their own swimmers at open meets, let alone provide the right training environment for so few. As a joint effort between all 10 clubs though, Doncaster Swimming comfortably hits that 1,000 swimmer threshold and thus can, and does, provide that performance environment.

All of that was clearly a contributing factor to putting together the DMasa training scheme way back in the 1970s (the Dartes name would come later). A group of forward thinking, athlete centred coaches and club officials decided to pool resources for the common good. Kudos to them for being nearly 30 years ahead of the game. That's not entirely true of course, the club teams of Leeds had begun exactly the same process a few years earlier. Most of their feeder clubs still exist, but the combined, pooled resource, central programme became the most successful team in British Swimming history and is one of those big city teams we compete against!

1Adwick 26+2 4 9 +2 13
2Armthorpe 19 +7 5 +2 3 +1 11 +4
3Minsthorpe 13 +2 5 +5 8 -3
4Spa Askern 10 -6 5 3 -4 2 -2
5Edlington 8 2 +1 4 +1 2 -2
6South Axholme 5 -2 2 1 -1 2 -1
7=Rossington 3 -3 3 +1 -4
7=Don Valley 3 +2 1 +1 2 +1
9=Dearne Valley 2 +2 2 +2
9=Thorne 2 +1 2 +2
Total 91 +5 18 +3 29 +6 44 -4
End of Year 2011, Club Distribution and annual difference

Promoting Swim21 Pathways

To make the transition from club swimming to those combined resource, high performance training schemes as smooth as possible, Swim21 strongly promotes the idea of well defined pathways from learn-to-swim all the way through to performance swimming. All Swim21 accredited clubs have formally identified their place on such a pathway and are committed to promoting the sign posts to the next level. It ensures that every athlete in every club has a clearly defined route to achieving their ultimate goal from the moment they take their first plunge into a swimming pool.

But as we all know, pathways don't work just because something formally declares their existence. Pathways only work when enough people are told it's a good route to take; and that's something everyone can help with. The challenge for all of us in 2012, no matter what level of swimming you're involved with, is to do just that. Help to polish the sign posts, weed the pathways and chop back the overgrowth so everyone can easily find their way to where they need to be. It's not just about promoting the performance programme to young club swimmers, it also means promoting club swimming to those in isolated learn-to-swim groups, and promoting the sport of swimming to those parents who haven't even begun thinking about their kids learning to swim.

Promoting pathways isn't something that happens without action! You're either actively promoting it, or you're hiding it - there is no middle ground. Advertising your club with posters in local shops and schools, or talking to swim schools about how they can feed swimmers in to your club (the next level) are all ways to actively promote the pathway to your club; waiting for new members to find their own way is effectively hiding the pathway.

Similarly with the pathway to Dartes. Looking at the list above, can you spot the clubs with a Head Coach-led policy of promoting the pathway to Dartes? Hint: you don't need to look too far down the list. It's always best for a club to be led by the Head Coach of course, but you don't need to go much further down the list before finding a club where a parent or group of parents adopt the role of Pathway Promoter instead. Both methods working together would be ideal, and the club's Swim21 Accreditation Portfolio will certainly sparkle from the bulging evidence of your shiny, well kempt pathways.

It doesn't matter whether you're a big club of 200+, or a smaller club of less than 100, there are examples of each in the top 4. Not so long ago, one such example had approximately 25% of their total membership training at Dartes. Off the back of that they managed to win division 1 of the Pocklington Times League 3 years straight and amass enough points at the DMasa Championships to lift that trophy too, all despite a membership in the 90s - inclusive of their teaching groups! They also contributed an entire team of boys that represented Doncaster at National Teams.

Promote magnanimously and promote young, that would seem to be the winning formula.

When coaches actively promote pathways big things tend to happen and success follows quickly if committees back them up. Small clubs can go from the bottom of the table to the top half with just a little effort, and their gala performances will improve year on year as a result. It's disappointing then, that despite easily surpassing that important 1,000 combined membership within Doncaster Swimming (probably closer to 1,600), our pathways are still struggling to inspire even 100 young athletes to aim for the top. On average, that's less than 10 per club and much less than 10% which would be a worthy target.
Something clearly isn't working!
In 2012 we all need to do what we can to fix it.

Always remember:
Be athlete centred.
Challenge and inspire your athletes to be the best they can be, even when that involves stepping up the ladder - never let them settle for anything less. Isn't that what coaching is all about? And to borrow a favourite phrase from that Leeds team we mentioned earlier:
T ogether
E veryone
A chieves
M ore

Happy New Year.