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News July 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

Top Club Contest at Age-Group Nationals

26 Jul: It's been a long time since we had any interest looking at the Top Club competition at Nationals, but we're back! We brought you the table from Mens Youth Nationals earlier this month where we finished equal 7th - and the lone non-long course programme in the top 7 at that! Well in the age-group competition we finished 15th overall, but that only tells half the story. Here's the real message, on the boys points table:

2Co Birmingham104
3Barnet Copthall99
4Stockport Metro88
5Donc Dartes87
6Warrington Warriors83
8Co Sheffield67
Boys Age-Group Medal Table

If 5th isn't good enough for you, notice also that we're the highest finishing club from the North East! A very successful Nationals campaign then. You can read all about it in Nationals Rollercoaster, an inside look at the week for "Our Greatest Team".

Dartes finish 16th at Youth Nationals

23 Jul: It's official, the medal table for National Youth Championships has the Dartes team finishing 16th overall and 3rd best of the North East behind City of Leeds and City of Sheffield. Obviously that's down to the Gold and 2 Silvers won by Max Litchfield (Spa) which puts us a brilliant 7th in the mens medal table, equal with City of Manchester Aquatics based at the Commonwealth Games facility which boasts two 50m pools! In fact, with the possible exception of Hatfield, all the other teams in the top 7 train in Long Course facilities.

1Plymouth Lea911
3Co Sheffield3 2
4Co Liverpool22 
5Lincoln Vulc2  
7=Donc Dartes12 
7=Co Manch Aq12 
Mens Youth Medal Table

Youth Gold It might have been Max winning the medals (as a 17 year old in the 17/18 year double age band) but he was joined by 7 team mates through the week for the strongest Dartes team at Youth Championships on record! At this level, a club's medal tally is usually contributed by just 1 or 2 stand-out individuals, only the huge clubs have a handful of athletes capable of contributing, but it's the training environment generated by everyone else in the club that allows those stand-out performers to flourish and encourages everyone else to rise to a similar level. Every single swimmer, parent, coach, and club official at Dartes has contributed to the environment that made Max's medal winning performances possible - keep up the good work next season and lets see a few more step up to finals.

It's important to note (because it doesn't happen accidentally) that at Youth Championships athletes jump from single year age bands to double year as preparation for the Senior ranks where everyone is thrown together. It's monumentally soul destroying to go from winning medals or reaching finals as an age-grouper, to suddenly find yourself up against a decade worth of talent older than yourself in senior competition. So Youth Championships paves the way and prepares you for that.

This is the age where it really starts to count. Age group competition is all about who grew the fastest, who started swimming the earliest, or who ignored their coach's advice and added a couple of extra sessions in each week; it's not a true reflection of ability. Youths is where everyone catches up. The late developers have arrived, the late starters have had chance to catch up, and those doing more than they were supposed to find out the hard way why the coach told them not to (and usually quit)!

On the flip side, it's also where those "talented" kids who cruised through age groups winning everything without doing the training, get found out and start to struggle.

Yep, it's a fun time!

In short, those who start to shine at Youths are generally the ones who've done exactly what their coaches have asked for over the past 5 or 6 years and can be expected to be challenging in the Senior ranks when they arrive there too.

So for our 8 competing at Youth Nationals, congratulations first of all for getting this far. For the girls who've only just aged up over the past couple of months (or on the last day of competition for one of them) it was always going to be a challenge. Nevertheless, challenge accepted.

The Girls Youth Team Two Semi-Finals (200m IM, 200m Freestyle) and a 13th placed finish in 400m IM (no Semi-Finals for the big medley) marked a successful, if rather exhausting, week for Caitlin Dixon (Arm). Nothing like 3,100m of racing (plus warm up, swim down, etc) during a week to leave you wrecked. Her week competing as a 15 year old against 16 year olds included all 3 Animal Squad events plus a few more to boot.

You think 3,100m sounds like a lot of racing? It really is.
But it's still only about half of the round 6,000m Max contested!
Between them then 9,100m of actual racing, plus God only knows how much more from warm-up and swim down during the week. [Update: Coach Wallace calculates in excess of 48,000m swum in total for Max alone]

Not quite such a demanding schedule for the others. Jessica Gillatt (SAS) squeezed out a 100m Breaststroke PB as part of her 700m of racing her first individual National events. Birthday girl Shannon Dodson (Adw) beat her total by 50m and also set a small PB in 200m Backstroke. Jamie Clarke (Arm) swam within 0.2s of his 100m Backstroke best in the individual and to lead off the Medley team, and Richard Lee (Spa) just sneaked in to the competition (50m Freestyle) since dramatically cutting back his training after last year's Championships. He also provided strong performances in the team events.

Along just for the teams, Heidi Smith (Arm), Elliot Trofimowicz (Spa) and Torin Wilson (Arm) came in for praise from Head Coach Andrew Wallace for beating Long Course PBs on their splits. In such a high pressure environment, when you haven't had a heat swim of your own to soak in the atmosphere, and the team is relying on you to deliver, it's a tough task, but all three proved equal to it. Jess also managed to pull out all the stops to split a full second under her Breaststroke PB in the Medley team.

For pretty much our entire Youth team, we'll see what they can do when they're among the oldest in their double year age band next season. For now, a good job done by all and a well deserved summer break to top up the tan and dry out a little.

Fast Turns, but Improvement Required

10 Jul: Last Tuesday saw Phase 4 attack the turns test for the second time. We're in that part of the season where speed is of the essence, and we've spent most of the past week increasing the speed of rotation on tumble turns with a view to placing feet on the wall much more quickly. The objective is to take less than 1sec from final hand entry to feet on the wall. An average of around 1.3sec means most of you have 0.3s to save on every single turn just by rotating quicker (add those up for yourselves).

This set came too early in the week to see much improvement in that area though, but 3 turns rotating 0.3s faster will knock off almost a full second! As stated last month, 20sec is the standard to strive for on this test, so our leaders need to find 2sec somewhere. We'll see how things progress next season.

For now though we have a pretty good starting point. Robert Kirk (Spa) set the time to beat with an average of 22.0. There are plenty chomping at his heels though. We'll be back after the summer to see who rises to the rotation challenge the best.

Pos Name Rep 1 Rep 2 Rep 3 Avg
1 Robert Kirk 22.1 21.9 22.2 22.0
2 Eleanor Vodden 22.4 22.3 22.5 22.4
3 Rebecca Heywood 22.6 22.7 23.1 22.8
4 Katie Pendlebury 22.9 23.7 22.3 22.9
5 Lauren Jarvis 24.8 23.6 23.2 23.8
6 Laura Brookes 24.1 24.3 23.5 23.9
7 Chloe Key 24.6 24.1 23.9 24.2
8 Oswald Hood 24.4 24.2 24.6 24.4
9 Rianna Hill 24.3 25.1 24.0 24.4
10 Amber Hardy 25.9 24.2 24.3 24.8
11 Rebecca Christmas 24.7 24.7 26.4 25.2
12 Mathew Jubb 25.3 25.9 25.3 25.5
13 Chantelle Waugh 25.5 26.4 24.8 25.5
14 Grace Litchfield 26.4 25.2 25.1 25.5
15 Georgia Whetton 25.8 25.6 25.4 25.6
16 Kara Mayos 26.0 25.6 26.2 25.9
17 Thomas Wilson 27.4 25.7 25.1 26.0
18 Tilly Arrand 26.6 26.3 26.3 26.4
19 Gillian Clarke 26.3 26.6 26.6 26.5
20 Lauren Heywood 26.3 27.3 26.4 26.6
21 Lucy Clarke 27.7 26.9 26.0 26.8
22 Taylor Hardy 28.0 30.0 29.9 29.3
23 Joshua Reasbeck 22.3 23.0

Yorkshire Takes Euro Medley by Storm

8 Jul: There's no doubt who was the star of the British team at European Junior Championships. The Golden boy from Yorkshire is used to sweeping all before him, his county rivals well used to the dominance that is Matthew Johnson. But behind him, in his customary quiet and understated way, Max Litchfield (Spa) continued his progression towards the senior ranks without a fuss, without fanfare, but leaving those who've followed his steadily rising star with just a tantalizing hint of what might be in store.

Spot the Yorkshireman European Junior Championships, regarded as the first great indicator of who might make it on the Senior circuit has seen many great champions-to-be pass through. A look at the championship record book highlights the meet's stature. Names like Deibler, Izotov, Agnel, Cseh, Halsall, Lippok, Efimova grace its pages (look out for those in London). British swimmers such as Lizzie Simmonds, Ellen Gandy, Walker-Hebborn, Robbie Renwick and Jess Dickons have all stood upon its podiums.

Swimming on the International stage starts here. Arrival at this meet states that you have survived the relentless battle of attrition that is age-group swimming, you've prospered in the youth ranks, now (as the yanks would say) you're a national teamer and have the kit to prove it!

We said last month that this is the meet all Dartes swimmers should ultimately aim for. It's the 5th step on the Championship pyramid for all of you. Don't limit yourself to just Nationals, many of you are capable of so much more.

1Yorkshire Championships
2NER Championships
3National Championships
4British Championships
5European Junior Championships

For this year there was Max (and former Dartes team mates Nic and Sophie). A place in the final of both Medleys as a 17 year old in the 17/18 double year age band. 6th in both with the promise of more to come in his 2nd year of eligibility. But that really sells short his achievements. What most won't realise is that in both events he achieved the FINA 'B' qualifying time for the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona! That's the real, full-blown, World Championships.

He won't make the GB team for World Champs this time round of course, but it's a rather massive achievement nonetheless!

Also good to see the rest of Yorkshire's contingent doing well. Nic qualified for the 400m IM final in 8th place in his final year of eligibility. Unfortunately he was barred from taking his place due to the two per nation rule (Matthew and Max qualifying ahead of him). Sophie on the other hand suffered no such restriction. It was her final year too, and she enjoyed Silver in the 50m Breaststroke, 6th in the 100m, and Bronze in the 200m behind Gold medallist Molly Renshaw who recently lost her appeal to be selected for the Olympics.

Well done to the Yorkshire quartet.

Blink and you'll miss it!

7 Jul: In training this morning we spoke a little about whipping the Breaststroke kick. Not the usual context when people talk whip kick, but rather about the speed the legs whip through the propulsive phase and back to a streamlined stretch. If you think about Breaststroke, it's really just a series of powerful explosions followed by a streamlined glide to get the most from the power. There's little point performing a kick action if the legs finish unstreamlined!

We've also spoken a lot about knee movement. With a good body position there should be minimal knee movement, with the thighs essentially staying fixed in place. It's the one kick where we encourage you to move only from the knees down. The less you break streamlining the better.

We mentioned Rebecca Soni (double Olympic Champion) as being an excellent example of whipping the feet back to a streamlined position quckly. You can see that speed on the under water shot (below) off the start. Minimal movement, then streamlined fast.

Also contrast how much Soni's knees move underneath her (lane 4) compared to Jessica Hardy (World Record holder in 5). Hardy's thighs stay pretty still (you can see that off the turn), maintaining that straight line from head to knees that we've been working on.

We've also talked a lot about finishes recently.
Never, never, ever glide in to the finish!
You might want to shout that at a certain someone at the end of this race.
If she does that in London, she won't be happy.

It's a skill like any other.
It's a choice whether you win with good finishes (like Phelps) or not.

You're never too old to learn new skills, so here's a little more Breaststroke for you. For those of you struggling to create lift at the front of the stroke, here's a different way to think about it courtesy of South Africa's Darian Townsend and Arizona Head Coach Eric Hansen:
- Breaststroke Lift

Dancing and Bling at Hull End of Season

7 Jul: Kingston upon Hull swimming club held their end of season meet on the weekend of the 30th June/1st July at the Ennerdale Leisure centre. Doncaster Dartes' girls made sure the spectators were kept entertained during the warm up sessions and lunch breaks. The Dancing Queens were up on their feet dancing to YMCA, Birdie Song etc. Bodyart was also on the cards for a number of swimmers.

In the first session of the day medals went to 9 year old Robyn Drury (Don) who came 3rd in the girls 50m Breaststroke and fellow 9 year old Oliver Vodden (Adw) who also earned Bronze in the 50m Backstroke. No big surprise who won Gold in the 12/13 Boys 200m Backstroke, nicely done Mark Beech (Spa). In that same age group the boys also contested 50 m Butterfly. It ended with a close finish between Robert Kirk (Spa) and Joseph Gatus (Spa), Robert taking Silver just 0.02s ahead of Joe for Bronze. Lucy Clarke (Ros) also collected the Bronze medal in the 100m Backstroke.

During the lunch break the girls were up dancing once again. This time they weren't alone, but were joined by Joe and Oliver. Grace Litchfield (Min) also demonstrated excellent skills with face paints by decorating two of her teammates with the DARTES logo. No one has ever seen Oliver sit so still for so long, but the resulting artwork on his back was definitely worth it.

Robyn finished in 5th place in the 9 yo girls 100m IM. In the boys 12/13 50m Freestyle Joe collected his 2nd medal of the meet, this time Gold, with Robert just missing out in 4th place. On form again in the 50m Breaststroke was Oliver claiming another Gold. In the boys 100m 12/13 yo Butterfly it was the battle of the Spa boys with Robert collecting Silver and Joe Bronze.

In the last event of the day, the girls 200m Butterfly, three girls decided they weren't going to miss this animal event no matter how tired they were. Tired from swimming that is, not all their dancing! Lauren Jarvis (SAS), Chloe Key (Min), and Lily Metcalfe (Spa) all swam in the same heat. Lauren led all the way and still managed to sprint the last 50m to collect the Silver medal for her tremendous effort.

First event of day two was the 9 year old boys 50m Freestyle were Oliver finished 2nd. This was quickly followed by the youngest girls and Robyn contesting the 50m Backstroke - finishing 4th. In the 200m Freestyle we saw Mark and Robert contesting the same heat again. They battled it out until the touch with Mark earning the Silver and Robert the Bronze, both with best times. Joe colleted his 2nd Gold of the meet in the 50m Breaststroke and in the same age group Mark wrapped up the Backstrokes with Gold number 2 in the 100m. In the last event of the morning, the rapidly improving Eleanor Vodden (Adw) narrowly missed out on her Short Course NER qualifying time by a measly 0.04s but took Gold by way of consolation in the 100m Breaststroke.

Eleanor was also the first to pick up a medal in the final session. She claims not to like the 200m Breaststroke, but she'd better get used to it. A Silver medal left her within 2sec of NER qualifying in that event too. In the same event Chloe just missed out on the medals (4th) after a fabulous 16sec PB to leave her even closer to the December meet.

Oliver continued his winning ways, with yet another Gold in the 100m IM and Silver in the 50m Butterfly. Joe made it a golden hat-trick in the 50m Backstroke. Robyn brought an end to her first meet with a Silver medal in the 50m Breaststroke. Robert collected Silver in the 100m Freestyle after putting up a good fight against the swimmer in lane 6, again it came down to the touch. Lucy finished her meet with Silver in 100m Butterfly. The last event of the meet was the boys animal event, the 200m Butterfly. Captain Kirk was the only competitor for DARTES. It was a close race all the way with Robert collecting Bronze and PB.

Well done to all swimmers and a big thank you to Team Managers Pete and Jane, and Coaches Dave and Blaine. For the full list of results, check out our results archive.

English Schools Inter-Divisional Championships 2012

1 Jul: Over the weekend the Liverpool Aquatic Centre hosted the 62nd Inter-Divisional ESSA Championships, and three members of our 2012 National Squad were selected for the North East team across 5 individual events and numerous teams.

Fresh from his medal haul at Regional Championships, Joe Litchfield (Spa) was in determined mood in the 200m Backstroke. Not only a Gold medal but both a Championship record and a Dartes age-group record too. He followed that up with 5th in the 200m Butterfly.

Regular partner in crime Jarvis Parkinson (Arm) brought home the Silver in 200m Freestyle, about half a second away from Max's Dartes age-group record, which bodes well for Nationals later this month! He also contested 100m Butterfly coming 4th.

Helping Team North East to a fine overall win, the two boys were also joined by Heidi Smith (Arm). Touching in 2:48.21, Heidi earned herself a big PB, knocking over 2secs off her best Long Course performance set in May.

The boys were also involved in the team events, helping the North East Junior Boys to 2nd place in the 4x100m Freestyle and 4th in 4x100m Medley.