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News September 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

Mission Control we have Blast Off!

28 Sep: It isn't often we see the Dartes swimmers entering a gala where all of the events are 50m. Indeed swimmers and parents are used to the coaches pushing them towards the 200m events, with the 100m "just to fill in" and the 50m completely ignored. So doing the Teaspoon gala, where all events are 50m is certainly a bit different!

Gala Pete pitched this one as an early season blow out, just to get us all in the mood for the start of the new season! So as ordered 50 swimmers (and assorted parents and supporters) popped along to Ponds Forge on Sunday the 23rd of September to see if we could win any teaspoons. That's right, this meet has no medals or trophies. In celebration of Sheffield's long heritage of steel making, victorious swimmers come away with cutlery instead - hence the name of the meet.

Coach Dave and Team Manager Jane with Phase 4 The old Sheaf Valley baths, complete with Rolf Harris mural The Teaspoon Gala is Sheffield's longest running open meet, stretching back 30 years. For those who love their swimming trivia, you'll quickly realise that the meet is older than even Ponds Forge! The popular Sheaf Valley baths (complete with Rolf Harris mural, but long ago demolished) was its original home, and one of our coaches actually competed in the last Teaspoon Gala to be held there!

But enough of the history lesson, let's get back to the present day.

Those 50 swimmers competing last Sunday raced in an amazing 195 heats, with a further 95 swims in finals. A total of 290 races or 14,500m! This means that 49% of the swims on the day qualified for finals. Wow, an amazing achievement.

In those finals we won 11 Gold, 9 Silver and 10 Bronze medals or rather a collection of 30 teaspoons! I know of at least one young man who is using his to eat yoghurt! Wonder what all you others have done with yours? Maybe we should start a gallery page to find out.

Take a look in the results archive to see who made the finals and won all that cutlery.

Reaching finals and winning teaspoons is great, but it isn't the end of the achievements.
Oh no!
Of those 290 swims 175 were personal bests, which is over half. Where do you reckon she's from then? The older element of the team In fact there were some huge PBs (although this was not surprising when you consider some swimmers hadn't swum these events long course for ages!) However, looking at the results some of those big personal bests were from times swum earlier this year.

Robbie Casson (Adw) knocked over 2.5 seconds off his Butterfly, Backstroke and Breaststroke times. Rebecca Christmas (Arm) knocked over 1.5 seconds off her Butterfly and Freestyle times. Caitlin Dixon (Arm) knocked an amazing 3 seconds off her Breaststroke time too. As one of the more senior members of the squad, achieving such a massive PB (since March 2012) is fantastic. Remember the older you are the more difficult it is to get those large PBs - especially on 50m sprints.

Amber Hardy (Adw) also knocked 2 seconds off her Breaststroke time. Chloe Hill (Don) took 3.5 seconds off her Backstroke. Bradley Hurdiss (Drn) wiped over 2.5 seconds off his Butterfly, Backstroke and Freestyle events. Robert Kirk (Spa) took 1.5 seconds off his Backstroke time, while Eleanor Vodden (Adw) took 2.5 seconds off Breaststroke too.

A massive well done to everyone who swam on the day. It was a real pleasure cheering you all on.

The final big achievement of course was when they announced the Top Club of the meet:

Doncaster DARTES

Waiting for the warmup Top Club - 2nd time in 4 years With tough competition from all over the country, including the small group of Dumfries Dolphins making lots of noise at the back of the stands, it was great to see team DARTES holding their own and winning. We last contested this meet back in 2009 with the same intention of having an early season blowout. It seems like only yesterday, but three years ago we were also crowned Top Club.

So did we achieve that early season blow out?
Absolutely yes!
This parent would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who helped on poolside on the day, and of course to all parents for the rather loud cheering. Doncaster DARTES - loud and proud to be top club at the Teaspoon Gala 2012.

Club Distribution for the New Season

20 Sep: Those of you who've been following our club/squad distribution tables for a while will know we've been struggling to conquer the 90 training members mark. Back in January we'd just sneaked up to 91, but roughly one year ago we were struggling at 85 and had been around that mark for a year or so. This month, due in no small measure to the hard work of Assistant Coach Danny, we're edging ever closer to a magical 100!

Euro Juniors anyone? Coach Chris with Assistant Coach Danny Towards the end of last season, Danny was busily visiting as many of our clubs as he could fit in. We didn't keep track, but we think he visited 6 of the top 7 clubs in the table below to introduce himself and the Dartes programme to the younger end of each club. His enthusiastic coaching style is clearly popular among our development squads, as new starters seem to appear every week.

As ever though, our top squads are full and bursting at the seams. Three new starters in Phase 5 to start the season leaves that squad bigger than it has ever been at 21. It also sees the first ever Minsthorpe Marlin climb in to the top squad at Dartes! Of the five newbies in Phase 4, Dearne Valley makes a welcome return to our full-time squads; a credit to their Head Coach Chris Allen. Between them, Minsthorpe and Dearne Valley have the biggest increase since January which we imagine will boost their gala performances no end next year.

Pos Club P5 P4 P3 P2 P1 Total Diff
1 Armthorpe Kingfishers 6 7 7 1 1 22 +1
2 Adwick 4 5 3 4 4 20 -6
3 Minsthorpe Marlins 1 7 6 2 1 17 +4
4 Askern Spa 5 4 1 2 0 12 +2
5 Edlington Stingrays 2 3 1 2 2 10 +2
6 Dearne Valley 0 1 2 0 4 7 +5
7= Don Valley 0 1 1 0 1 3
7= South Axholme Sharks 2 1 0 0 0 3 -2
9 Rossington 1 0 1 0 0 2 -1
Total 21 29 22 11 14 97 +6
Start of Season, Club Distribution and difference since January

Coming off the most successful season we've had in well over a decade though, the numbers only tell part of the story. It's critically important that we continue to raise the standard within our squads; there is still a long way to go. The ultimate challenge for this season is to have even more selected for Team GB at Euro Juniors. Last season the biggest club representation was 3 (for Plymouth Leander), can we match that?

Will YOU be part of it?

At the same time some of our older age-groupers and younger youth swimmers need to be focused on qualifying for British Champs - Nationals has been conquered, it's now time for you to take the next step!

To achieve any of those things means the environment and the culture within Dartes needs to take another step forwards. We've come a long way, but don't rest on your laurels. We have probably travelled around half the journey so far, we're winning stuff at Nationals; there's British Champs and Euro Juniors left to come!

Ready to take another step forwards? Ready to take another step forwards? The big cultural improvements for this year probably rest on Phase 4. We'll be looking at raising the standard within that squad in areas such as attendance (for pool and especially land training), and being more disciplined with the meets being attended. If the first couple of weeks are anything to go by, we've made a strong start in the pool; probably the best opening to a season for Phase 4 in its short history. So the signs are good.

But don't get complacent. Some of you need to be qualifying for Nationals this year, so you all have a lot of work to do to help each other get there. At this stage of the season training is all about locking in the skills for later. Fitness levels always drop over the summer, so we enjoy a steady climb back to full volume, and during that period we're looking to hammer home those important technical points that help bring big time drops later. Good habits take time to develop and require complete focus.

As Bob Bowman is fond of saying: "Success is a marathon, not a sprint".

A Week of Fundraising

16 Sep: This past week our hard working fundraisers have been at it again. To each and every one of you: well done and thank you.

Some of the rattlers Revellers and Rattlers As we try to impress upon everyone each year, this club only exists in its current successful state due to their hard work. Performance swim programmes are extremely expensive to run. Pool hire costs alone are astronomical and increasing rapidly. In addition to that, a full-time Head Coach is pretty much essential if our young athletes (your children) are to achieve the levels of success they have done recently.

Last season we failed to raise enough cash to continue employing a part-time assistant coach, the future success of JDS was in serious doubt! Fortunately Coach Danny Winn stepped in to the breach and saved the day; another volunteer assistant coach in that great tradition Doncaster Swimming has. But as essential and utterly brilliant as many of them are, volunteers only get you so far.

Let's put things in to perspective at a level everyone can appreciate. The past four years have seen Dartes win close to 30 Gold medals EACH YEAR at Yorkshire Championships. Many of you reading this will have one in your family (or a medal of a different colour). That's more EACH YEAR than the first 5 years of this century combined with an extremely dedicated volunteer Head Coach!

There are limits to what volunteer coaches can achieve at this level - just ask Coach Dave or Coach Danny. It's not just a matter of turning up to training, there is an enormous amount of planning going on behind the scenes.

Read over those two paragraphs again, just to make sure you understand all the implications. Follow the link and check out the medal tables for yourself.

We stated that argument in terms of Yorkshire Champions to relate to as many of you as possible. But get this: 2012 saw as many National Gold medals won by Dartes as the best tally at Yorkshire Championships for the first four of those early years! The conclusion is simple and obvious, if you want the best opportunities for your kids (and we know you do), then ALL OF YOU need to accept that fundraising is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY too.

To that small army of bucket rattling parents and swimmers (those in the photos and a few more besides), the rest of the club owes you an enormous debt of gratitude. Your contribution to keeping the Dartes dream alive for every athlete through all our squads cannot be overestimated. To the rest of you who have so far resisted Donna's arm twisting: pull your finger out and get involved. The future of this club is in your hands!

Finally, to any of those generous revellers throwing coins and notes our way (especially the lovely ladies who posed for a photo), another huge thank you. You've contributed to a Doncaster sporting success story right here on your doorstep in the true spirit of the Olympic Legacy.

5 for England Talent

14 Sep: Five seems to be the number of the hour.

As reported last month, Coach Dave has been invited to join the coaching team for the level 1 England Talent programme this season. Talent Camp duty is an honour Coach Wallace has enjoyed for the past few years and gained invaluable experience from, now it's the turn of our Assistant Coach to benefit from the same.

Busy start to the season for our Coaches In addition to Coach Dave though, we'll also have our largest representation of athletes for many a year. Tagging along with Dave on the two level 1 camps at Leeds in November and February will be our three youngest representatives on the Yorkshire Team that we reported on yesterday. National Champion Jarvis Parkinson (Arm), Silver medallist Alex Pollard (Arm), and Finalist Joe Litchfield (Spa) have all been selected for these introductory camps.

Another of our Team Yorkshire athletes and another National Champion Max Litchfield (Spa) has been invited back for the level 3 programme, to make it four of the five selected for the Yorkshire team. This means Max has taken part in the England Talent Programme at all levels, from level 1 all the way up to level 3.

Our fifth selection won't be part of the Yorkshire team though, and this will be her first appearance on the England Talent Programme - straight in at level 2. Thanks to her superb semi-final appearances at Nationals, and her growing appetite for distance Freestyle, Caitlin Dixon (Arm) gets her foot in the door for both Distance Freestyle and Open Water - that's sure to be a fun experience!

5 for the War of the Roses

Three of the Dartes Stars on County duty 13 Sep: Each October the counties of England bring together their finest athletes and converge on Ponds Forge to see who will be the first to topple the Red Rose of Lancashire from their decade long dominance of the National County Team Championships. It's an event that spans the age groups, with 100m of each stroke plus medley teams across 12/13, 14/15, and 16/17 year age bands; and a 6x50m Freestyle team to boot.

In recent years Dartes have been represented by one or two (watch 2011 on Dartes TV), but after a successful end to last season, 2012 sees five Dartes stars called up, plus the added honour of Head Coach Andrew Wallace being named on the Yorkshire coaching team.

Donc Dartes5
York City BC1

So who are our super stars of the White Rose?

The first two will come as no surprise. We'll be adding two National Champions to the mix in the shape of Max Litchfield (Spa) and Jarvis Parkinson (Arm). Tagging along for good measure will be National Silver medallist Alex Pollard (Arm) and fellow finalist Joe Litchfield (Spa). Returning to the Yorkshire team for a second year running will be Shannon Dodson (Adw).

In that way we have of turning everything in to a competition, those 5 put us in Yorkshire's top 3 yet again. City of Leeds and City of Sheffield have a slightly larger representation, but we're hot on their heels and closing the gap fast. The challenge now for all those others in our training lanes, do the work this season and see if you can get a call up next time!

White Rose - 3rd Again

9 Sep: A new season and the White Rose meet has a new host. Switching from John Charles in Leeds to The Hydro in Harrogate, Yorkshire's youngest converged to do watery battle in the pool.

Early in September most performance swimmers are returning from a reduced summer programme, so this is traditionally a chance for the young guns to blow away some cobwebs and welcome in the new season. It's not often Dartes attends an event with nothing but 25m and 50m sprints, but on this occasion we make an exception.

Pos Club Points
1City of Leeds266
2City of Sheffield224
3Donc Dartes179
4Kingston upon Hull143
5Harrogate and District114
6York City Baths Club79

Each year some clubs join in, others take a break from the event. For 2012 we welcomed back York City, and missed Borough of Kirklees and Rotherham Metro. No B teams this time round either to make for a compact 6 team contest.

We've finished 3rd or 4th every year since 2009, so it's very satisfying to hold on to 3rd again despite some key players missing. Some how we need to find a way to close the gap on the big city programmes though. New JDS coach Danny Winn has already made steps towards achieving that over the last few months. We expect to be able to report an increased number of young athletes ploughing up and down his lanes in the next few weeks. Hopefully those additional numbers will help us to bridge the gap to the Yorkshire powerhouses over the course of this season or next.

First Week Attendance

8 Sep: So with the first week of training out of the way, a reduced 5 sessions available to those in Phase 4 and Phase 5 to help them ease back in to the swim of things, how did they all do?

2012 National Squad, attend all your sessions and maybe you'll join them for 2013 Liam Tancock with Tash and Shan. Did Liam attend all of his sessions? You'll remember the 2012 season finished on a high, but no resting on your laurels - 2013 needs to be yet another step up! The big improvement this year: attendance. How many times during the Olympics did you hear about Phelps not missing a single session as he was growing up in Baltimore? That's not a trait unique to him, most of those competing in London will be able to make the same boast. Big work ethic, dedication, commitment. All attributes that elite performance swimmers share - do you have what it takes to be one of them?

For Phase 5, with a record 21 swimmers in the squad, this week offered a total of 21x5 sessions, that's 105 attendance boxes to tick. It was an easy week, but guess what ...

Phase 5: 100% attendance!

To be fair, they should be. Coach Wallace has drummed that one in to them pretty good over the past year or so. How about Phase 4? 29x5 gives 145 required ticks. 7 misses for a squad total of 138.

Phase 4: 95% attendance.

Of course, early mornings start bright and early on Monday, then the real challenge begins. You all have your target weekly sessions to hit appropriate for your age. Don't let down your self or your squad, make sure you're hitting your required sessions each week. Then you too can join the club of never missing a session!