News May 2017
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
End of an Era
14 May 2017: Most of you will already be aware that this season brings to a close another coaching era at Doncaster Dartes. By the end of June, Head Coach Andrew Wallace will be jetting off to take up a new role with British Swimming on the coaching staff at Loughborough University. With that comes a new opportunity for an aspiring coach to step in to his shoes and continue the project started by Andy's predecessor Roy Shepherdson in 2005. That project: to provide Doncaster with a top class Performance Swim Programme led by a full-time Head Coach.
The club will be advertising the role this coming week, with a view to having the successful applicant in-post to get the new season off to a flying start in September. In the mean time, Coach Alison Howard will be stepping in to keep Phase 5 working to plan until the end of the season. Phase 4 and JDS will continue as normal under Coaches Dave Cuthbert and Jordan Allerton. At this stage, only minimal disruption is anticipated but coaching personnel will be different to normal.
Training schedules for all squads are expected to remain the same in the build up to the big end of season competitions.
Here is a brief re-cap of Andy's 10 years at the helm.
Firstly, it should be remembered that a programme such as Dartes isn't just here to produce outstanding swimmers. Without top class coaches those athletes don't reach the lofty heights so many have enjoyed in the past decade. So Dartes needs to be about developing coaching talent just as much as swimming talent. That's a tough job considering how many small pieces Doncaster Swimming is split into. Andy came from a swimming background with one of those small pieces: Edlington ASC. He learnt the tools of the trade as a swimming teacher in Doncaster too. He then pushed himself in to a coaching role at Dartes under Roy Shepherdson in 2005. Any young coaches around Doncaster's clubs who fancy a career in coaching should consider doing similar. Since those early days, Andy has gone on to be a regular selection for British Swimming's junior teams, and paved the way for two other Dartes coaches to be chosen for the ASA's England Talent Programme.
At a more local level of the sport, under Andy's leadership the club has won the title of Most Improved Club at Yorkshire Championships 3 times (2009, 2011, 2013 - trophy right). A feat made all the more impressive when realised that our medal tally continued to rise on the years in between, and we were only narrowly beaten to the prize during those years too. At regional level the medal tally also rose sharply; an astonishing 83 NER medals were won in 2012 alone!
On a more relaxed note, Phase 5 has enjoyed an annual training camp for 8 of his 10 years in charge. We've travelled the Mediterranean like never before: Mallorca, Tenerife, Sardinia, Torremolinos. Future training camp hopefuls have also enjoyed mini-versions on chaperone meets to Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace, and Cardiff.
But National level and above is where Dartes has shone brightest, smashing Doncaster's previous best medal run in the process. 2013's 11 National medals stands out as the target to beat by his successor - no pressure. Above the domestic programme Coach Wallace leaves Dartes with an enviable legacy: a 6 year streak (2012-2017) producing 5 junior international boys including a World Junior Champion (Max) who went on to a 4th placed finish at the Rio Olympics. A year or two later two more boys won medals at European Junior Championships (Joe and Jarvis - see photo) to make it three 200m IM medallists at Euro Juniors. This year Dartes will be represented at the same competition in 200m Butterfly (Josh), while we can also boast a Slovak international too (Simon).
It's well known that without a strong university in Doncaster, Dartes is only ever going to be a stepping stone for ambitious coaches. Andy moves to Loughborough to work with senior international athletes to tick off the remaining boxes on his coaching resumé. On behalf of everyone at Dartes, we wish him all the best in his new adventure and will follow his unfolding career with pride.
Our attention now turns to finding the next ambitious coach looking to make their mark in the sport. A solid committee running the club; membership numbers rising as high as we've seen this century; a strong and growing coaching team; and the water time we need to do the job right. Everything is in place for an enthusiastic new start in September.
Just one piece of the jigsaw left to find.
The hunt begins in earnest.