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News February 2018

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

Medals at Yorkshire Teams

25 Feb 2018: Yorkshire teams has always been a pretty brutal test of a club's depth. Four stars will get you among the medals. Three stars and a brightly shining super star might lift you all the way to Gold (but better find a 2nd, just to be sure). Anything less than that and you'll be fighting it out among the also rans. The likes of CoLeeds, CoSheffield, and BoKirklees have enough depth to field multiple challengers which sets the bar high, we have to rise to their challenge.

We came in to Yorkshires this season knowing we didn't have the depths of recent years. Our older teams lost a few stars over the summer break. Lose one and you're out of the medals. Lose two and you'll be struggling to reach finals.

A brutal test indeed.
Exactly how it should be :-)

So 2018 was never expected to see the medal haul of 2009-2014 when one respected senior coach in Yorkshire proclaimed Dartes the club to beat at Yorkshire teams (for one of those years at least). But for a rebuilding year, it was pretty good. And as rebuilds start at the younger end, three medals out of four for the 9/10 and 11/12 year old boys is exactly what we wanted! The missed fourth medal was a 4th place too. Great job by Coach Jordan.

Of course, this is just the beginning. That early potential needs a lot of hard work over the next 12 months. You don't hang on in the medals for another year without doing the right amount of work in the right way. Plenty of those behind our boys today will do exactly that in the hope of flying past them in 2019! Let's make sure it's us flying past those ahead instead.

Whereas the bigger clubs can afford to have a few of the early speedsters disappear over the next few years due to a lack of training appetite, Dartes teams need to knuckle down and keep everyone working hard together to remain competitive. For those girls in our 15/16 years team who are still training hard, a Medley Bronze was the reward.

Any young athletes back at the feeder clubs who fancy competing at this level get yourselves in JDS pronto. Swimming is an early specialisation sport. If you're not doing the right work and the right volume by age 12 you are going to struggle to get to this level of the sport. Give yourself a fighting chance and get involved at the right age. A little encouragement goes a long way.

The challenge for 2019 is to increase this year's medal tally. For that to happen, we need all of Doncaster's clubs feeding in swimmers early and often. We also need DCLT producing quality swimmers at an early enough age too. It's very much a symbiotic relationship that we all benefit from.

Just because some of us find this stuff interesting, below is the club distribution today. South Axholme Sharks used to get involved too, alas it would appear no longer.

Club Distribution
P5 P4 P3 P2 P1 Total
Adwick 5 10 14 2 2 34
Armthorpe Kingfishers 8 6 1 1 0 16
Askern Spa 1 0 1 0 2 4
Dearne Valley 4 6 1 3 0 14
Edlington Stingrays 1 2 0 2 2 7
Rossington 0 1 2 2 2 7
Thorne Tigers 1 2 0 0 0 3
Total 20 27 19 10 8 85

Young Records Fall at Yorkshire Sprints

24 Feb 2018: What can we take away from a day of 50m swimming at Yorkshire Sprints? Quite a bit, it would seem.

Have the top 3 places on any of the Dartes age-group records all been rewritten in a single race before? That's what happened in the final of the girls 10 year olds 50m Backstroke. Olivia Phelan (Adw) took Silver and lowered her own club record in the process. Swiftly followed by Lucie Savage (Adw) for Bronze and 2nd spot on the Dartes records. Finally, Ella Calverley (Adw) touched 4th to round out the Top 3 best Dartes performances of all-time.

And our club records are far from easy.

There's an Olympic finalist splashed all over them, a Commonwealth Games Champion too; not to mention a bunch of senior British internationals hoping to make it three former Dartes swimmers reaching Olympic finals when Tokyo 2020 comes around.

For the boys, Nicholas Honeybone (Arm) knocked over 3sec from his 50m Breaststroke PB to snatch a Silver medal. That gave him his second Dartes Breaststroke record from these championships. Luke Gilliver (Drn) wasn't breaking records, but was climbing up the top performers lists. A final for 50m Freestyle pushed him to 3rd best Dartes boy all-time. Up an age, and Josh Cusack-Hughes (Adw) won Gold in the sprint Backstroke for the 2nd best all-time Dartes 11 year old boy (racing here as a 12 year old).

There's a giant leap from setting club records as a 10 or 11 year old, to getting to the Olympics at 20 of course.

A leap of around 25,000km of training.
More than half way around the world.
And there are no short cuts.

For a 10 year old to have a strong performance at 50m is a good starting point. The rest is just a function of training. But they have to do that training, and do it right. Without it, the chasing pack will come flying past. It's tempting for young athletes (more likely their parents) to consider themselves sprinters - just because they do well on the 50s but struggle as the turns increase. The reality is, biologically speaking, there's no such thing as a Sprinter at this age. Merely someone who hasn't done the training required to perform well at the longer distances.

Easy perhaps to watch Adam Akram (Arm) sprinting his way to Freestyle Gold and Butterfly Silver this weekend and call "Sprinter". But his Bronze at the 100m Freestyle, Silver at the 200m Freestyle, and 5th places at both the 400m and 1500m would suggest he's done the training to perform across the full range of events. That's an important habit for young swimmers to get in to.

Likewise for Hannah Newnham (Arm). A 14 year old swimming in the 15 year age-group at Yorkshires, her heat swims for Butterfly and Breaststroke earned her final positions, but also pushed her to 3rd and 5th fastest on the Dartes all-time list for her age. The previous weekends saw her perform well across a broad range of events up to the 400m IM and 200m Butterfly. Our younger swimmers need to focus on Building the Engine by doing the right amount of training week in, week out, to emulate and perhaps better the performances of those who've come before them. We have a strong group coming through, but their training volume isn't exactly consistent.

Congratulations to our other medallists this weekend too. Marise Garbutt (Arm) brought home a Silver in the Breaststroke. That also lifts her up one place to 4th on the Dartes all-time list. Former Dartes 200m Breaststroke National Squad star Oswald Hood (Adw) also claimed a Silver in the 50m. Cohen Stephenson (Adw) has picked up a bucket full of Bronze over the previous few weekends, so there was no reason for him to not add more in the sprints. He did so, in the Backstroke and Freestyle.

Where are the Animals?

14 Feb 2018: Many moons ago we created an imaginary group of super-heroes. Collectively, we called them "The Animal Squad". Its purpose was to show case Doncaster's finest at some of the toughest events on the swimming programme: 200m Butterfly, 400m IM, 800m/1500m Freestyle. This weekend at the 2018 Yorkshire Championships, we had a flashback to The Animal Squad's legacy: 4 girls in a single heat of the 200m Butterfly! Two of those girls, Molly Chambers (Drn) and Hannah Newnham (Arm), fought hard to push each other towards winning the heat. A little behind them, and locked in a private battle of their own, Chantelle Waugh (Arm) and Callie Ramshaw (Ros) also qualified for their respective finals.

Those girls are the product of a five year period where the big Animal Events were heavily promoted within Dartes. At its peak, 38 Dartes swimmers competed at 200m Butterfly each year. Current membership stands at 85 swimmers across all squads - coincidentally 38 in JDS - so that's not a bad ratio.

Alarmingly though, at Yorkshires we had just 2 boys aged 10-13 swimming the same event, and a single girl!

Those big events shouldn't scare anyone.
They're a challenge for sure.
But challenges are there to make us stronger.
Everyone in Phase 4 should consider it their mission to compete at all of the Animal Events in 2018. It would be good to see a few from JDS diving in to the mix too. Most of those in Phase 5 (like the four girls above) have grown up with that ethos and prospered, now it's the turn of a new generation.

Who will make their debut in the ranks of "The Animal Squad" this year?

200m Butterfly
400m IM
800m/1500m Freestyle