News May 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
A Litchfield Record Smashed!
22 May 2018: We have a small group of age group athletes competing at NER Championships this month. It's definitely not our biggest contingent ever, but there is a lot of promise rising through the ranks. There aren't enough competing in the big events for sure (1500m/800m we're looking at you!) That's a disappointment, but it's a target to fix and we know how to do it. Expect more in the coming years. A Bronze medal in the big Freestyle for Ben Wright (Arm) showing where we should be and where others need to aim. For young athletes, don't be scared of distance Freestyle. It should be considered an essential element for all age-group swimmers!
Continuing with the big event theme, the 400m Medley is the cornerstone of age-group development. We push the Animal Squad ethos for a reason (we should probably push it far more). And indeed, those attending the lunch time presentation with Swim England Talent Officer, Fred Furniss, will have heard him say the exact same thing this weekend. The 400m Medley identifies the complete swimmer. Every stroke, every skill, a big endurance engine to power through it. Any weakness is quickly uncovered. There is nowhere to hide. In his first NER Championships, Cody Watkinson (Adw) forced his way in, sneaking inside the qualifying time. What an event for a debut performance!
We say many times to many people, but it rarely hits home. NEVER EVER compare short course performances with long course performances. When it comes to events like the big Medley, that is even more important. They're different events, treat them as entirely different events. Young swimmers read that again, it's important. When you've got it, make your parents read it.
Cody's heat swim was a PB. It was a PB because it's the first time he's raced it long course. It's also only the second long course 100m Butterfly he's done (according to Dartes records). That was about to change though. His second attempt at the Medley came in the final after lunch - a proper baptism of fire!
The secret to being able to race the events that hurt as much as that one, is to train even harder! Train with the skills you want to be able to race with and put yourself in the same pain as you expect when racing - and still do the skills! At the young age, especially with boys (11 and under), getting those skills is often incredibly hard work. Sometimes you have to resort to threats. So it proved with Luke Gilliver (Drn) this Saturday. We all know he loves to push himself to crazy extremes, but we despair at his imagined need to breath at every opportunity. So going in to the 200m Butterfly heats, it was decided a threat of unimaginable horrors was required to keep him on a 2-stroke breathing pattern.
The threat worked - much to the relief of Olivia Phelan (Adw) - an outstanding swim was delivered by the 10 year old. So good in fact that it earned him a spot in the 11/12 year olds final, with a time that smashed the Dartes age-group record set by Max Litchfield (Spa) over a decade ago. In the final he pushed the 3rd 50m hard enough to shave off another 2sec.
Lucky Luke wasn't finished there either. The next day in the 200m Freestyle he took his heat by the scruff of its neck again. Up against team mate, and lightening fast opener Callum Broadhead (Arm), he was determined to stay with the slightly older boy down the first 50m. Together they were head and shoulders ahead by 50m, a lead that kept growing to 150m. Underwater skills need a lot of work for both boys still, as do stroke mechanics, but that's par for the course at this age. The heat came back strongly down the final 50m, Callum kept his hard earned advantage, Luke faded in the final 20m - but two outstanding swims.
No 2nd final for our 10 year old, but Callum jumped from 9th to 5th in the final shootout - the only 11 year old against the 12s - with another fine improvement on that all important 3rd 50m. Both boys would finish up in 2nd place on their respective Dartes age-group records; in the mix among some very big names. But hard work, and attention to detail trumps all. The qualify of their training over the next few months will decide whether they keep pace with the super-stars of the past, or fall away!
Many of you will be aware that Dartes has a Backstroke tradition. Some may have noticed Coach Dave distraught after this year's Yorkshires when our boys failed to win a Backstroke Gold. That marked the end of a 9 year run of multiple Backstroke Champions at Yorkshire Championships. Not quite a full decade, but agonisingly close. That only takes events at 100m and over in to account of course, it completely ignores the 50s. Cohen Stephenson (Adw) couldn't quite make amends in the 100m final at NERs, but then there was a giant from Bradford a couple of lanes over. He got close though, a finger nail away from 2nd to bring home our second Bronze of the weekend.
Josh Cusack-Hughes (Adw) wasn't a million miles away in the age-group below either. With more focus on skills and hitting the right intensity in training, his 4th place could well be converted next time. Lots for everyone to work hard at over the rest of the season, and more to swim for next weekend.