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News March 2022

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

Para Training Day at Catterick

27 Mar 2022: The club had a busy weekend with Sheffield Premier meet running for our top squads and the John Harriman Championships entertaining the younger end of the programme. While that was happening, a number from Performance 5 took part in round 2 of their England Talent Programme on Zoom, and Lucas Lee (Ros) was invited to attend his first taste of the North East Region's para-swim training run by Richmond Dales coach Keith Hall.

So a weekend with lots of things going on involving lots of people.

As we haven't been involved in the para side of the sport for a while, let's take a look at Lucas' day. Based at Richmond Dales' home pool of Catterick Garrison, this was the third in a four event series that was discussed among North East coaches over lockdown. It was aimed at bringing together the top para-talent from around the North East to establish camaraderie and awareness among the community.

Lucas was one of 20 atheletes taking part, and it followed a similar schedule to the regional talent camps. They started out in the sports hall for some land training. The familiar topic of RAMP warm ups was discussed, the constituent parts described, and various examples of suitable exercises presented for each bit. More than likely, it didn't have a scary voice-over in the style Coach Dave adopted for the video below, which was filmed during lockdown (he probably had gone mad by that point), but the principles are the same and it's always good to see which exercises different coaches through in to the mix.

A 20min practical followed split into groups to give everyone experience of applying all those RAMP components.

Next up they were in the pool for 2 hours to practice various race skills such as starts and turns and breaking them into smaller pieces to improve them. Plenty of opportunities to practice dive starts and the importance of underwater work were covered in detail.

As we always tell those on the various talent camps, you need to return home and apply what you've learnt to your day-to-day training. But more than that, you need to promote the new skills and knowledge around your training groups too. Spread the knowledge, and raise the level within among your peers.

Now we apologise for the voice-over, but here's everything you need to know about RAMP warm ups ...

Another Schools Event - Cross Country

19 Mar 2022: Back in November we reported on how a number of our swimmers had dominated the Doncaster Schools Cross Country. The next step, early February at Campsall, was to gain selection for the South Yorkshire team to compete at the ESAA Nationals at Hop Farm in Kent on 19th March. Grace Blair (Adw) was successful in that selection process and travelled to Kent to represent the southern part of the White Rose county. The other two battling for a spot on the team were Katie Wilson (Arm) and Theo Kearsley (Adw) finishing 5th and 12th respectively.

On the big day itself, Grace finished 114th out of 400 girls taking part. But importantly, her year 8-9 team finished 6th overall. Very well done on your cross country adventure, Grace.

Gold and Silvers at ESSA Champs

13 Mar 2022: The English Schools Swimming Association Inter-Divisional Championships is always one of the highlights of the year for those selected to take part. This year's event, the first since Covid arrived, took place this weekend at the Alan Higgs Centre in Coventry. This brand new 50m pool was built in 2020 as an addition to the existing Alan Higgs Leisure Centre. Rumour has it, the ESSA Champs will return there again next year.

The Inter-Divisional Championships brings together eight regional divisions from around England. Roughly the same as the regions used by Swim England, it'll be no surprise that our bunch represent the North East. Although in the case of Madison Johnson (Arm) her Gold medal winning 4x100m Medley team on Saturday afternoon may as well have been called South Yorkshire: three from City of Sheffield and one from Dartes.

The age groups are a little different to what we're used to, being based on school years, we have: Junior, Intermediates, and Seniors.

As with many county or regional competitions of this sort, Yorkshire and the North East is always very strong. That's a double edged sword. On the one hand, earning selection is tough - you have to be among the very best in the country. The flip side is that it's more than likely that you'll end up on the winning team if you do earn selection. And so it proved for 2022, with the North East winning Junior Boys, Intermediate Girls, Senior Girls, and Senior Boys. They missed out on Junior Girls and Intermediate Boys but finished as runner-up in both.

It's a full range of 100m and 200m events, with open age 50m strokes added for good measure. As ever, when you throw team events into the mix, it ramps up the fun factor. Maddie enjoyed winning Gold and Bronze in the 4x100m Medley and Freestyle teams respectively (fastest Butterfly split in the medley). Callum Broadhead (Arm) got to try his hand at the very exciting mixed 6x50m Freestyle team as well - coming away with the Silver medal and the fastest split of the race (23.81).

Our pair came away with individual medals too, contributing to the final team scores that look like a run-away victory for the North East:

1stNorth East575
2ndSouth East480
3rdSouth West446
4thWest Midlands419
5thNorth West391
7thEast Midlands266

Getting our two started on day 1 was Maddie in the 100m Butterfly. Next door to the North East's lane 6 was the South West's Ella Bainbridge (Arm), going up against her former team mate - two Dartes record holders side-by-side. Having gone head to head on Butterfly in countless training sets, this was familiar territory for both girls.

Maddie's quicker opening speed gave her the lead, turning in 1st place (the scoreboard, clearly wrong, put her 3rd). The objective was to beat the 1:05 that she had been stuck on since before the pandemic. Her short course time has recently dropped to a 1:02, so we were hoping for a fast 1:04 or maybe sneak a 1:03.

Pulling out a small lead in the final 25m she looked dead set for the Gold medal, but then ...

The most enormous of enormous glides into the finish!

She had an arm length lead with one stroke left to the wall - a stroke which never happened. Isabel Iley had been challenging throughout and Ella's fast charging final 25m had caught back to the leading duo. The lead disintegrated as Maddie lay there gliding; begging the wall to come faster.

She touched in 1:04.31, Isabel 2nd in 1:04.62 and Ella 3rd another 1/10th behind. It was the 1:04 she wanted, but without the glide could it have been a 1:03? Training lesson for everyone: practice your finishes at every opportunity (which means every rep).

That 1:04 gives her the Dartes age-group record that she was sharing with Laura Brookes (Edl) on 1:05.27. It also makes her the 3rd fastest senior Dartes girl of all time; 2nd, 3rd, and 4th are pretty tight 1:04.30, 1:04.31, and 1:04.33, such has been the quality of Dartes female Butterfly. There's still another second to match the record of Molly Chambers (Drn) at 1:03.29 though.

That 1:04 is a safe bet to take Maddie to summer nationals. Whether it's enough for the British half of that event instead of English only time will tell. Next time though, without the glide, she should go faster.

Callum also booked his ticket for summer nationals, and most likely British at that. In Sunday's 100m Freestyle he was first at the half way turn. His lack of training due to numerous illnesses this season meant he missed out on Gold to a boy one year older. Silver in 54.00 is good enough to place him top of the British Rankings for 2022 so far (unless anyone else went faster at other meets this weekend).

In the team events, both scored the fastest splits for their discipline. Maddie once again went up against Ella on Fly for the Medley. A 1:04.35 for Maddie backed up the individual effort. Ella had the 2nd fastest split in 1:04.58.

Callum dived in level with the lead for his 2nd leg of the 6x50m mixed Freestyle team. That's the last they saw of him. No one else got within 2sec of his 23.81 as he pulled out a huge lead for Team North East. It took all of the remaining 200m for the South East team to reel back in the North East and both teams touched inside the old English Schools record. Alas, North East were left to settle for Silver in the final few metres.

The final two events for Maddie on Sunday were the 50m Butterfly and 4x100m Freestyle team. Not quite her best start on the sprint but another sub-30sec swim should be enough for English Nationals - she will go faster later in the window and hopefully add another British slot for that one.

She recorded the 2nd fastest split on the North East Freestyle team in 1:00.99 - not bad considering the heavy-hitting Freestylers on the team. That effort earned her a Bronze medal.

The other thing about ESSA Championships is the possibility of selection to the English Schools team travelling to international meets. This year looks likely to see the team visit Normandy in May and China in November. It's not a foregone conclusion that Gold medalists are selected, but Maddie has staked her claim for a spot. We'll wait and see what the selectors think now.

Rob's Local Club Tour Continues

10 Mar 2022: Performance Coach Rob has already visited Armthorpe and Dearne Valley in recent months, so this week's visit to Spa Askern was another introductory visit ticked off. Head Coach Dave managed to squeeze in a trip to Adwick a couple of months ago, and both he and Chairperson Gail took Rob along to meet Adwick's Chairman soon after his arrival in Doncaster.

So Wednesday evening was a great opportunity to see how another of our clubs operates - albeit currently based at Adwick due to renovations of the Askern pool. There were a number of athletes the Spa coaches wanted Rob to take a look at, which is always great to hear. But even without that, it's good to build up those relationships with our partner clubs and see how we might be able to help them develop.

From Dartes' perspective it's also good to be able to explain what we need from the swimmers sent over to us. Like many places, the standard of swimming in Doncaster is rarely consistent each year and coming out of a pandemic those inconsistencies are huge. As a result, there are opportunities for younger athletes that might not have been available to them previously and we're always keen to offer those chances to as many young athletes as possible.