News June 2019
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
3rd at White Rose
22 Jun 2019: The Arena Junior Inter-League contest is a National competition with 11 leagues spread throughout the country. For Yorkshire's clubs it is predictably known as the White Rose League. The White Rose is usually contested over a single fixture bringing together the county's best junior teams. Today was the day.
Traditionally it's been an event to crown City of Leeds as Yorkshire's representatives at the National final. They then go on and often win that too - such is the strength of our Yorkshire neighbours amongst the young age-group categories. For this year then, the contest took place at John Charles in Leeds.
It always proves a difficult task to bring all of Doncaster's young swimmers together for this event. Many are still unfamiliar racing under the Dartes flag, and some know very few of their team mates - or are probably more familiar racing against them in the small local leagues. It's been worth doing over the years though as we are usually found around 2nd or 3rd overall.
And so it proved for 2019. Coming back strongly towards the end of the morning to draw level with City of Sheffield. Ahead of us there was only City of Leeds! With their massively successful learn to swim programme though, their strength and depth allowed them to field an A and B team for the occasion. Equal 3rd for Dartes.
DMasa Head Coaches Meeting
13 Jun 2019: Doncaster's Head Coaches (or club reps) enjoyed a positive second meeting at Rossington pool on Thursday evening. Once again chaired by the elder-statesman of Doncaster Swimming, Pete Hardy, we managed to discuss a number of topics to improve collaboration between clubs and Dartes.
Present from Dartes were both Head Coach Dave Cuthbert and Assistant Head Coach Jordan Allerton, along with reps from (clockwise from bottom left) Thorne, Adwick, Rossington, Dearne Valley, and Armthorpe. Unfortunately, Edlington were unable to attend due to work commitments.
With so many swimming clubs in such a small geographical area, it has always been a challenge to get everyone working together without tension. These meetings look like the future is positive in that regard though. There is a definite willingness, maybe even desire, to work more closely together and share ideas and best practice. When Coach Dave and Armthorpe Chair Pete Hardy first discussed resurrecting this coaches forum, it was with an eye on preventing the misunderstandings of the past, while the other eye was firmly on building the pathway for the future. So far, the signs are good, with all sides gaining a better understanding of each other's position.
Main topic of the evening was how to improve the flow of young athletes up the pathway, from learn-to-swim, into the clubs, and on to Dartes. Emphasis was on the early stages of that process and the ever rising age of entry level swimmers. Some interesting ideas were thrown around the table to be explored further or adopted by different clubs.
Coach Jordan extended that by presenting each club with the annual plan for JDS. This will allow all clubs to plan training to compliment the work done by Coach Harvey at Dartes and avoid doubling up quite so much. It'll take time to be fully embraced, but the enthusiasm shown for such a framework was extremely positive so is only likely to develop further. Of course, once swimmers move in to Phase 4, all their training should be done within the Dartes programme so the older phases aren't affected by that.
The meeting closed with the chair throwing an unexpected long-term idea in to the mix for future discussion.
Abs of Steel: The Pentagon
8 Jun 2019: It only took a week for Phase 4 to respond to the Phase 5 planking challenge. Saturday morning Coach Jordan decided to take our younger squad beyond holding simple triangle planks. Triangles though, is where they started. Rather than stationary triangles, they mastered the art of rotating triangles; walking on their hands in a circle. Congratulations to Ella Calverley (Edl), Emma Mitchell (Drn), and Violet Sykes (Adw) for that feat.
After that the polygons just got bigger. They made pentagons looks easy and you can just see this bunch of 5 itching to start rotating around the studio. It turns out the other groups couldn't quite hold the pentagon as firmly as the ones showing off below. As if anyone needed reminding how tough these plank challenges are, Coach Jordan had this to say:
We stepped it up to a Pentagon, one group (photo below) held it pretty well, the other two groups went straight away, daren't attempt getting them to rotate.
That wasn't all though. Why stop at planks when there are other, even more questionable challenges to attack. We'll add and Abs of Steel page to the photo gallery and see what else can be achieved.
Saturday morning also saw the chair challenge attempted by 4 boys with very shaky legs. More of that in the gallery's Abs of Steel page.
Doncaster Swimmers get Housebuilder Support
8 Jun 2019: We can announce this week a successful application with the house builder Persimmon through their Building Futures initiative. It's the start of a more aggressive strategy for raising funds for the club in order to provide the best training/competition environment that we can.
The full Persimmon press release follows. Needless to say, a huge thank you to the building giant for this award and to Gail for putting in the time and effort to make the application.
A Doncaster swimming club has secured a £1,000 grant for training aids to help improve its swimmers’ technique in competitions. Doncaster DARTES has been named as one of the regional champions of Persimmon Homes’ huge Building Futures programme in partnership with Team GB, the British Olympic Association. The club will use the money to purchase Backstroke wedges that can be used in training and competitions, helping swimmers to get an explosive start without slipping.
Gail Burton, from Doncaster DARTES, said:
“This is wonderful news for the club. As the town’s Elite Swimming training club, it’s important we support and develop our swimmers in the best way we can. Our membership mostly covers our various training venue costs but not training aids or additional coaching and as the club, and interest in the sport grows, fundraising has become increasing important. Currently we don’t have any Backstroke wedges for the swimmers to train with and on occasions their first experience of using them is in an actual competition. A successful start can make or break a race so Persimmon Homes’ support will make a huge difference to clubs race preparation.”
Housebuilder Persimmon Homes is dishing out £32,000 a month across its 32 regional operating areas, aiming to support groups which work with under-18s across three categories: sports, education and arts, and health. Later in the year, three initiatives which top a public vote will win £100,000 each, while there will be a £50,000 second prize and a £20,000 third prize in each category, and a further 87 shortlisted projects will each receive £5,000.
Alastair Hart, head of sales at Persimmon Homes South Yorkshire, said:
“This renowned club brings together many of the local swimming teams, providing an excellent structure to nurture and develop future swimmers. With so many of our development in and around the Doncaster area we are very pleased to give our support to the Doncaster DARTES.”
To find out more about or to apply Building Futures visit:
We are currently searching for the best deal on wedges so that Adwick Leisure Centre can be fully fitted out with 6 to both aid training/practice and add a little extra to our meets. Once purchased they can then be used for all Dartes meets at Adwick, Beverley, or even John Charles if we can fund 10 as they can be used with any starting block. Additionally the DMasa Champs, John Harriman Champs and potentially even local club galas can benefit too.
A big, big thank you to Persimmon Homes for making this possible.
The Importance of 400m IM
7 Jun 2019: It's an ethos we've held to proudly for many years, and one to continue in to the future. It's all about swimming Medley - and the big medley at that.
For young athletes (under 14s), two things are important.
- Building the engine
- Developing the skills
Think of your body like a race car. Somehow we need to turn your heart (your engine) in to an enormously powerful muscle capable of pumping fuel (blood) around the body in vast quantities - a bit like a 5 litre V8 muscle car. We don't want to be left with the heart equivalent of a 1.2 litre Fiat 500 - pretty though that might be.
It turns out we can do just that. We can build your engine much bigger by focusing on the longer distance events. Training for them, and getting good at racing them. More than that, before age 14, we can jump on your natural growth spurts to accelerate that engine building even more!
At that age range, your body is not biologically equipped to sprint. Sure, some will be faster than others, and sprinting is fun, but that's not what we're talking about. Nothing you do at this age, will contribute to making you a fast sprinter post 16 any better than focusing on the 400m IM. You will still need the 5 litre V8 - no one sprints fast with a 1.2 litre engine!
That's something to consider when entering open meets. Not all events are created equally. Some are more useful than others. If you're aiming for the top, 50m sprints should only be considered filler events. They're not important. They get in the way. They're a distraction. These are where the big guys aim:
- Priority number 1: 400m IM
- Priority number 2: 800/1500m Freestyle and 200m Butterfly
- Priority number 3: the other 200m/400m events
So what about Developing the Skills? The other important thing we mentioned earlier.
The 400m IM includes everything. Every stroke, every turn, a requirement for a massive engine, the whole shebang. Getting good at the 400m IM means you are the complete swimmer. From there, you can turn to every other discipline in the pool and be successful (including the sprints when you're old enough to develop those properly).
So what do the scribbled numbers on the right have to do with this?
They're timing records from Thursday night, and Thursday night is Threshold night for Phase 5. That's 3,000m of brutal, best-effort swimming. We split them in to Freestyle/Backstroke/IM groups and invent something painful for them to endure. On this occasion it was 2x300m, followed by 3 rounds of 3x100m and 2x200m, with a final 300m cherry on top. The faster ones got around 15sec rest between some of those reps, many didn't!
The five involved in the scribbled notes were in the Medley lane. Every rep of that set was performed as Medley. While checking over the numbers and being impressed the following morning, it suddenly popped up that this lane epitomises that Dartes ethos of 400m IM swimming. That lane alone contains three 400m IM qualifiers for British Summer Champs: Ella Bainbridge (Arm), a slightly ill Chantelle Waugh (Arm), and Madison Johnson (Arm). That's not all, there's also an English Summer Champs qualifier for the same event: Hannah Newnham (Arm), and another was missing due to exams Marise Garbutt (Arm). Pushing Ella throughout the set was the odd-man out. Ajay Scott (Arm) is an English Summer Champs qualifier at 200m Butterfly.
So a rather special lane. So much so, that the lane could have been spun round and called the 200m Butterfly lane instead. All five have also qualified for Nationals in that event this year (except Chantelle who qualified last season). Any young athletes out there looking for an event to call your own would do well to emulate these five (or six)! Get good at the 400m IM and you can do anything/everything!
Run Around the Lake
5 Jun 2019: The 2019 edition of the annual Phase 5 Run Around the Lake competition took place Wednesday evening. It's actual purpose is part 1 of a sponsored event to raise funds for our training camp in October. Part 2 takes place on Saturday morning in an environment they're much more at home in - a swimming pool.
So for Wednesday evening 2 laps of Lakeside were in order.
Any athlete needs to be able to run. Just because we compete in water doesn't excuse us from that. There will be running on training camp - more than last year if we can assume the weather will be better - we include running in our land training too. General athleticism is important and something swimmers generally lack and often fail to take seriously.
The fastest of our intrepid runners completed the 5km course in under 20mins. Congratulations to Ajay Scott (Arm) for that honour. The slowest of them was somewhere behind that time, taking a somewhat more leisurely pace. But all completed the distance.
Saturday's contribution to the double event will be a 5km swim in a boiling hot pool. For the party-poopers choosing to opt out, we have a very special alternative set planned. Be sure to bring an extra drink bottle!
Abs of Steel: Triangle Planks
3 Jun 2019: We tried something a little different in land training Monday evening. Everyone knows planks are great for toning the core and help building a swimmer's 6-pack. But how do you perform a plank without any feet being in contact with the floor? Turns out it's quite "easy". Painful, but "easy".
Minimum you need is 3 people in a triangle. You can go with higher numbers (you know your polygons, right?) but as we had 3 boys and 6 girls, 3 groups of 3 worked great. So we started with the boys - feet on the other boys' upper back. That seems important, feet lower down the back and the stomach won't rise properly due to the weight.
Then it's a "simple matter" of pushing up to the high plank. It really is NOT easy. Careful weight distribution is essential - we weren't that careful. Coordinated lifts probably helps a bit too. It took a few attempts to get all 3 boys in a good plank position, and about half a second for them to come crashing back down to the gym floor.
We moved on to the girls.
One group got it straight away. Well done Hannah Newnham (Arm), Scarlett Laver (Adw), and Daisy Guttridge (Edl). Not only that, they were able to hold it long enough to get a photo or 5. We even had them move on to a more advanced version (see the photo). Not only a no-feet plank, but one foot raised too.
That only leaves the question: can they walk the triangle round in a circle? Maybe one for another time.
In the background you can see the other girl group managing to hold the triangle long enough for a photo. Further back the boys peaked too soon - they did manage to hold it for a few seconds, honest they did!