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Dartes Performance over the Years

For over 40 years the Dartes training scheme has evolved in to what it is today. A collaboration between numerous clubs throughout the largest Metropolitan Borough in the country.

A History of Performance

How it all Began

In 1976, the small village clubs of the Doncaster Metropolitan Amateur Swimming Association (DMasa) were finding things difficult competing against Yorkshire's big city clubs. Their solution was to band together so that all of Doncater's swimmers could compete as one -- DARTES is the result.

The Early Years

Up until the mid 1980s, most training was still undertaken by the local clubs with relatively little water time available to the training scheme. Even so, with coaches of the calibre of Bill Mosey and Hans Hindle, the club became a dominant force at Yorkshire & NEC Championships and Open Meets across the North East. Not to mention being regularly represented at Nationals.

The Golden Period (Part 1)

Up to that point, the club's most successful years spanned the late 1980s and 1990s. Mick Nicholson's tenure as head coach saw our arrival at Hall Cross School's pool as well as our first National Champion in Pamela Trickett (Drn).

In 1987 (with financial aid from Doncaster council) Paul Bright was appointed as full time head coach. Under his guidance the club soared to new heights (5 individual national champions in 1992 and again in 1995, along with 30/19 individual NEC gold medals in those same years).

It was during this period that Emma Parker (Adw) collected 8 National Gold medals which would see her top the Dartes medal table until 2016. Dartes also boasted a number of junior internationals during this period.

The New Millenium

With the withdrawal of council funding, Dartes returned to a purely volunteer coached club. Mick Gartside stepped up to the plate at the end of the 1990s to help the club through what was probably it's most challenging period. Despite the difficult times, Mick Guided our swimmers to Nationals and picked up many medals at Yorkshires and North Easterns along the way.

A Plan for Swimming

During most of the early years of the new century, the DMasa and Doncaster Council were negotiating a swimming development plan for the Doncaster borough. This eventually resulted in the council employing a full time Swimming Development Officer. Then, in September of 2005, they also provided a full-time Head Coach in Roy Shepherdson.

Roy lead the club forwards for the next 2 years. A major restructure of the club took place to make it a more focused, elite, performance orientated training programme. He introduced additional morning training, the notion of compulsory hours, and even greater hours than those available to the top squad during the 1990s. In short, Dartes became a programme comparable in structure to many of the top clubs in the country.

Unfortunately, with just 2 years at the helm before a return to his home club Kingston upon Hull, Roy didn't reap the rewards from the changes he made. Instead, that would come over the next 10 years.

The Golden Period (Part 2)

With the departure of both the SDO and then later Roy in November 2007, council funding disappeared and the club was left alone to replace a full-time position. At the time, the club had been investigating ways to fund a part-time assistant coach position for Andrew Wallace. Negotiations for funding via the North East Region were almost complete as Roy left, and that funding quickly shifted to the full-time role instead.

Andrew was appointed Head Coach and took responsibility for the top squad and older half of the club, with long term volunteer David Cuthbert continuing in an assistant coach role with the younger half of the club. Over the next 10 years the club grew in size. It took on more pool-time to accommodate a larger Junior Development Squad overseen by Kevin Nicholas. That allowed more focused roles for Andy to concentrate on Phase 5 and Dave to concentrate on Phase 4.

Medals at National level began to roll in. After a 15 year wait for National Gold, 2012 delivered 3! Max Litchfield (Spa) and Jarvis Parkinson (Arm) spearheaded a medal charge that would eventually see Jarvis topple Emma Parker from the top of the Dartes medal table.

It was a period that enjoyed a 6 year spell of Dartes boys being selected for British Junior teams. A number of British age-group records were claimed, and more boys Yorkshire short-course records were owned by Dartes than any other club.

After 10 years at the helm of another Dartes Golden Period, Andy left for a post with British Swimming.

The Present Day ...

With Andy's departure a number of top older athletes decided to hang up their goggles (as also happened after Roy's departure in 2007). There was a 12 month spell under the leadership of Matthew Cross before once again looking for a new coaching team.

For the 2019 season, long-term volunteer Dave Cuthbert was appointed Head Coach responsible for Phase 5, while JDS Coach Jordan Allerton was awarded the full-time Assistant Head Coach position and promoted to Phase 4. Half way through the season former Nationals star Harvey Williamson came on board to run JDS.

Their first season saw the club's best ever results from NER Age-Group Championships and a welcome return to double digit National Squad representation. The focus of the Dartes scheme remains on elite, performance swimming (County level and upwards) leaving Doncaster's clubs to provide opportunities up to County level.