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News December 2013

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

First Ever National Time for Simon at Leeds

22 Dec: After Friday night, distance night, at the Derventio eXcel meet, it was off to John Charles in Leeds for their Christmas Cracker. Saturday morning saw a different set up than we are used to. The older age group swam in the morning and as the meet was quite poorly attended it was very fast paced swimming race after race. Then they had a 5-hour break before finals, and in that gap the age groupers swam their events.

After short course season through the autumn, long course racing always takes a couple of attempts to get back in to the hang of. But that's the same throughout the World. We've just had the short course world cup series, short course euro champs, and various others; at our domestic level we've had the short course winter championships. Christmas tends to be the trigger to switch from the little pool to the big pool, and here at Dartes we try to follow that trend.

With youth swimmers needing long course qualifying times for Nationals this year, this weekend marked the first opportunity for most of them to put times on the board. Friday night at DX saw distance queens Caitlin Dixon (Arm) and Georgia Wright (Arm) do exactly that in the 800m Freestyle. Georgia continued that form on the Sunday, sneaking inside NQT on the shorter 400m Freestyle final. Two down for her.

The meet was set up specifically to give youth swimmers a rare chance to test themselves on a morning heat, evening finals type structure. That's how nationals is run, and most big international championships are done similarly. At that level, it's important to swim hard in the morning (heats they may be, but an easy swim won't see you progress on the big stage) and then back that up at night. It's a hard format to get used to, so this opportunity with relatively easy to reach finals was not to be missed.

Unfortunately for many, swimming through heats with minimal effort has become something of a habit. Easy for most to reach finals at low level meets and championships, but hit the big stage and suddenly the skills aren't in place to repeat peak performances. Swim down discipline too, another essential element of being able to swim morning heats and evening finals, too often neglected. Hence the need to practice this format at a level where most are able to reach finals and where the gap (for the youths) is big enough to produce a faster second swim.

So, lots to think about for those aiming for the big meets. Make sure you're making the correct choices. Realise that missed training sessions results in slower recovery times as well as slower swimming. On the whole, significantly more focus required from many.

As a club though we came away with lots of finalists, medals and a few early season National Times. Simon Kliment (Arm) made the headline for the weekend, coming away with his first ever NQT. After just missing out on the 200m Butterfly at NERs earlier in the month, he switched focus to the 200m Backstroke this time and dipped under it by 0.65sec. An early Christmas present for him. Three Silver medals (that was one) and a Gold for 100m Butterfly capping off a successful weekend. The meet also left him within shooting distance of qualifying in both Butterfly and Backstroke events! Here's his NQT performance.

We'll have to check how many events Jarvis Parkinson (Arm) has already qualified for courtesy of last season's Nationals, but he definitely added the 200m Butterfly this weekend. He also stood out as being one of those stepping up for finals. More or less on PB pace in the heats, then under or equalling in 4 out of 5 finals. Only the 400m Freestyle a blot on his copy book.

Not contesting as many events, but similarly having a bash at the right approach was George Scatchard (Spa). Knocking off first 1 tenth in the 100m Backstroke heats, then another tenth in the final leaving him an agonising few hundredths away from NQT. He might not be doing his usual trick of leaving qualifying to the last minute this season.

If Simon was the weekend's headline, Laura Brookes (Edl) had the honour of swapping Little Miss Noisy for Little Miss Toughie. 2,000m of racing saw her PB in all but the 200m Freestyle (the last event of the weekend). Close to National Times in pretty much everything, she was just 0.23sec away with a Gold medal winning 100m Butterfly. With a New Year birthday looming this meet was taylor made for her to smash Dartes age-group records, and she didn't disappoint. A solid second and a half under Emma Parker's (Adw) 100m Butterfly standard (she missed the short course equivalent by 0.02 in October), and nearly half a second under the 200m target set by Caitlin nearly 4 years ago. She claimed the short course equivalent to that one a month earlier.

And finally, another significant update to the record tables, this time for Bradley Hurdiss (Drn). Not quite on the top spot, but with the best part of 5 months left for him he's sneaking up nicely. Despite a bad birthday, he's sneaking up on National Times too. Good to see him showing a little Backstroke form at last after a dip in confidence of late. A 6sec PB on the 100m sees him back where he belongs, in the top 3 all time 11 year olds. 3sec off his 200m time puts him 4th on that one too. In both, 1 place behind the best 11 year old times of Mark Beech (Spa), who at that point in 2011 was a double Backstroke Gold medallist at both Yorkshire and NER Championships. Think big Brad, and be confident!

A Silver medal for 200m Breaststroke and a quite enormous 10sec PB also makes him 3rd fastest Breaststroker of all time too. February's Yorkshires will be interesting.

Special mention to Josh Reasbeck (Edl) too. We make it 2,500m of racing over the weekend, including 4 big 400m events! He walked away with a full house of long course PBs.

Another with a big program was Harvey Williamson (Arm). Job for him this weekend really was to notch up as many Yorkshire times as possible. 1,800m of racing, 2 first attempts long course (100m Butterfly and 400m IM) and long course PBs in everything else. Along the way, 6 new long course Yorkshire times (he might already have qualified short course for some, but worth proving to himself he can swim long course too).

This season for Harvey should be about him discovering what he's capable of. Still very new to competition, there are a lot of racing skills for him to learn over the next few months. It would be nice to have him knocking on the door of National Times come NERs in June. For him, and all those other inexperienced competitors out there, just a little reminder not to compare short course times with long course. Just because the events share the same name, doesn't mean they are the same. Even converted times don't give a true indication. Only ever compare like with like - long course with long course; short course with short course.

Early Season National Qualifying at Derventio

20 Dec: The weekend before Christmas, what were you doing?
For our athletes it was action packed and full of racing. A select few began their festive treat on the Friday evening around 6pm. Nothing too taxing, just a 1500m for Oswald Hood (Adw) and an 800m for the girls. Nice to have another option for the distance swims, thanks Derventio for including it.

Os was quite lucky - although he probably wouldn't agree. He got to race first and go home early. He's done it a couple of times short course before (3rd fastest 11 year old in Dartes history) but this was his first time in the big pool. He was heard muttering the words "Never again" as he came back from his race; which we think means he enjoyed it.

Next up were the twins, both earning tidy PBs. But whereas Laura Brookes (Edl) claimed the 12 year Dartes record at NERs for her short course effort, this time she was just 5sec away from the long course record, leaving her in 3rd spot on our records and 5th on the day's results. Amber Hardy (Adw) dropped 44sec since her last attempt to finish just 17sec behind for 8th place.

What seemed like an eternity later, when in reality it was about 9pm, Georgia Wright (Arm) achieved her first NQT of the season, at the first opportunity for the event. Her time of 9:18 makes her the 2nd fastest 15 year old girl Dartes has produced, the fastest went in the next heat. Caitlin Dixon (Arm) also qualified for Nationals. A little outside her club record PB, but good enough for this stage of the season and nice to get an early National Time under the belt. Just like Laura, she too finished 5th on the day.

We strongly advise everyone in Phase 4 to have a crack at the 800m/1500m Freestyle at least once per year. It can seem daunting, but the training we do is geared around preparing swimmers to be successful at these events. If you focus on the big Freestyles and the big medley at a young age, as you develop you'll be confident to cover the entire range of events. Don't limit yourself to the easy options. These events are often a relatively easy way to claim medals at Yorkshire and NER Championships as few people are brave enough to attempt them.

Don't be scared, have a crack at them and you'll wonder what all the fuss is about.

Is 3rd Enough for National Final?

14 Dec: We went in to the North East regional final of the National Arena Swimming League equal 3rd on league points with Borough of Kirklees, but a couple of gala points behind. With the resurgence of the BoK programme under new Head Coach Mark Lappin we fully expect them to be a strong challenge this season; not just in this league, but on the big Championships Top Club tables too. One of Yorkshire's traditional giants has reawakened.

Come the regional final though we pulled out a lead for ourselves. By this season's standards a substantial lead with a gap more than 3 times bigger than the previous two rounds - 7 points! A disqualification for a dodgy take over on the final bunch of relays was all it would have taken to lose 3rd place.

With a few lingering injuries and illnesses at the start of this season, we still haven't been able to bring out the full battle squad. We did do enough to finish as the top short-course programme in the North East again though. We need to be working harder than ever to make sure that status remains with us. As the smallest club taking part from Yorkshire, numbers are definitely not on our side! We need to make up for low numbers with increased quality - that's the job of every swimmer in the programme.

1City of Leeds238
2City of Sheffield217
3Donc Dartes174
4Borough of Kirklees167
5City of Newcastle154
6Gateshead and Wickham84

So what happens next?

All the results from the regional finals around the country will be entered in to a virtual national meet. The top 20 or so teams from that virtual meet will be selected for the National A and B finals at Ponds Forge in the new year. City of Leeds and City of Sheffield are almost guaranteed a spot on national final day - both might even make it in to the A final.

We usually just miss out, to be found in the top 10 teams that don't quite make it.

So overall another strong showing in the regional rounds for 2013. If we want to hold on to 3rd position next year though, you all have an awful lot of work to do.

Yorkshire Record and NER Medals

1 Dec: We had a busy weekend in Sunderland for North East Regional Championships. The medal haul from this weekend of short course action and the summer long course championships leaves us with our 2nd highest total on record behind last year's phenomenal tally. With the departure of a World Junior Championships Gold medallist at the end of the summer, there was always going to be a little dip this time. Our youngsters stepped up though, lots of first time medallists, and veterans adding to their usual collection.

In addition to the medals, we were in record breaking mood.

6 Golds for Joe Jarvis faces off with Alex, Amber and Laura look amused Arguably the highlight of the weekend was Jarvis Parkinson (Arm) claiming another Yorkshire short course junior record on his way to winning the 200m Freestyle. Once confirmed, that will give Dartes 7 of the 18 short course standards - pretty special, but also plenty more to aim at! He takes that record from a certain Mathew Johnson of Team GB fame and previously BoKirklees, CoLeeds, CoSheffield, and now University of Bath.

Obviously that Gold was a Dartes 15 year olds record too, as was his Bronze in the 100m, shaving 0.20sec from the mark laid down by Joe little over 1 month earlier.

Maybe that was JP's retaliation for Joe beating him twice in the Medleys. A dominant Dartes display to win Gold and Silver in both 200m and 400m versions - with the junior Dartes boys beating even the senior challenge. For Joe Litchfield (Spa) though, another 4 Golds to come (6 in total) including another Dartes age-group record for 200m Breaststroke.

It hardly seems right to mention their success without including their usual championships partner in crime - separated today by a later birthday. Down the other end of the pool, racing in the age-group championships was Alex Pollard (Arm), glandular fever now seemingly behind him, getting back to winning ways in high class competition; a Silver in the 100m Freestyle the only blot on his copy book. Awesome underwater work and classy swimming helped him to 5 Gold medals; even if he did allow Richmond Dale's George Catterall to believe he was about to do the Freestyle double until Alex zoomed past on the final turn of the 200m.

Good though those 3 performances were, we do sort of expect it from those boys. Our Swimmer of the Meet was destined to be female this time.

We had candidates.

Katie, Simon, Alex and Os, with a few friends in Mallorca It wouldn't be Katie Pendlebury (Arm), despite claiming two 14 year old Dartes Butterfly records - the 100m had stood since 1989. What Laura had failed to do at the Mets for the 12 year olds, Katie did in the 14s - Pam Trickett (Drn) is beaten - by 0.03sec!

Nor would it be Shannon Dodson (Adw), despite bringing home Backstroke Silver and Bronze and setting a senior Dartes record in the 200m for the better of the two.

In fact, the honour would be hard to call between our two newly crowned distance queens. Both racing through 2,500m over the weekend: Georgia Wright (Arm) in the Senior pool, Laura Brookes (Edl) in the age group pool. Georgia set senior Dartes records at 400m and 800m Freestyle with a Silver and 3 Bronze but also, rather symbolically, she takes the Dartes girls under 9mins for the first time. Nail biting for Laura's parents! Laura meanwhile, was taking advantage of her up-coming birthday to set a few age-group records of her own. The 200m, 400m, and 800m fell to the noisy one! Three Golds for those, plus a sprint Freestyle Silver and another for the 200m IM.

So 13 Dartes records later let's finish off the medals.

In the Senior pool we had Caitlin Dixon (Arm) also contesting the 800m Freestyle. A bit of a distance Freestyle legacy brewing you might say. Caitlin held the Dartes record before having it snatched away by Georgia on Saturday. With those two girls competing side-by-side and the up and coming threat of Laura snapping at their heels, it'll be interesting to see what the record can be pushed down to. For this weekend though, Caitlin took home a Senior Bronze.

We had plenty of drama in the age-group pool too. A bunch of 11/12 year old boys have had our eye for a while.

Simon Kliment (Arm) has a perfect birthday for Nationals, but he seems in no mood to rest on his laurels and leave it until the last minute. It's December and he's hungry for NQT. 200m Butterfly saw him set a PB of over 6sec (a month ago he knocked off 7) to take the Silver in 2:32.60. A 2:32.08 would have meant NQT number 1 for him!

Let's use that swim to demonstrate a lesson in pacing. Despite being the ever so painful 200m Butterfly, we asked him to attack it in the same manner as any other 200m race. That meant 100m PB + 2-3sec at the half way turn, then to push himself to the limit through the 3rd 50m. Usually, there's a tendency to back off out of the half way turn (on any stroke - but massively on Fly). You see that in splits all the time. It's not surprising, you're only half way through and it's hurting - your brain automatically switches to survival mode, and that says: slow down!

Distance Queen Gerty Fabulously Flying Pendledode Do that though and you'll have too much energy left for the last 50m and you won't be able to make use of it all. You need to over-power your brain's sub-conscious reaction, and push extremely hard through the 3rd quarter of the race just to keep the pacing even.

The objective (usually) is three identical 50m splits to finish.

Simon went: 33.79, 39.50 (1:13.29 is PB +1.5), 40.14, 39.17.

So let's put that in context with a little analysis. We're going to be picky; compare this with your own splits and learn.

Firstly he went out faster than target pace by a good second. That would usually suggest the back-end is going to be painful (especially on 200m Butterfly). Simon managed to hold it together and come back strong suggesting his 100m PB isn't a true reflection of what he's capable of.
Lesson 1: his 100m PB is likely to drop soon.

Next, his 3rd 50m slows by over half a second - that's the sign that he's backed off (normal response, but we need to control that better). Add to that a final split that's over 1 sec faster and we can say that the 3rd 50m is much too slow. Don't get excited though, by "much too slow" we're talking about half a second. Try judging that right when you're exhausted - told you we were being picky.

This isn't criticism of Simon's performance - which was superb - but we know he'll be wanting to see how to knock off the half second he needs for an NQT. With experience and practice his pacing will improve, but his attempts to date have already been pretty good.
Lesson 2: get serious about that 3rd 50m, you really do have to be brave.

Breaststroking Brad Golden Oliver In addition to that Silver, he also took Bronze in both Backstroke events. He's now within 2sec of NQTs in those too.

We said there's a bunch of 11/12 year old boys we're keeping a close eye on. Here's another of them. Bradley Hurdiss (Drn) appears to have ditched Backstroke in favour of Breaststroke these days. There lies a warning for all young swimmers (and their parents). Your favoured stroke will change a lot before you're 14. That's one of the reasons we insist on everyone covering every event on the programme over the course of the season.

To most of us, there isn't much difference between two 5th places for Backstroke, and 2nd and 3rd for Breaststroke - except for a couple of shiny metallic souvenirs. But you try telling that to a Yorkshire Silver medallist.

Insistance on covering every event on the programme also helped Oliver Vodden (Adw) to a Gold medal that wasn't entirely Breaststroke. He had the qualifying time, he entered the dreaded 400m IM.
No other 10 year old was brave enough.
Job done!

All you young swimmers shying away from the Animal events (200m Fly, 400m IM, 800/1500m Freestyle) pay attention. Everyone else shies away from them too. Make an early name for yourself by not being scared, give them a go - one day you might have a pleasant surprise!

Back to those 11/12 year old boys (yep, there's more), and Robbie Casson (Adw) wasn't going to miss out on the fun - despite spending far too much time telling everyone about the Premier Inn ball pit. A Backstroke Silver for him, this time in the 100m.

Tired Os on camp in Mallorca A little shocked? Which brings us to our final pair of medallists. Oswald Hood (Adw) earned himself a Silver and Bronze at the Long Course version of these championships back in June. This weekend an 8sec PB wasn't quite enough for a similar reward in the 200m Breaststroke, leaving him 5th behind a Leeds quartet. A 100m PB at the half way mark did suggest Sunday's 100m might deliver something shiny - and it did: Bronze, just a finger nail short of Silver.

We've had a gradual increase in the number of entries at NER short course over recent years. From 74 in 2009, up to 97 this weekend. It's always good to see the first time qualifiers getting in amongst the medals. It does their confidence the world of good, and well, we like medals. Charlotte Howard (Arm) racked up 6 events at her first regional champs and produced big PBs in 4 - the other 2 events we'll pass off as, err, experience. A Bronze in 400m IM and a Silver in 100m Backstroke making her intentions clear prior to the start of long course season. It'll be interesting to see if her 100m Backstroke time continues to fall at its recent alarming rate, 4sec is now all she needs for her first NQT.