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Articles by Dartes Swimmers Past and Present

Every now and again, someone pops up out of the deep end and writes an article for the website. Sometimes these are former Dartes swimmers with happy memories to share. Often they're current members with something special or interesting to shout about. Either way, if it's interesting and in some way connected to Dartes or Doncaster Swimming, we'll probably publish it.
Here's one of those articles.

The Stories behind the Headlines


The end of summer is always a sad period in swimming. Not only are dark early mornings staring at you again, but its the time when old favourites run off to university. Especially sad when those swimmers have been around long enough to work with 3 different Head Coaches.

Team photo to start the 2008 season It hasn't happened for a while, but the ages within the Dartes squads are increasing to the point where this is going to happen more and more. This summer starts us off with the departure of Emma Humphreys, part of our 2010 National Squad and a firm favourite in our training lanes with a beaming smile for everyone.

She asked if she could share a few memories and say goodbye to everyone properly.
How could we refuse?
So here she is.

Author: Emma Humphreys
Date: July 2012

The End of an Era

These days I think I'm probably thought of as the club's Grandma trailing along at the back of the lane, and it's hard to remember the days when I could actually swim without feeling like I was drowning. But I'm pretty sure there was once a time when swimming 200m Freestyle didn't make me out of breath!

Emma in Paphos Katie and Emma: Newbies at Middlesbrough Back in the day when I wore armbands I was that child who cried on the poolside and hated the thought of swimming and getting splashed in the face. But many lessons of crying later I managed to ditch the armbands, get my 10m award and I was soon on my way to Rossington Swimming Club. I made many great friends there and enjoyed swimming competitively. The club has great team spirit and I would like to thank Linda Wilson, Brent and Heather Newby and Ian Gordon for all the hours they put in to coaching me in the early days, and the continued support the club has had for me whilst swimming at DARTES.

It wasn't long before Derek was coaching me on a Tuesday evening at St James under the watchful eye of Mick Gartside and competing in galas all over the country. I still remember my first gala at Harrogate and how I walked on to poolside and saw the big yellow touch pads at the top of pool. I just turned to my mum and said: "How am I supposed to reach the top of them when I turn?"

Although the one thing I was sure of, at ten years old, was that I definitely was not going to wake up at 4 o'clock in the morning to go swimming!

How things changed!

Bad Hair Day Departure Lounge Gymnastics heading to Paphos Head Coach Mick Gartside soon called it a day after many volunteered years at Dartes and Roy Shepherdson was appointed to take over. Whilst I didn't make it to the top squad coached by Roy, I clocked up some metres under the guidance of Andrew Wallace. At this point I strongly believed I was a Breastroker and knew exactly how far away I was from the all-important National Qualifying Time.

One session I remember having a team talk and Andy told us we shouldn't single out a certain stroke too young because things change, and how he thought maybe one day I would be a Butterfly swimmer. I think I laughed at this and wondered how much more wrong he could be. I mean, Fly was a hard stroke!

Again, how things changed!

Later I remember being told I was able to move into the top squad, and how it wasn't going to be easy. But I thought to myself "I can do it, how hard can it be?"

I had to push myself: 2 strokes in [to turns without breathing], 2 strokes out [of turns without breathing], 10 metres [underwater], and stroke counts! It was tough, but eventually it got easier and my times improved.

After a few years coached by Roy, he decided to move on and Andy became Doncaster DARTES Head Coach. I was still not certain I was a Fly swimmer and always bottled it on the tougher sets, until one session came along and it was 20x100m max effort. That was hard on any stroke but Coach Andy made me do Fly!
I couldn't believe it.
20x100m, max effort.
Doing Fly!
I finished it though, and was quite proud of myself, but that was it, from then on it was Fly.

One heart rate set was 10x200m and by rep 5 I thought I may die and risked asking coach if I could swap to IM. Guess what - he said NO!

I remember physically crying and thinking how am I ever supposed to finish this set. I did it though, and after a swim down I'd forgotten the pain and realised it wasn't actually that bad!

Arena League Antics Hey, you can't take photos here - said the Gatwick Security man Never mind all the PBs and medals, one of my greatest accomplishments was the morning of the big 400m time trial. There was no way of getting out of it, I was doing Fly! My heart was racing and people were cheering me on and once again I proved myself wrong. It is one of those mornings I still get reminded of and I am proud to say I completed it.

Each September we'd all sit down as a squad and write down our targets for the season and mine was always "Get to the Nationals". Everyone always told me I was one of those swimmers that had to wait and I'd get better with age. Eventually, after years of near misses and a few more tears, all the hard work paid off and I achieved my goal. I'd made it for the 200m Butterfly and I couldn't stop smiling.

Later on in the season I thought I'd be brave and do a 400m IM. I'm not going to lie, I hated this event, but I wasn't all that bad at it, so I entered. I knew I wasn't far from the National Time, but couldn't believe it when I looked up at that scoreboard and there it was. I'd waited all this time to get just one NQT, and now I had two! I was smiling all over again.

Swimming at DARTES has given me so many great friends, many that I know I will have for a very long time, and opportunities that I probably would never have got with any other sport. I've been given the chance to train abroad in Calella, Cyprus, Sardinia, and Majorca and they are weeks I will never forget. Shorter trips such as the chaperone meets to Middlesbrough were also great opportunities and I believe swimming has helped my application to university a great deal.

It has made me that bit more independent and has made me learn to manage my time well. Everyone will probably know it is hard to manage between swimming, school and then organising to meet up with school friends. It is hard for them to understand how much work you have to put in and I've heard it so many times "can't you just miss a session?" or "why do you have to compete in all the galas?" and at the time I felt as if I was missing out on the most important thing in the world. Looking back though there is nothing I would have changed.

A party the weekend before a meet is worth giving up when you achieve a Yorkshire final or a National Time. That's something you will be able to say you achieved forever.

I managed to keep swimming and succeed in my GCSEs and I thought it would be no different for my A-levels. However after my first set of exams I hadn't got the grades I'd hoped for. Something had to go. For me I thought I was ready to let swimming go, but the more I thought about it the less I wanted to give it up. I had done it for 13 years, spent so many hours in the pool and decided swimming in the masters seemed like the best option.

First time on wedge blocks in Mallorca Final day around the freezing Sardinia pool I got the best of both worlds. In terms of my swimming ability I have slowed down quite a lot, but every time I swim I enjoy it. I was so close to packing it in completely and am so glad I decided to carry it on. My school results have also improved and for me this was important.

Any way I've probably bored you all to death but I'd just like to thank everyone, throughout my swimming career, who's helped me get to where I am today. Everyone at Rossington who's helped on poolside at training and galas, and who have supported me for all these years. All the coaches at DARTES over the years: Derek, Roy, Dave and most of all Andy who's coached me for most of my swimming career. Without him pushing me on, I would not have achieved what I have today. Also to the noisy parents on the balcony at galas banging the cowbells and cheering me on. We may not be able to hear you individually, but we know you're there!

Meets would not be as organised without Pete Litchfield on poolside along with the help of Big John, Leanne and Keith. So a big thank you to them. A special thank you to Helen and Chris Smith, without you I would not have made it to training. Most of all my family, particularly my granddad, mum, dad and brother who have made sacrifices themselves and have supported me all these years.

So it is an end of an era at Doncaster DARTES and I'm off into the big world and making my way to university. I will come back and see you all when I'm back in Doncaster and if I've not slowed down too much I might have to have a paddle. Keep swimming well and I expect to see a few names in big lights in a few years' time.