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News July 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

Nationals Recap

23 Jul 2019: We started our 2 weeks of National competition in Glasgow with a squad of 5. The remaining 7 would join us at Sheffield in a week's time. For those who have never competed at either of the two big Summer National events, they are a huge step above every other meet you've been a part of. That sounds obvious, but here are a few of those differences; exciting or terrifying you decide. Training day at British Champs

  1. Crowds
  2. Live streaming on YouTube
  3. Live poolside commentary
  4. Loud music and flashing lights
  5. Poolside advertising
  6. Every athlete is ranked Top 50
  7. Big teams you've never seen
  8. Training day before the event
  9. Training continues all week
  10. Blacked-out call rooms
  11. Strict time to be in call room
  12. Finals people want to be in
  13. Medal ceremonies
  14. Athlete only seating
  15. Athlete prep zone
  16. Crowded warm up sessions
  17. Crowded Swim down facility
  18. 1 Full week of racing (twice)
  19. Swimming 1 event per day instead of 4 or 5
  20. GB Internationals everywhere
  21. A few foreign stars too
  22. Athlete accreditation
  23. Warm up starts 7:30am
  24. Finals finish maybe 8pm
  25. 4 hour gaps to fill between heat and finals
  26. Qualification based on rankings not times

You weren't expecting such a long list, were you?

The big one is buried away casually at number 6. It sounds obvious, because that's the selection criteria. But what does Top 50 mean?

British Swimming boasts 11 Regions. Ours is obviously the North East. So 50 swimmers from 11 fairly equally matched regions means ONLY 2 or 3 from each at British Champs, and a similar ratio for English. Everyone at British is essentially top 2 or 3 in their year group at regionals. That's not very many.

If you have ambition of reaching this level, you need to be making yourself the best in the North East in your year group. No excuses, that's what it takes. So how can you make that happen?

Here's a bunch of attributes you need to make better than your competition. Weak areas need fixing, strong areas need to excel further. Let your peers pull ahead on any of them, and you're not likely to earn qualification.

Attribute What it means
Work Ethic Body pushed to the limit daily. No excuses, no missed sessions, no skiving to the toilet during hard sets; set your standard higher than everyone else.
Talent Either raw talent or technique honed by monotonous repetition. By 14, over 3,000 hours of training has given you the opportunity to learn to move through water as efficiently as possible. It still needs years of further improvement.
Skills Pre-pool, warm-up, swim-down, turn speed, start speed, reactions. Attention to detail in and around the pool.
Lifestyle Diet, sleep, general healthy attitude to life. You name it, get the details spot on every time.

Does everyone at this level have all of those ingredients 100%? Of course not. But the older you get, the more complete you have to become. It's a journey, and you're already half way through.

How it all started

Training day at English Nationals A four hour journey to Glasgow ended for the 5 at British Summer Champs on Monday with a gentle warm up swim in the competition pool. The day before racing begins is designated training day at both British and English. A chance for athletes to unwind after long journeys while the pool surroundings are being erected. The photo above is the competition pool at lunch time that day. Nice and serene, barely more than 10 swimmers paddling up and down for most of the day.

By 2pm it was starting to fill up.
We'd arranged 4pm for our paddle, and so had everyone else!
With a technical briefing for coaches at 6pm everyone clearly had the same bright idea. Carnage ensued.

A week later we got it right (photo right). Being a local team to Ponds Forge, we could get in as soon as the doors opened at 10am. We claimed lane 4 and planted a Cohen shaped flag in lane 5 too - why not.

It's important to train through two weeks of Nationals. You can't just stop and rely on racing alone. At this level you might go days into the competition between races - not ideal preparation. Bodies react unpredictably to unexpected rest, so 4k sessions continued.

Glasgow provided a 50m warm up pool in addition to the competition pool. That might sound like a lot of space, and most days were slightly less crowded than Monday at 4pm, but not by much. It was like watching a wildlife documentary on penguins. A wriggling mass of bodies with no water visible between them. Then another penguin dives from the cliff edge in to a hole that doesn't exist (yes dive, head first). Lifeguards and coaches turn away with fingers crossed. Somehow the penguins don't collide, none get hurt, nor show any concern for potential danger. Even David Attenborough would struggle to explain it. Swimmer telepathy perhaps.

The following week the process repeats in a 25m square diving pit. Somehow at half the size it looks more spacious.

On to the Racing

We had a few rabbit in headlights moments at British. A normal reaction from walking out of a black curtained tunnel, having been left in a black curtained call room for 10mins. We made Maddie rehearse the process on Monday as she arrived early. It looked daunting even then, with no one on the balcony. Scarier still with flashing lights and a loud beat accompanying you.

Day 1 saw Ella Bainbridge (Arm) squeeze in to her first final, the 400m IM. 5th place in the evening and a solid PB to start off her campaign. There were more finals to come. All 4 of her events at British and all 4 of her events at English too.

For Ella the highlight came on Thursday in the 200m Butterfly. Qualifying fastest for the final, only CoLeeds' Isabelle Goodwin looked likely to challenge from lane 5. So it proved. A lightening fast opening 15m gave the Leeds girl an unassailable lead from the start. Next season we'll work on countering that, plus a faster front end in general. For now though, a Silver medal is a good start to her Dartes career. She also backed that up with Bronze in the English 100m.

Ella's performances at British inserts her at number 11 on our all-time medal table. She also claims a Dartes ladies record for her Silver medal winning 200m Butterfly, and 4 age-group records (that one, plus 100m Breaststroke, 400m IM, and 200m Breaststroke).

More age-group records were being set by Madison Johnson (Arm) too. After watching Ella's medal winning performance and dancing around like a loon all evening, her nerves settled for the rest of the week and she got down to the business of swimming. A full 1sec PB squeezed her in to the 100m Butterfly final and a 13 years Dartes age-group record dislodged Laura Brookes (Edl) after 5 years. Between that, and a very tired final of the 200m IM at the end of the week, Maddie finds herself pushed up the medal table to 35. For the trivia fans, that's 2 spots above our current JDS Coach Harvey Williamson (Arm) who finished 9th in the finals of the 2014 Nationals at 100m Backstroke.

Her single event at English was the 200m Butterfly. Learning lessons from how Ella was beaten at British perhaps, Maddie went out hard - crazy hard! No one was sure how it would work out, but there's no point qualifying 4th for the final and regretting the result. So instead she touched level first at 50m with Annabelle Wilkinson CoSheffield. Half way and they were still level, the others over a second behind. "No matter how bad you feel, push the 3rd as hard as you can!" Coach Dave can be cruel sometimes, but that's the standing rule for 200s and it earned her a half second lead by 150m. Brave girl. No way was she going to hold on for Gold, but maybe, just maybe!

With 25m to go she was still finger nails ahead, but the fast finishing Freya Johnson was clawing her way back to the leading pair, and Annabelle looked poised to pull away at any moment.

A gutsy swim, and a whopping 6sec PB on the day for a proud Bronze medal after the other two girls cruised by. A 4sec Dartes age-group record too! The girl she toppled from that record was swimming in the next but one final. Hannah Newnham (Arm) added another Bronze medal to the Dartes tally for an event we had 5 competing in over the fortnight. Ajay Scott (Arm) and Molly Chambers (Drn) also reached their finals that day. Ajay setting a half second PB, and Molly achieving a season's best after a very difficult 12 months.

That wasn't all for Molly though. Her 2:24.62 is actually the fastest time ever swum by a 16 old Dartes girl by about 1.5sec. So a good opportunity to introduce two new sets of age-group records: 16 and 17 year olds. We've come to realise that the jump from 15 to open age records is a bit steep. The extra two year bands should provide more motivation for our older athletes.

Following disappointment in last year's 1500m Freestyle at English, Ben Wright (Arm) has spent all season determined to not let that happen again. He narrowly missed qualifying for British, so was ranked very highly at English - but rankings mean very little on the day. His main challengers were all with him in heat 5. His North East rivals Harry Milner CoLeeds was one lane outside, and Brandon Cartwright BoKirklees was in lane 0. The other threat, the boy with the coolest name in the meet Donatas Dragasius was hidden behind a bunch of older boys.

Being able to hide proved the deciding factor inside the finishing 100m. Fairly large gaps between Donatas, Ben, and Harry were eroded in the 2nd half of the race. An exciting fight for the 15 year olds medals which the commentary team missed. A charge at the 800m mark saw Harry half a 6sec gap to Ben in short order. The speed in which he achieved that was frightening, but he couldn't quite close it completely. Then around 1200m Ben decided it was time to catch Donatas, closing his 5sec lead to around 1sec and reversing most of Harry's gains in the process.

A miscalculation may have cost Ben Gold. He was watching an older boy next to the eventual winner. Donatas being hidden from view - mistaken identity. Ben beat his target on the touch, alas it was the wrong target. A brilliant 1500m by all 3 though, and well deserved medals; Silver for Ben.

We also had first timer James Robinson (Adw) in the 1500m. The result was similar to Ben the year before - debut blues. He'll be back next time, and hopefully a few more events too. For the girls Callie Ramshaw (Edl) was feeling confident for the distance Freestyle. 4th in the 1500m, a fraction of a second outside the medals. 5th in the 800m.

Cohen Stephenson (Spa) finished off his season with a good PB in the 100m Butterfly heats. 4 events at British Champs and a further 3 at English is a pretty good tally for his first appearance. Next year will be stronger. Marise Garbutt (Arm) was another first timer having dropped 7secs at NERs to qualify in the 400m IM. Big time drops like that are notoriously difficult to back up next time, and so it proved. She'll be back on that time before long though. Hopefully next season will see her make another appearance at Nationals.

Among the 5 first timers to the National Squad for 2019, Blaine Underwood (Adw) reached his 50m Breaststroke final at the first attempt. He achieved the dubious honour of exactly matching his heat time in the evening. If that wasn't bizarre enough, former Dartes National Squad Oswald Hood (Adw) (away at Uni in Nottingham) did exactly the same in his 50m Breaststroke final. Two boys swimming their final in the exact same time as their heat!

And finally, another 2 English Bronze medals for Chantelle Waugh (Arm). Nerves clearly got the better of her at British, where she admitted to holding back early in each race. No such mistake at English though. Out on PB+1 in the 200m Freestyle on day 1 and a strong backend gave her Bronze number 1 and a new Dartes ladies record. Then in the last final of the day on Friday evening, she was denied Silver by the steam train finishing speed of KuHull's Abbie Bowden. Another Bronze to cap a successful week for her and another of those new age-group records we introduced earlier, this time for the 17 year olds.

The Big Picture

So where does the 2019 Nationals campaign rank with previous years?

It's important to keep it in perspective, we were never expecting to match the glory years in Dartes history - not yet. That will take a few years of work to strengthen the squads throughout the programme. We started the season hoping to double the size of the National Squad, and we achieved that. From 1 at British in 2018 to 5 this time and from 1 event to 16. At English 12 athletes compared to 6, and 25 events against 7. It's a big step forwards, and overall our 5th biggest National Squad on record.


With a long term Head Coach leaving in 2017, we lost most of what would now represent our 16-18 year old medal challengers. It'll be a few years before we see our current athletes feed through and fill those gaps. Once they do, and the fresh young talent emerges in the younger age groups, the shortfall in the size of the National Squad compared with 2015-16 levels should be bridged. For next season, the objective will be to increase the squad size yet again (but not so dramatically, unfortunately). More events should be added by those qualifying this year, new younger qualifiers should be included, plus 1 or 2 more older guys who missed out this time. The challenge then is to push more towards the medals, especially at British. There's a lot more detail to add to training in the coming season, but the base is now in place.

In terms of medals won, you can track progress on our Championship Tradition medal tables. Ella's 200m Butterfly Silver medal brings to an end our medal drought at British that has been ongoing since 2017. We need to be sure we're adding more medals next year. That of course requires better performances at the big meet. At English, we enjoyed our highest medal tally since the meet appeared in 2015. Next year though, most of those medal winners need to be qualifying for British instead, or at least convert more of them to Golds. For 2019 though, a solid result.

The Final Test of the Season

2 Jul 2019: Phase 4 underwent the big 2000m test set for the final time this season, and what a test set it was with only a few unable to set best times this round. Leading the way once again was Callum Broadhead (Arm), going out on a very brave 5:20 over the first 400m, and a little behind was Paula Mellor (Drn), Cody Watkinson (Adw), and Lucie Savage (Adw). All four around 27 minutes which isn’t bad. For reference, the Phase 4 record was set by a 12 year old Ben Wright (Arm) at 25:00.

We described back in November's edition that the target pace should be somewhere around 100m PB + 10 sec (A3). The fitter and better conditioned the athlete, the closer that gets. This of course depends on their 100m PB being up to date, showing a true reflection of what they're capable of.

Overall, an excellent performance right across the squad with the times tumbling down since the last run in April, those towards the bottom of the squad should improve quickly over the next few attempts as their endurance improves allowing them to swim closer to their A3 pace through the whole 2km. For the fitter and stronger athletes, can you hold Anaerobic Threshold (AT) pace next time at 100m PB + 8?

Pos Name Date 800m 1500m 2000m All Time Avg 100m Pace
1 Callum Broadhead 2 Jul 2019 10:56 20:36 27:27 24 (19) 1:22
16 Apr 2019 10:50 20:22 27:02
13 Nov 2018 11:45 22:35 30:03
2 Paula Mellor 2 Jul 2019 11:06 20:53 27:53 33 (34) 1:23
13 Nov 2018 11:00 21:00 28:10
22 Nov 2016 13:38 26:17 34:28
3 Lucie Savage 2 Jul 2019 11:02 20:48 27:54 35 (35) 1:23
16 Apr 2019 12:17 22:37 30:21
13 Nov 2018 13:30 26:11 33:53
4 Cody Watkinson 2 Jul 2019 11:08 20:54 27:56 36 (21) 1:23
16 Apr 2019 11:01 20:29 27:12
13 Nov 2018 12:22 23:20 31:12
5 Alexander Robinson 2 Jul 2019 11:05 21:01 28:07 38 (38) 1:24
16 Apr 2019 11:20 21:24 28:42
6 Megan Wood 2 Jul 2019 10:56 21:03 28:14 40 (40) 1:24
16 Apr 2019 11:18 22:01 29:38
7 Melissa Moreno 2 Jul 2019 11:18 21:14 28:24 44 (44) 1:25
16 Apr 2019 11:34 21:57 29:43
13 Nov 2018 12:18 23:14 32:00
8 Jesse Goodwin 2 Jul 2019 11:38 21:25 28:34 45 (45) 1:25
16 Apr 2019 12:47 22:34 30:04
13 Nov 2018 12:17 23:15 32:00
9 Jack Torrington 2 Jul 2019 12:43 21:54 29:09 55 (55) 1:27
13 Nov 2018 13:49 25:15 32:24
10 Kate Challenger 2 Jul 2019 11:07 21:23 29:19 58 (53) 1:27
16 Apr 2019 11:26 21:47 29:27
13 Nov 2018 11:17 21:36 29:06
11 Amelia Paul 2 Jul 2019 11:51 22:22 29:32 58 (58) 1:28
16 Apr 2019 12:36 22:19 29:58
13 Nov 2018 13:35 25:44 34:55
12 Mila Hughes 2 Jul 2019 11:37 22:00 29:36 59 (59) 1:28
16 Apr 2019 11:17 22:32 30:10
13 Nov 2018 12:14 23:29 32:58
13 Emma Mitchell 2 Jul 2019 11:40 22:18 29:37 60 (60) 1:28
16 Apr 2019 11:36 22:29 29:58
13 Nov 2018 11:20 21:52 29:50
14 Greta Highfield 2 Jul 2019 11:53 22:25 30:07 72 (70) 1:30
16 Apr 2019 12:44 22:28 30:01
13 Nov 2018 13:21 24:54 33:06
15 Erin Napier 2 Jul 2019 12:05 22:50 30:09 72 (67) 1:30
16 Apr 2019 11:24 22:34 29:57
13 Nov 2018 12:05 23:47 31:54
16 Grace Burton 2 Jul 2019 11:51 22:22 30:10 72 (72) 1:30
17 Harrison Maskrey 2 Jul 2019 12:00 23:00 30:32 75 (75) 1:31
16 Apr 2019 12:15 23:11 31:07
13 Nov 2018 13:28 25:40 33:54
18 Violet Sykes 2 Jul 2019 11:52 22:52 30:37 76 (76) 1:31
16 Apr 2019 12:16 23:13 31:47
19 Joe Moore 2 Jul 2019 12:12 23:08 30:47 77 (77) 1:32
16 Apr 2019 12:27 24:03 32:12
13 Nov 2018 13:03 24:50 32:42
20 Ella Calverley 2 Jul 2019 11:34 22:34 30:48 78 (49) 1:32
16 Apr 2019 11:07 21:17 28:48
13 Nov 2018 11:35 22:11 30:50
21 Jack Kelsall 2 Jul 2019 12:20 23:18 31:03 78 (78) 1:33
16 Apr 2019 12:37 24:04 32:34
22 Charlie Finch 2 Jul 2019 12:42 23:59 31:48 82 (82) 1:35
13 Nov 2018 13:13 25:06 33:01
23 Grace Blair 2 Jul 2019 12:40 23:56 32:09 85 (85) 1:36
16 Apr 2019 12:55 25:33 34:12
24 Casper Watkinson 2 Jul 2019 12:48 24:07 32:18 87 (87) 1:36
16 Apr 2019 12:28 24:02 32:26
13 Nov 2018 13:27 25:37 33:57
Click on the name to expand previous results