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News November 2020

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

Resistance Band Work

11 Nov 2020: With Lockdown 2 underway it feels traditional at Dartes to post a video. So here's Head Coach Dave to talk you through a selection of resistance band exercises. Bands are a very handy tool for maintaining healthy shoulders, and as that is an area of grave concern for swimmers that's what we've focused on in this video. Pay attention to the detail to understand why each exercise is important.

As stated many times throughout this video, there's no reason to go for a heavy resistance band. This isn't about body building, it's about activating muscles that should be performing a role that often gets neglected. Training these relatively weaker muscles to keep the shoulder joint stable is critical for a long swimming career. For most exercises shown, 2 to 4 sets of 20 reps is ideal. Maybe pick one each day, perform it extremely well, and keep on cycling through the list.

It's easy to almost copy the moves, wave your arms about, and get absolutely nothing from it. Slow, controlled, focused movements are the key. Try to understand the commentary and follow the cues.

Lockdown 2, Week 1

8 Nov 2020: Now that lockdown 2.0 is upon us, here is our dryland Zoom schedule. Just like the first lockdown, these sessions will be run by Coach Dave while Coach Jordan returns to furlough. As ever, attention to detail and quality of work is the order of the day during these sessions. You will be watched closely throughout and any poor technique will be highlighted and hopefully improved. That said, with our younger athletes, having a parent supervising in-person (or even joining in) is recommended.

Last time round we made big strength gains over lockdown, so embrace it and dive in.

We'll start off with 6 sessions for Phase 5. Phase 4 can have 3, and Phases 1-3 will get 2. This may change as we go forwards depending on the numbers getting involved.

Mon17:15 - 18:00Phase 4
18:15 - 19:00Phase 5
Tue17:15 - 18:00Phase 1-3
18:15 - 19:00Phase 5
Wed17:15 - 18:00Phase 4
18:15 - 19:00Phase 5
Thu17:15 - 18:00Phase 1-3
18:15 - 19:00Phase 5
Fri17:15 - 18:00Phase 4
18:15 - 19:00Phase 5
Sat10:00 - 10:40Phase 5

Zoom meeting room details are being emailed out during Sunday 8th, if you don't have those please shout out beforehand. You can test your connection prior to the workout, if you get as far as "Coach Dave's waiting room" you're all set. Having your camera turned on will allow for easy technique corrections.

For those joining our Zoom workouts for the first time, rest assured it works well and saves a lot of travelling. All you need is enough space to lie flat with your arms spread wide. An exercise mat is beneficial but not essential (the thicker they are, the more comfort they provide - 15mm is optimal but not necessary). Having a sturdy chair close at hand for tricep dips is useful (test the sturdyness beforehand). We've discovered over the weeks of doing this that bed frames work too, as do firm sofas. Parents should supervise what gets used to avoid damage to athlete and/or furniture.

Phase 5 will be using resistance bands, Phase 4 may be doing so too. The general recommendation is based on Meglio resistance bands but other brands and styles are available and do the same job. For the work we'll be doing, aim for the equivalent of Meglio's medium strength (green), and if you're feeling extravagent get a heavy (blue) and light (red) as well. The older guys might need to swap the light for a x-heavy (black). A 2m length will be ideal and should last you years, the shorter 1.2m length will quickly become restrictive. Obviously the wider your wing span, the longer the band should be. You will then need something to attach it to - doors are ideal. Tie one end around a rolled up towel, then thread the free end between the door and the door jam from the back of the door, then close the door. That should firmly hold the band in place and allow for any height you might need.

Don't forget a drink!

Just like last time, we're throwing a press-up challenge at you too. Press-ups are the go-to body-weight upper body workout and ideal for swimmers who can't get in the pool. For the young guys they're really tough, for the older guys it's the repetitions that make them tough. We made awesome progress on this last time, so let's do the same thing. Press-ups must always be done with solid technique - we'll talk about that more on Zoom but here's a video to get you started.

For those starting out, aim for 6 really good press-ups. If you can't manage 6 yet, just start with as many as you can do. For those who are already well beyond 6, you should have your own number in mind. Do those reps every day (don't miss a day). Do them as soon as you wake up every morning. Then when Monday pops round, increase the reps by 1, and keep doing that quantity for the rest of the week.

Once you get to 20 reps of good press-ups, then we start counting in sets. 1 set when you wake up, the 2nd set when you get home from school. A 3rd set before bed if you get up to 3x20. Always increase each week for maximum progress.

Here are a few useful links to make sure everyone is prepared:

A Successful Level X Round 1

7 Nov 2020: We had a relaxed plan for completing round 1 of Level X racing by the deadline at the end of November. Then after Phase 5 had opened our account on Saturday 31st, the government looked set to throw a spanner in the works with an imminent new lockdown. Relaxed mode went flying out of the window as we realised all 5 squads needed to complete 9 events (700m of racing) by the middle of the week!

Could it be done?
Just about, if our calculations were accurate.

To add a further complication to the mix, both of our lead coaches plus lifeguard Stacy were booked on to a lifeguard training course that week too. So for Dave and Jordan, their days started on deck at 5am and largely finished at 9pm that evening - being at one or other pools most of the time in between.

For the athletes, we hadn't intended to pack 5 events in to each session either. We were hoping to get a baseline first attempt at each and then cherry pick a few races to go for fast times. We had intended to spread things over 4 weeks - alas, that was not going to be. So not ideal race conditions for Phase 4 and 5 with 5am starts and an action packed 2 hour schedule. Nor was it ideally placed in the training cycle for Phase 5 as we've been ramping up the intensity pretty violently in recent weeks and not paying any attention at all to race skills. So you could say we were caught off guard.

If it wasn't ideal for our top 2 squads, JDS endured a marathon evening of back to back racing on Wednesday. A conveyor belt of swimmers paraded around Thorne, 2m apart of course. In a 3 hour session borrowing time from Phase 5, we managed to squeeze in all 8 or 9 events for our entire junior squads. Many were racing events they hadn't attempted previously while others smashed out PBs here there and everywhere. It was also noisy! Very, very noisy. Who knew such small children could be so loud.

Despite the less than perfect racing conditions, we threw down some fantastic times and enjoy a lot of top 10 rankings in the national event. Not every club got involved with the event of course, many had only just got back in the pool by the time the 2nd lockdown was announced. We've definitely been one of the lucky ones in Doncaster - all credit to DCLT for getting ourselves and our feeder clubs back in the pool. So it's important to keep the results in context - it's a fun way of getting some racing in to our athletes, nothing more.

Earlier in the week we reported having completed 456 race swims. That was a mistake, the numbers got muddled. It was actually 456 PBs performed in that single week (including first time performances on our database). Overall we recorded 699 individual swims (there were at least 3 disqualifications that would tip us over 700).

2 of those 3 DQs would have featured strongly on our records too. Both featured the same dodgy cross over turn in the 100m IM, so we made both culprits swim the event again. They went even faster. A new age-group record for Ella Bainbridge (Arm) and a runner-up spot for Blaine Underwood (Adw). Now we've had 1 or 2 question the legitimacy of records set during Level X racing. The level of judging is no where near as high as a regular licenced meet, and manual timing is clearly not as accurate as a full electronic set up either. However, considering that the current generation are likely missing out on a full year's worth of eligible racing it seems only fair to include these performances. Importantly, many of the records set prior to the turn of the century were also based on manual timing, as are our current Animal Trials.

Speaking of old records, Callum Broadhead (Arm) managed to take down one of the oldest in the book. Way back in 1993, Greg Viercant (Arm) went 56.46 as a 13 year old in 100m Freestyle. In May of 2012, Coach Dave took a bunch of swimmers on a chaperone meet to Middlesboro. As part of that contingent an illustrious group of 13 year old boys set about demolishing Dartes records and meet records. Even our previous sprint monsters Jarvis Parkinson (Arm) and Joe Litchfield (Drn) could only get within half a second of Greg's fastest time at that meet. A time that was also set in the North East (Gateshead). So to see Callum knocking another half second from that record was pretty special.

That was just 1 of 4. We knew they were coming, he'd almost hit a few of them in training once or twice. At the time of writing, those 4 club age-group records also place him top of Level X too (50m Butterfly, 50m and 100m Freestyle, 100m IM). His 2nd spot on the Dartes rankings for 50m Backstroke, also sees him top the Level X rankings.

His usual racing double act Luke Gilliver (Drn) was freshly returned from pandemic isolation, and therefore struggled to hit the same lofty heights like a number of others. If we can get a big block of training in to Luke after this lockdown, he'll soon be back to racing fast - but 7 sessions every week is now critical for his development if he's going to keep pace with his peers.

That said, Luke still managed some excellent Level X rankings:

Going back to Ella, her 100m IM time was her only Dartes age-group record from these time trials. However, that also places her 2nd fastest in our open age category behind the time set by Laura Brookes (Edl) at the National Winter meet in 2015. It's also one of 6 runner-up performances for Ella on our top 6 lists from this week. Excellent performances from her, and just look at her Level X rankings to date:

That IM swim for Blaine also puts him in the top 15 for Level X, and his 50m Breaststroke (4th on our records) leaves him in the top 25 for Level X (as did his 100m, and 100m Butterfly).

For Molly Chambers (Drn) it's been a long and painful road back to her best. Our former British Summer Champs competitor has suffered with a hard to diagnose injury/illness for the last season or two making training very difficult. In turn race performance levels have suffered and she's struggled to hit her best times. Despite the pandemic though, Molly has started this season brilliantly with some truly breathtaking early Fly sets. Here's hoping we can give her a final season at Dartes to send her off to uni with a smile and get her back to British Summer Champs.

She didn't quite manage to break 1:05 for the 100m Butterfly, but 1:05.02 is a quarter second PB from nearly 3 years ago. Likewise, she didn't quite manage to break 30sec for the 50m Butterfly despite 5 attempts at 30 point something. An agonising 30.00 is another quarter second PB in the 50 though. She'll be back doing those tough fly sets once lockdown is over, and all being well, these PBs will continue to fall.

Her top 10 placings on Level X so far, look like this:

For a few it was a question of: "How do I get up and race at 5am in a time trial?" Followed by: "How do I swim fast when there are two swim down lanes next to me?". There may even have been a little bit of: "But I've got school in a couple of hours!" and "Can we turn off the blower in lane 2?" Like we said earlier, these were far from perfect racing conditions.

For Madison Johnson (Arm) this was also the first time she's raced in 12 months having put some serious training inside herself. Last season was largely written off after some mysterious, COVID-like illness that swept through Phase 5 like wildfire during/following October's training camp. She was left flat on her back for what seemed like months leading up to the first lockdown. These time trials were her first opportunity to show what she can do after training like a beast for a few months. We suspect she put herself under too much pressure - we know she will go much, much faster, but 5 Top 10 Level X rankings is a good start.

She has only just turned 15 and already making her presence felt on the Dartes Top 6 lists. 0.09sec was the distance from taking the 50m Butterfly record. Straight in at 5th for the 100m version. Then squeezing on to the list for 50m Breaststroke in 6th spot. Her 5th place on Level X for 100m IM left her 3rd on the Dartes record table. Not a bad opening assault, and with more race practice she'll climb considerably higher.

Another complication with this week's racing was of course the small matter of isolation. Many returned to training after 2 weeks out of the pool to dive straight in to these time trials. We've already mentioned Luke, but Daniel Bailey (Tho) was another. Thrown in at the deep-end as it were, he set our 3rd fastest 50m Backstroke time for a 17 year old for a 27th position in Level X. He also managed to sneak in to the top 20 for the 100m version, 18th currently, and matched that for the 100m IM. The latter also slots him in to 6th on the Dartes 17 year olds list too. Much the same scenario in the same age group for Abigail Kelsall (Edl). She missed the first couple of race days due to isolation, but returned for 3 events and a 6th place on the Dartes all-time lists for 50m Freestyle. All 3 of her swims ranked her top 25 on Level X.

It definitely wasn't just Phase 5 representing on this new virtual competition though. In the 11 year olds Jenson Owen (Edl) was showing off a little too. Sneaking in to the Dartes rankings at number 5 for the 50m Freestyle, he showed a clean pair of heels to the competition in Level X by coming top in the 100m. He enjoyed another 3 top 10 finishes too.

Training partner Jesse Goodwin (Adw) was in on the action too. His 4th place on the Dartes records for 50m Butterfly helped give him 2 top 10 finishes on Level X.

The girls were at it in the 11 year olds age group too. Lots of top 20 placings for them, but unfortunately we're only listing the top 10s here. So for Kennedy Matthews (Arm):

And then for Cazia Martin (Arm):

Despite the rapid-fire nature of the racing for JDS on Wednesday night, we had some brilliant performances there too. Young Archie Ainslie (Ros) stole the Level X show with what currently looks like a 2nd place finish in the 100m Freestyle. He then showed his versatility with 3rd in Breaststroke and 5th/6th in the Backstrokes.

Little Jack Jones (Adw) backed up his JDS partner in the 9 year olds by insisting on racing the 100m Butterfly. We're glad he did, 4th place for him in that, plus 3 other top 10 finishes.

For the girls Phoebe Weatherill (Edl) was there or there abouts in a few, and sneaked inside the top 10 for the 100m Freestyle.

Finally, we come to Thomas Staniforth (Adw) in the 10 year olds for another top 10 finish. Thomas is another who was there or there abouts in a few events, but managed to force himself on to the leaderboard for the Backstroke. Well done everyone.

At this point, it's worth highlighting something for everyone, especially the boys who often forget until it's too late. As you get older, the training becomes more and more important to these performances. Where many young swimmers get used to sweeping the board at 10 or 11 with possibly little training, that does not happen for long. If you want to see your peformances continue as you get older (or hopefully improve) you must do the training.

The boys tend to fall in to that trap much more often than the girls do. You earn your performances, you are NOT born with the gift of fast swimming. And no competition performance really counts until you're 15/16 upwards.

We're publishing this prior to the official end of Level X round 1, so the placings may change a little. There should be no further racing for this round though, the deadline falls within lockdown. Be aware as you read along, that small changes may occur if results are submitted late.

Visit the Swim England website for more details regarding Level X or the rankings website to see where your results place you on Swimming Results.

A Successful Level X Round 1

6 Nov 2020: At the last committee meeting it was decided to continue our relationship with Youth Sport Nutrition. Their club support package has dramatically changed for this year, and we believe it is even better than before as their product line expands. Their in-house nutritionist, Emmy, has even put together 10 different nutrition articles to help you get through lockdown.

Why do we like working with YSN?
Probably the biggest tick for us was that they promote a food first approach to a sports diet, despite them making money from supplements. Next was their target audience: youth athletes (pretty unique within the industry). Another big plus is the abundance of nutrition information presented on their website. For our older athletes we also receive a number of care packages over the year with sample pouches of their PRO-TEEN shake.

The new partnership programme adds a box of delicious NUTRI-TEEN oat bars. We'll shortly be booking in an educational workshop with Emmy the in-house nutritionist at YSN. This will be an online, food-first workshop, and we hope to make it available to everyone.

There's also the YSN Kitchen app to install on your phone to give recipe ideas for nutritious meals at any time of the day. Ideal for parents, coaches, and athletes alike.