Doncaster DARTES duo strike gold in Nationals

Max Litchfield: Claimed the first of the club's three gold medals
Max Litchfield: Claimed the first of the club's three gold medals

DONCASTER DARTES’ ace Max Litchfield claimed the town’s first national swimming title since 1997 when striking gold in his favourite 200m Individual Medley at the National Youth (15-18 years) Championships at Ponds Forge.

Litchfield, who had reached two finals in the European Junior Championships immediately prior to the Sheffield event, also picked up a silver medal in both the 1,500m and 400m Individual Medley finals.

In all, the Doncaster teenager competed in eight events during the Championships reaching the final in everyone of them.

His three medals meant that DARTES finished seventh in the medal table.

Jessica Gillatt, Shannon Dodson and Caitlin Dixon, who all had birthdays in the weeks prior to the Championships, were among the youngest swimmers in their respective 15-16 year age group and were always going to be facing the odds.

Dixon, however, reached two semi-finals and the others swam superbly in their heats.

Jamie Clarke and Richard Lee also suffered from being at the younger end of their age groups, but also swam well.

All five will be eligible for next year’s Championships at the same age group.

If the older end performed well in the Youth Championships that was even more the case in the Age Group (14 years and under) Championships.

Star of the show was Jarvis Parkinson.

There had been competition all year between him and Litchfield as to who would qualify for the most events, Litchfield eventually pipping him 13-11.

The highlight of his week also came in the 200m Individual Medley where he too struck gold just days after his older club-mate.

He did it in quite some style. He was ahead of British Age Group record pace through the first 100m, but lost ground slightly in the breaststroke and eventually finished within a second of the National standard.

He was back on the final day to contest the gruelling 400m version. He again left rivals trailing in his wake as he sliced 13 seconds off his previous best time when clocking an impressive 4 minutes 46.17 seconds.

He also reached the finals of the other five events he contested, winning two silver medals and a bronze.

Team-mate Alex Pollard, contesting his first National Championships, proved the surprise packet in the 200m backstroke when snatching a silver. He also made the final of the 100m race.

Another newcomer at this level, George Scatchard, reached the semi-finals of the 100m backstroke.

Joe Litchfield, Max’s younger brother, dominated the 13 and Under County and Regional Championships throughout the season, but it was always going to be a big ask to repeat his success on the National stage after jumping an age-group just weeks before the event.

Even so, he managed to reach the final in three of the seven events he contested despite being the youngest swimmer in the field.

DARTES finished fifth-placed club in the age-group rankings crowning a highly successful Nationals in both events.

The club, who sent a record number of elite swimmers to the respective championships, were rewarded with three gold, five silver and a bronze medals - their second best tally.

They also recorded 11 top-ten finishes.