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Olympian Max Litchfield visits Armthorpe

posted 8 Oct 2016, 02:55 by Clive Greenhalgh

1 Oct 2016: Since his return from the Rio Olympic Games, former Dartes star Max Litchfield (Spa) has been busy giving talks here there and everywhere. From his old school, to being featured at the BSCA Conference by Coach Russ Barber (his current coach as a senior international in Sheffield). But this weekend's talk took him right back to his roots. Not at the Doncaster club where he first appeared in competitive swimming (Spa Askern), but at a club he swam against many times in the Pocklington Times League for nearly a decade.

All credit to Armthorpe Chairman Pete Hardy and his team of volunteers for making this event happen.

We're sure Max relished the opportunity to return to a pool where he raced (and often beat) many Armthorpe stars over the years in local league galas. For extra spice, many of those tussels involved him racing the coach Pete arranged for this event, British Masters record holder and former Armthorpe Head Coach Dave Holmes. Some may still remember the electric head-to-head league races the two enjoyed. Honours probably finished just about even between them!

The talk focussed on Max's journey from learn to swim at the old Minsthorpe pool just to the North of Doncaster. Then on to his days with Askern Spa and Dartes. The talk finished up with the final leg of his journey, down the M18 to join one of the country's top senior programmes under the guidance of Coach Russ Barber at City of Sheffield. And of course, his recent success at the Rio Olympic Games.

Then it was question time and challenging queries from the kids about how he deals with nerves before a race. Not surprisingly, considering the number of hours involved with making it to the pinnacle of the sport, parents wanted to know how he managed to balance his school work with swimming.

Before the pool session, the young swimmers (and parents too) had the opportunity for photographs and autographs with Doncaster's inspirational athlete. Among them was Nicholas Honeybone (Arm)

or Cyril to his friends, before following Max's lead by competing at Winter Yorkshires all weekend - the autographed kickboard also finding its way to the swim down pool!

Next, attention turned to the pool. Coach Dave Holmes led the session, running through a number of drills for the different strokes. Max provided a demonstration of 200m IM, followed by a super-fast sub 1 min (from a push) 100m variant to show everyone an Olympian in full flow.

As you can imagine, the session was very well attended by Armthorpe as well as Rossington swimmers, parents, and coaches. Hopefully the event was successful in showing everyone that although Max is now an Olympian (having achieved great success so far in the early stages of his senior swimming career) he is just an ordinary lad, who started out the same as all those children attending the talk. Through commitment, determination and hard work he has been able to do extraordinary things.

Maybe there was a future Olympian sitting and listening to what he had to say!

Article first published on the Dartes website.