Inaugural Women's Swim Team Making Waves at Hancock

"It's so exciting to start a program from scratch," said head coach Mike Ashmore.

WomensSwim1JANUARY 14, 2014 -- An historic wave of excitement and tradition has rolled onto the Allan Hancock College campus.  The first-ever women’s swim team has started official practices in preparation for its inaugural season.

“Everything is going really well.  It’s so exciting to start a program from scratch and establish fresh traditions,” said head coach Mike Ashmore, pictured at far left.  “We have a great group that is committed to each other and to becoming the best student-athletes possible.”

Ashmore, who has been a part-time physical education instructor at Hancock for 15 years, owns more than 20 years of coaching experience.  He is the manager and head coach of the Santa Maria Swim Club and has sent an athlete to the last three United States Olympics Trials.

“I used the community college route to become a successful student-athlete at a four-year university.  I want to help my athletes achieve their goals,” said Ashmore.

Getting the word out to the community remains an ongoing challenge.  Esmy Garcia discovered the program when she helped Ashmore upgrade his cell phone while working at Best Buy.  “He was the last customer I helped that night.  I showed up at practice the next day.  It was meant to be,” Garcia joked.

Garcia is swimming competitively for the first time since she graduated from Santa Maria High School in 2009.  In just a few weeks, she is making strides in the pool.  “My heart doesn’t feel like it’s going to explode anymore.  So I’m in much better shape and have come a long way in just a few weeks,” said Garcia, who expects to compete in the freestyle event.

“That’s the beauty of this team.  We have athletes who have little training and others who I expect to qualify for the state meet,” added Ashmore.

One of the athletes Ashmore expects to dive right into the state meet mix is freshman Leanna Bramble, who is no stranger to entering uncharted waters.  “It’s incredible to think that I’ve been a part of the first swim team at Orcutt Academy and now here at Hancock,” said Bramble, who finished second in the 100-meter breaststroke at the C.I.F. Championships last year.

Bramble said competing at the college level close to home was almost too good to be true.  “I never thought this was possible.  But it is such an awesome opportunity at Hancock to be a college athlete and work toward earning a shot at a four-year university,” she said. 

With 11 swimmers on the team, the Bulldogs have one of the smallest rosters in the state.  But they are not worried about numbers.  They’re focused on having fun and enjoying the opportunity to make a splash in the history books together.

“Since we are a small team, we’ve become such a united group.  It’s incredible to see each other improve, almost every day, and accomplish things we couldn’t when we first started,” said Bramble.

“I love these girls.  We’re all so supportive of each other and have great camaraderie,” said Garcia.

Hancock is a member of the Western State Conference and, as a new program, cannot host a meet for two years.  The Bulldogs first meet is Saturday, Feb.15, at Ventura College.

“I cannot wait to experience my first collegiate meet and to represent Hancock,” said Bramble, who’s goal this season is for a top three finish at state in the 100-meter breaststroke.

Coaches and athletes know they are making history and starting a legacy on campus.  “As we get more swimmers to come out and become more competitive each year, we can build this program into one of the top 10 in the state,” Ashmore said.

For more information about the swim program contact Ashmore at mashmore@hancockcollege.edu or call (805) 922-6966 ext. 3227.

- AHC -

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Last Modified Dec 10, 2014