Ashley Ransome & Sarah O’Brien from Hertford S.C. competed in the first ever Long Course (50m) ASA Summer Nationals held at Pond’s Forge- Sheffield’s 50m pool after receiving an invite to the competition. The ASA invited the 20 fastest English girls from each age group, whose swim was ranked fastest in a three month qualifying window. With both girls setting a personal best (PB), early in the qualifying window both at Luton’s 50m pool, it was a tense two month wait until they received confirmation in early June that they had qualified for the 18 & over’s 50m breaststroke event. Ashley & Sarah travelled up on Thursday to attend training sessions and briefings to ensure that they were ready to compete the following day. With the event being held in the 10 lane pool, Sarah was drawn in lane 0 in heat 7, and Ashley in lane 4 in heat 9 with the fastest qualifying time. With the race starting at 10.30am and being streamed live, family and friends were able to watch them compete in this high level competition. After a strong swim from Sarah in the outside lane, she finished 13th just missing out on a place in the final. Although just outside her PB she set in April, she was pleased with her time considering that she had only just competed her A level exams. With Ashley drawn in the centre lane, she finished 4th again just outside her PB set in May, but booking her place in the 10 swimmer final in evening. With the event at the end of the evening sessions, it was a long wait for Ashley before being called for her race at 8pm. With the final again being streamed live, Ashley was drawn in lane 6 of the 10 lane pool. With the fastest reaction time- measured by sensors on the starting block, Ashley got a good start but with other top swimmers competing all having a strong finish, it was always going to be difficult to medal at this level of competition. Ashley managed to out touch a faster qualifier in the lane next to her but was beaten for 3rd place by an unsighted swimmer in lane 0 across the far side of the pool by only 0.2 of a second. Ashley finished in a very respectable 4th place and in the process swimming a 0.16 second PB, finishing in 34.22 meaning that she had reduced her time in the season by over 2 seconds. For both Ashley and Sarah, this was the highest level they have ever competed at and showed that training under their coaches, Steve Barber & Debi Hunt at Hertford over the years has provided them the groundwork to exceed their very own expectations. Ashley also being a member of Staines SC where she trains whilst at Uni in Surrey, competed in the relay events for them. Ashley managed a big PB in the 17 & over 4 x 100m free where the team qualified in 7th place for the heats on the Tuesday. With another superb performance from all the girls in the evening final Staines finished 6th in the Championships. Ashley’s last race was on the Sunday in the 4 x 100m Medley with her swimming the breaststroke leg of the relay. The team entered the competition in 13th place and finished in 11th, missing the finals by just one place but with all the team swimming a PB, their performance couldn’t have been any better.. After a very long season, both Ashley and Sarah will have a short rest before resuming training to try and qualify for the Short Course (25m) ASA Winter Nationals where starts and turns are the key to a fast time.