You can always find sand near water. This is especially true for Ashley Sand, the swimming Hawks returning star in breaststroke.
Ashley Sand continues to break new water, and records, in her second year on the swim team. Sand is not new to success, ranking ninth nationally in both 100 yd and 200 yd breaststroke in 2022. This year, she is finishing first place in most of her events. At the most recent Hawk Invite on March 31 to April 1, Sand put together a total of three first place finishes. Her specific events were the 100 yd breaststroke (1:08.33), the 50 yd breaststroke (30.81), and the 200 yd breaststroke (2:28.45).
Sand is no rookie to this sport, her stellar performances can be traced back to her early years as she started swimming around the age of five. Both her parents are collegiate swimmers, and they wanted the same for their daughter.
“My dad actually started a club swim team in Hayward, so I have been swimming on that year-round competitively since I was little,” Sand said.
With her overall experience and history of competitive ability, she tends to have a level head when entering races. “Doing well in our conference and northern California definitely gives me some confidence going into our bigger meets that have a lot more swimmers,” Sand said.
Many can see this confidence in her performances as last year, she had two top five finishes in state. Jason Craighead, the Las Positas swim and dive team coach, has been making sure Sand is working even harder than before to work for something bigger than a top five performance.
“We’ve just stepped everything up, everything is more difficult, more challenging, longer,” Coach Craighead said.
Sand has made sure, even with the ramp up in training and faster performances, that she keeps her mind calm and collected. She’s also making sure her team is also in a place to succeed and get better. Being around the sport long enough has helped her be familiar with the pressures of the sport, physically and mentally.
“Visualizing my races before is really important, when I’m at the meet I’ll be listening to music or I just try to stay focused, it usually gets me through it,” Sand said.
Sand is not just thinking about her own races but she is also hoping for the best team performance.
“She’s a leader in practice, one because she’s always aware of where we are at in a set and helping the others, making sure they are on task and doing the right thing at the same time,” Craighead said.
“I hope my performances would gain points for my team, I hope my teammates can be happy with that,” Sand said.
Sand has built herself quite the resume over this 2023 season. She obtained meet records at the Hawk Invitational and has a total of 12 top three finishes this year, and the season is not over.
Last season, coach Craighead had Sand focus more on team placement, having her race in relays. This year he has a different approach, “I’m trying to allow them to really enjoy her second year at states and be able to showcase and highlight themselves,” he said.
“This year I’m hoping to place even higher, right now I’m ranked 2nd for 100 and 200 breaststroke. I’m hoping to keep that,” Sand said.
Her eyes are set on better placements than last year and her work so far this season is setting her up each meet to do better and better. The season is coming to a close in the next month and Sand wants to make her name well known at Las Positas.
“My goal was to just set records. I have three so I’m hoping I can beat my two from last year,” Sand said.
Ashley Sand has already written her name into the school’s history and looks to compete against the best soon at the state meet. At Las Positas, Sand is only beginning her legacy.
Gabriel Carver is a staff writer for the Express. Follow him @cup1dco.