Los Fresnos News

Jada Ashford makes waves at Region VII swim meet

Los Fresnos freshman swimmer Jada Ashford takes a lap in the pool during a recent practice. Ashford is headed to the UIL state swim meet on Feb. 14-15 after helping her team dominate at the Class 6A Region VIII meet on Feb. 1. Photos: Mark Molina/LFN

By Mark Molina / LFN

Los Fresnos freshman swimmer Jada Ashford knew that once she jumped in the pool with the Lady Falcons, the bar would be high as both a competitor and teammate.

“The standards were set, so I had to meet them,” she said. “We work together as a team, practice hard and encourage each other. I knew me being a freshman with my ability, I’d have to take a role like someone older. That meant doing the right thing because there will be those looking toward me and what I do.”

Ashford has gone on to meet those standards and more as she helped lead the Lady Falcons to a Region VIII-6A meet championship at the Margaret M. Clark Aquatic Center in Brownsville on Feb. 1. She also set pool records in the process by winning both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle with times of 23.26 seconds and 51.57, respectively.

The 14-year-old swimmer also qualified as a part of the 200-yard medley relay, the 200-yard free relay and was named the regional meet’s top female swimmer.

Ashford said accomplishing the feats she did at the regional meet are rare for a swimmer her age, but the experience has been a humbling one.

“I feel proud of myself and I see others are proud of me, so that just makes me feel very honored to be heading to state as a freshman,” Ashford said. “It’s not something a lot of people do; it makes me feel great.”

Los Fresnos swim coach Jaime Perez, who was named the top coach at the region meet, noticed Ashford’s abilities before she came up to the varsity ranks and knew she had potential to make waves.

“Jada displayed her talents in our middle school swimming program last year,” he said. “We knew she was going to make a big impact on our team. I always tell our swimmers that anything is possible and when there’s a will, there’s a way. Jada definitely has the drive it takes. I am confident that she will make it happen.”

For Ashford, making it happen is a must as she not only joined a tradition-rich program but has spent most of her swimming career chasing the accomplishments of her brother Jonathan Ashford.

Jonathan swam for Brownsville Veterans Memorial High School and was a state qualifier in 2013, 2015 and 2016.

“I started swimming when I was 2, competing since I was 5, and I started because my brother was a young swimmer, too,” Jada said. “He swam and then my parents put me in it. I grew up watching him, so I always dreamed of being as good as he was. I always had a dream to be an All-American because at my pool (Margaret M. Clark Aquatic Center) the pictures were there. I always wanted to be better than him, so I strived to outwork him.”

Ashford has taken steps toward both goals as her 50 free time of 23.26 came in under the 23.54 cutoff for All-American consideration by the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches association. Her time is just shy of the 23.20 cutoff All-American cutoff.

Even more impressive is her time in the 50 free as she is seeded fourth heading into the state meet and her 100 free time is seeded 10th, which is the highest ever for any swimmer in the program.

Ashford knows she still has room to grow with three more seasons in front of her and will continue to push forward, starting with next week’s state meet in Austin.

“I feel I can get a lot better, a lot stronger and a lot more developed,” she said. “Racing against the older, more developed people at state should help me get stronger and encourage me to be like them.”

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