GOOD NEWS

States may be cancelled but she's our champ

Debbie Mitcham was a champion runner back in her day. "It's in the blood," she said. "Ashley asked me what level I reached, and then told me she'd do one better and make it to state. She did."
Debbie Mitcham was a champion runner back in her day. "It's in the blood," she said. "Ashley asked me what level I reached, and then told me she'd do one better and make it to state. She did."

Ashley Mitcham is only eight-years-old, but already she has the heart of a true athlete. She thrives on competition and eats challenges for breakfast.

But this year there were obstacles much larger than her fierce fighting spirit could overcome.

For the second year in a row Ashley qualified for the NSW Schools Swimming State Championships.

The Nambucca Heads Public School swimmer had blitzed her fellow students in the 9 Years 50m freestyle at the school carnival, obliterating a record that had been standing since 1988.

"She was aiming to break the butterfly record too, but she missed it by half a second," Ashley's mum, Debbie said.

Ashley has been swimming since 11 months. "It was like she had in-built floaties on her," said Debbie, who is incredibly proud of her daughter's achievements.

Ashley has been swimming since 11 months. "It was like she had in-built floaties on her," said Debbie, who is incredibly proud of her daughter's achievements.

Still, Ashley came away with six firsts from the six events she entered. She also won the 100m all age freestyle event, beating 12-year-olds to the game.

She conquered districts too, coming away with a first, three seconds and a third.

"Every carnival we go to she just steps up and surprises me," Debbie said.

With momentum behind her, Ashley progressed through the zone, then the regional carnival, where she recorded a three second PB to claim silver in the junior 50m butterfly event, in which she competed against 10-year-olds. She also earned a bronze in the 9 years 50m freestyle. She was all set to head to Sydney in April to compete against the best swimmers in state.

But Ashley is not just a superfish - she's as quick on land as she is in the water.

Ashley recently competed at the regional athletics carnival in Tamworth in the midst of a deluge; it had already been postponed once for fire, so all were determined to forge ahead.

Ashley went away with a gold in the 200m, a silver in the 400m, and bronze in both the 800m and 60m hurdles, securing her place for state at the Sydney Olympic Athletic Centre on March 14-15.


Ashley was awarded Nambucca Heads Public School's Junior Sports Girl of the year in 2019.

Ashley was awarded Nambucca Heads Public School's Junior Sports Girl of the year in 2019.

Debbie and Ashley made the pilgrimage to Sydney on the Friday, only to hear the announcement at 3pm that the State Athletic Championships had been cancelled because of coronavirus.

Making lemonade out of a pretty big lemon, the pair headed to Luna Park instead.

What was harder to take was news of the cancellation of the State Swimming Championships which came only days after.

Debbie and Ashley are now planning on dancing through this pandemic after stocking up on some Just Dance games. And Ashley is keen to give it everything she's got in 2021.

Regardless, she's already proven herself to be our champion.

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