Apr 30, 2014 6:30 PM by Bill Halter
Hancock freshman swimmer Leanna Bramble experienced the most devastating moment of her personal life and the greatest athletic achievement in the same weekend. Bramble won three Western State Conference titles while also losing her mother to a long battle with cancer.
Bramble started the Conference Meet by winning the 100-yard individual medley on April 17 and then she won the 200-yard individual medley on April 18. "It started out o.k. because I was focused on my swimming but as the days went on I was getting more news about my mom and so it was getting harder to concentrate on the actual swimming part" said Bramble, an Orcutt Academy High School graduate.
Her mom was at a nearby hospital to where Bramble was competing at LA Valley College. It was becoming clear, she didn't have much time left. "It (the cancer) kind of just took a turn for the worse and she got pneumonia in both of her lungs and so she was on life support" said Bramble.
Bramble still had one event left on April 19, her specialty event, the 100-yard breastroke. "She kept saying, I don't know if I can be there and we had to keep saying hey if you got to go you got to go" said Hancock head coach Mike Ashmore. "Coach was like it's up to you what you want to do. You can swim or you can leave, it's totally your call and I decided to swim because I just figured that's what my mom would want me to do" said Bramble.
Bramble smashed a conference record by nearly three seconds in winning the breastroke with a time of 1:06.41. "The worst pressure imaginable and she really rose to the occassion and took care of business" said Ashmore.
After the win, Bramble rushed to the hospital where hours later her mom died. "I got to tell her about my races and stuff and I saw a little like side smile so that was comforting for me" said Bramble. "She made it clear to us that she didn't want to suffer anymore. We asked her, are you o.k. with this and she was like yea, just let me go home."
Bramble will represent the Bulldogs at the State Meet starting on Thursday at East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park. Bramble's time in the 100-yard breastroke ranks fifth among the 16 women who qualified for the state meet. She also ranks fifth in the 100 IM with a time of 1:01.42 and seventh in the 200 IM (2:13.59).
This is the first season for the Hancock swimming program.
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