TWELVE-year-old Amelia Barneston shocked her dad by swimming a national qualifying time at a regional meet on the weekend.
The Southend High School for Girls Year 7 pupil clocked 2mins 55.54secs over 200m breaststroke to book her place alongside the country’s best at the British Gas ASA National Age Group Championships in Sheffield in the summer.
Ameila, who gave away two years to her competitors in the 14-and-under age group race at the ASA Central Zone meeting at Corby on Sunday, is now ranked fifth in the UK and will bid for glory in the 200m race at Ponds Forge International Pool on July 25.
Dad Alex Barneston, from Westcliff, admitted it was an excellent achievement from the Borough of Southend Swimming club (BOSS) member.
“We thought she might go close to a national time, but it was a shock to see her get it,” he said.
“But she’s a bit of a battler, and she has a lot of potential.
“She’s come through the rankings massively in recent years – she was 85th in the UK when she was 10, now she’s fifth over 200m breaststroke.
“She’s number one in Essex at 50m, 100m and 200m, and now she has a chance to test herself against the county’s best.”
He added that Amelia still has room for improvement on her turns where her diminutive size can leave her at a disadvantage bigger girls.
But he said the BOSS coach Will Brogan has done a terrific job improving Amelia’s strength and conditioning.
He said: “She was last in the counties when she was nine, but at 10 she was swimming for Rochford and we started to see her potential.
“Last year she joined BOSS and she has continued to make good progress there.”
Amelia also recorded a time of 1mins 23.57secs for the 100 breaststroke — 1.06 seconds off a national qualification time. She’s ranked ninth in the county over 100m, and is fourth fastest in the UK over 50m.