With six kids in her family who all have participated in swimming, it’s no surprise that Ashley Kempf followed her siblings into the pool.
“I was seven when I started swimming…all of my siblings have swum before,” says Kempf. “So I just kind of continued along with the family, and I love it.”
The JSerra Catholic High School senior enjoys all of the swim strokes, but swims the 50 yard and 100 yard freestyle races as well as the 100 yard butterfly and 100 yard backstroke for the Lady Lions. Her favorite events remain the relays, where the individual swim becomes a team effort.
“It’s really fun with the team environment and doing it together,” says Kempf.
Whether she’s swimming solo or with her teammates, her love for the sport is rooted in both the difficulty and the accomplishment.
“I like how it’s a challenge, because during swimming it’s very difficult,” says the 18-year-old. “You’re holding your breath for most of it. You’re under water. Through it all, you know if you make it through this next set, you’re going to be proud of yourself and you’ve accomplished something.”
A captain for the Lady Lions, Kempf has leadership skills beyond her young years and is a strong example of what it looks like to be a model student athlete.
“Ashley possesses the characteristics you want in all your athletes,” says JSerra head swimming coach, Kevin Clements. “From her freshman year, Ashley has been the athlete I have referred to on countless occasions when speaking with other athletes about the mental, physical and spiritual approach to sports. I have no doubt she will accomplish great things.”
For Kempf, her approach to leadership is drawn from her deep connection to service and her faith.
“I believe [to] find a good leader, you can look to Jesus Christ, because he is the perfect example of how you can lead through service,” says Kempf. “I really take that to heart. During the competition, you always do better when you focus on others.”
Kempf enjoys competing for JSerra, a place where she can integrate faith and education, and the Laguna Hills resident has done so by participating in the school’s mission trips to Peru, where she and fellow students help build homes and distribute clothing to Peruvians who are in need.
Kempf hopes to compete as a swimmer in college as she pursues her goal of becoming a doctor. She is continually inspired and motivated by her mother, who has raised, homeschooled and helped strengthen the faith of her and her siblings. And she knows that without God’s gifts, she wouldn’t be where she is in the sport.
“God has given us health and the ability with our bodies to just have a good time,” says Kempf. “We are so privileged and blessed to be able to compete.”