SWIMMER Beth Hartwell only began open water swimming a couple of weeks ago and she has already won a place in a national competition in Sheffield.
Twelve-year-old Beth, from Norden, is a Year 7 student at Haslingden High School and swims in the school team and also for Pioneer 79 in Accrington.
She took part in the North West Open Water Swimming Championships at Salford Quays.
Beth was second overall in the North West and was the first Lancashire swimmer to finish, earning her a place in the nationals.
She said: “It was really cold and you were not allowed to swim in a wetsuit. You had two practice swims to acclimatise and then had to swim three laps of 500m each.
“It was the first ever time I have competed in open water, I am more used to swimming in a pool.
“When you first get in it is so cold your heart beats really fast and your breathing is so quick. You have to focus to calm everything down before you swim.
“When the race starts there is a front group, a middle one, a back one for those who can’t swim fast. I was in the middle and I maintained the same swimming pace all the way round whereas the others dropped off, then on the last bit I just sprinted.
“I was really happy that I was second because it was one of the biggest sporting achievements I have ever done.”
It was her mum Cath’s determination to complete an iron man challenge – a 2.4mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and then a marathon – that spurred Beth into trying open water swimming.
She is now ranked in the top 10 open water swimmers for her age.