A TEENAGER with Down’s Syndrome has made a splash in the world of competitive swimming.

Helen Thompson, from Colchester, could barely swim when she started at Market Field School in Elmstead Market four years ago.

She now competes for Great Britain and took part in a competition at the London 2012 Aquatics Centre.

It was the latest step in her extraordinary journey.

Helen, 15, said an important part of her transformation has been competing in swimming events run by the charity Panathlon.

The charity gives 17,500 young people with disabilities and special needs opportunities to engage in competitive sport every year.

It is a privilege they are so often otherwise denied.

Market Field, a school for children with special educational needs, enters teams into Panathlon events whenever possible.

After battling through qualifying rounds, eight pupils proudly took their places in a National Under-18 Final at the Aquatics Centre within the Olympic Park.

They finished seventh out of nine teams.

Moira Barker, Market Field School’s autistic classroom manager, said: “Helen has come from nowhere.

“When she first started at school she couldn’t really swim and now she represents the country.

“Panathlon has really built up her experience of not just swimming, but competitive swimming.”

Partly through Panathlon, Helen has quickly developed a love of the water and competing.

She initially joined Phoenix Swimming Club for disabled swimmers and now swims

for Colchester Swimming Club.

Last year, she was selected for the Great Britain team which competed in the Down’s Syndrome World Swimming Championships in Nova Scotia, Canada.

She won a silver and a bronze in the 25-metre breaststroke and butterfly respectively.

At the Panathlon National Under-18 Swimming Final, Helen was filmed by a media team from event sponsors Speedo, who quizzed her about her love of swimming.

Helen’s team-mate and friend, 17-year-old Imogen Cole, added: “I really enjoy Panathlon and you get so much out of it.

“It allows me to improve and learn new skills and the competitive side is really important.”