A TEENAGE swimmer has been praised for her Olympic debut - at the age of just 13.

On Sunday August 7, Gaurika Singh took part in the 100m backstroke in Rio de Janeiro - the youngest competitor in this year's games.

She came 31st out of 34 taking 1:08 to finish, despite winning her three-woman opening heat of the day in a time of 1:08.45.

Gaurika, a pupil at Haberdashers' Aske's Girls School in Elstree, has lived in North London since she was two and trains at Barnet’s Copthall leisure centre.

Barnet Copthall’s swimming club was established in 1978, and since 1980, at least one swimmer from the club has competed at every Olympic Games.

Rhys Gormley has been coaching Gaurika for almost four years, and says she has been training at Barnet’s Copthall leisure centre for six years.

Mr Gormley said: “She has had a few problems out there, there was a lot pressure on her given her age, and before her race she split her costume, but there was nothing she couldn’t handle.

“She is only 13, but she has a good head on her shoulders.

“She wasn’t expected to make the finals or semi-finals, this was a stepping stone for the next Olympics.”

At 13-years-old, Gaurika is also an earthquake survivor, as having been in Nepal during the earthquake that devastated the country’s capital, Kathmandu, in April 2015.

Gaurika competed in the 2016 South Asian Games in India, winning a silver medal in the 200m medley race.