A SCHOOLGIRL is celebrating after triumphing over her rivals at regional swimming gala.

Neve Mason, who attends St Chad’s Primary School in Bishop Auckland, won the 200 metre backstroke race at the Northumberland and Durham Championships at Sunderland Aquatic Centre.

And, as if that was not good enough, she achieved a new personal best of two minutes and 58 seconds and beat her greatest rival– a talented young swimmer who won every other race in their age category.

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Despite her initial nerves Neve, who also competed in the 200m freestyle, entertained the crowd with an impressive performance.

Describing the contest as one of the biggest swimming galas of her life, she said: “I was first in my heat on the first length, second length and third length.

“I knew all I had to do to win gold was to win my heat.

“The last length I was just ahead of everyone and I did it - I won gold!

“I was so happy I was nearly crying with joy.”

Dominic Brown, headteacher at St Chad’s Primary School, said: “We couldn't be happier for Neve because she so thoroughly deserves it.

“She puts so much effort into everything - her work, her swimming and her friendships in school. We're very happy and very proud of our Neve - she's an absolute star,”'