A York teenager who dreams of becoming a medal-winning swimmer is back in the water after overcoming a debilitating condition.

Caroline Pugh, who lives near Knavesmire with her mother Kim, has always loved to swim and is now back in training after specialist treatment helped her to fight her condition.

The problems began for Caroline at 13. Her mum noticed one of her daughter’s shoulder blades starting to protrude from her back, and she began to get shooting pains up one side.

Kim made an appointment with the GP and after X-rays and check ups, doctors told Caroline, now 14, she had scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, and could face surgery to fuse her spine solid.

Caroline, a pupil at York High School, said: “I was so upset when I was told about my spine. I had always loved being in the water and I was getting really good.

“When I was told swimming was putting serious strain on my spine and it was something I should consider giving up, I was devastated.”

Caroline loved swimming and had started to triumph in competitions, but was starting to lose her flexibility and her skills, and her confidence started to plummet.

Kim decided not to wait for surgery, which would stop Caroline swimming, and found a specialist private clinic based in London which treats scoliosis with physiotherapy.

She said: “Caroline changed literally overnight; she had become so deflated and depressed from the diagnosis and I had seen her confident, happy personality drain away.

“As soon as she started treatment and met other girls with the same condition, she started to bounce back.

“It’s so exciting to start looking to the future again. If she had ended up having surgery it would have been my worst nightmare.”

Weeks into treatment, Caroline’s condition improved significantly and now she is back swimming, playing tennis and netball, and following her dream of becoming an athlete.

She added: “I am so relieved to get back to what I love. I really didn’t want to have surgery. Swimming and keeping fit is my life.”