She’s a speed freak on the water.

And teenager Paige Eckford has proved to be a great champion just months after taking up barefoot water skiing.

The 16-year-old Mirfield Free Grammar School student was selected for the Great Britain Juniors squad in the European and Africa championships.

It was her first international call-up after less than a year in the sport but she returned from the four-day contest in Wallsee, Austria, with a silver and a bronze.

Paige, of Roberttown, took bronze in the trick event and silver in the slalom.

Now the talented youngster, who trains at the White Rose Waterski Club at Cromwell Bottom in Elland, is aiming for a place in the British squad who will compete in the world championships next year in Italy.

Barefoot water skiing originated in Winter Haven, Florida. According to the Water Ski Hall of Fame, and witnesses of the event, 17-year-old A.G. Hancock became the first person ever to barefoot water ski in 1947.

Barefooting requires the skier to travel at higher speeds than conventional water skiing, often up to 45m[ph, and the speed is required to keep the skier upright.

Paige Eckford of Roberttown and Elland's White Rose Waterski Club wins medals at juniors in the European and Africa barefoot waterski competition held in Wallsee in Austria
Paige Eckford of Roberttown and Elland's White Rose Waterski Club wins medals at juniors in the European and Africa barefoot waterski competition held in Wallsee in Austria
 

Paige’s stepfather, Glen Marshall, said: “She only started 12 months ago but has really taken to the sport.

“She had been training at the White Rose Club in Elland, on Cromwell Bottom, but because she showed real aptitude we let her go to a week-long training camp in Florida.

“When she came back she was selected for training with the GB team and it went from there.

“She certainly puts in the effort, training twice a week as well as studying for her GCSE exams.

“Now she is hoping to be chosen for the world championships next year. She just loves the speed and the thrill of the sport”.

Paige lives with her mum Sarah and siblings Eleanor (15) and Daniel (8).

Paige Eckford of Roberttown and Elland's White Rose Waterski Club wins medals at juniors in the European and Africa barefoot waterski competition held in Wallsee in Austria