PARALYMPIC champion Josef Craig is the latest addition to City of Sunderland Swimming Club after deciding a move to Wearside was the best way to further his career.
South Shields teenager Craig smashed the world record twice on his way to winning gold in the S7 400metres freestyle at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, before claiming another gold and silver at last year’s World Championships.
But despite all those accolades during nine years representing South Tyneside Swimming Club, Craig felt he needed to join the Performance A squad at Sunderland’s Aquatic Centre to continue his development.
The 17-year-old joins fellow disabled swimmers Matt Wylie and Nicole Lough at Sunderland, with all three realistic contenders to be part of the Great Britain team for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.
And the move has already proved to be successful for Craig after he claimed two golds from the Disability Sports Events National Junior and Youth Swimming Championships, in Sheffield, last weekend.
“Leaving South Tyneside swimming club to go to Sunderland has been one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make,” said Craig.
“It wasn’t out of the blue, it was something that was raised about five or six weeks ago when I was at the British Swimming Camp and something I did speak to at length with my coach Paul Robinson.
“We had been talking about optimising my training, and training schedule. Despite myself and my coach trying our best to work something out, I just couldn’t fit everything in anymore.
“I always knew deep down I was going to have to move eventually but I just kept putting it off because I love South Tyneside.
“Its the club I grew up in. They got me to the Paralympics and they made me the person who I am today.
“But I need to be swimming at a place where I can optimise my training.”