A SPORTING hero and the Mayor have pooled their talents to get South Tyneside swimming.
Record-breaking Josef Craig and Coun Ernest Gibson have embarked on a fun challenge to swim in every pool across the borough in a bid to get more people to pull on their costumes and trunks.
Josef, a gold medallist at both the Paralympics and World Championships, joined the Mayor on the first leg of the challenge this week by swimming lengths at Haven Point, Brinkburn Community Assocation, both South Shields, and Boldon CA.
The pair will then complete stage two next week when they take a dip at Jarrow Community Pool, Hebburn Swimming Pool and Harton Technology College.
Josef, who suffers from cerebral palsy, swam to glory at the 2012 Paralympics in London, setting a new world record on his way to winning gold in the men’s S7 400m freestyle.
He was named BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year for 2012 and last year he added to his success with gold medals in the 400m and 100m freestyle and silver in the 50m freestyle. 2013 also saw him awarded the MBE in the New Year Honours List for services to swimming.
Josef, from Jarrow, said: “I agreed to help the Mayor with his challenge, as I appreciate what it means to have exercise, sport, and especially swimming, in your life.
“If this can get one person to start using their local pool then it will have been worthwhile.”
Coun Gibson added: “I’m so pleased that someone with the sporting calibre of Josef Craig has agreed to take part in my swimming pool challenge.
“Josef’s achievements have been an inspiration to so many people, and he has definitely inspired me to swim more frequently.
“I want people to recognise the importance of personal fitness and looking after themselves, as it is an investment that could make a real difference to someone’s life as swimming is a lifesaving skill.
“The challenge also highlights the wonderful facilities we have on offer to people in South Tyneside. The swimming pools are accompanied by a range of gyms and fitness suites which can be enjoyed all year around.
“If you’ve ever said to yourself ‘I’d love to try something new’ then why not pop down to your nearest facility and get started today?”
Anyone who wants to learn more about the facilities can visit the council’s website www.southtyneside.info/leisure, or alternatively call 427 7000.