PICTURE SPECIAL: Swim stars return on crest of a wave

SOUTH Tyneside swimming stars Josef Craig and Nicole Lough arrived home to a warm welcome after their magnificent medal displays.

The terrific teens did the borough proud in the IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal, Canada.

WELCOME HOME ...  Josef Craig and Nicole Lough arrive back at Newcastle Airport.

WELCOME HOME ... Josef Craig and Nicole Lough arrive back at Newcastle Airport.

Josef, 16, swam his way to gold in the S7 400m freestyle – smashing his own world record in the process – and the 100m freestyle and silver in the 50m event.

Meanwhile, Nicole, 18, battled her way through the pool to claim bronze and a place on the podium in the S14 100 breaststroke.

Yesterday, the pair were greeted by family, friends, the deputy leader of South Tyneside Council Alan Kerr and the Shields Gazette, all eager to congratulate the swimmers, as they landed at Newcastle Airport.

The pair had flown for 12 hours when they arrived back in the North East to the sound of applause and hugs from family members.

A tired Nicole, from Craster Avenue, South Shields, said: “It’s amazing to be back home. I never expected any of this. I’m just over the moon with my medal win.”

Josef, 16, from Swinbourne Terrace, Jarrow, added: “I went over to Canada to do a bit of swimming but it’s a great feeling to back in Newcastle – the land of the Toon Army.

“It was an amazing competition and I never expected to come back with medals in all three events. I’m just really tired but it has been amazing.”

Coun Kerr said: “It is such a fantastic experience to have been able to come here and meet both Josef and Nicole as they arrive back in the North East after both being triumphant in the World Championships.

“They are a credit to South Tyneside, and it’s amazing that here in the borough we have someone has won two gold medals and a silver and someone that has won a bronze medal on such a huge international platform.

“I am really pleased for them both and pleased I have been given the opportunity to be here to personally welcome them back to the North East.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazlisa