Joe Clark - Cerebral Palsey Para Swimmer
I first began swimming as a child after my doctor recommended it to me. I had just been disagnosed with Cerebral Palsey where I couldn't walk and they thought it would help build my muscle and walking abilities. Sadly, in the late 1990s/early 2000s, my family weren't aware of any para teams so after learning the basics I left the sport.
My family emigrated to Austrailia in 2007 and I decided to get back into swimming for fitness purposes. I was classes as a 'special athlete' and so I lost interest.
In 2014, I returned to the UK and began to work as a sports coach teaching mainly football. I wanted to get back to swimming so I contacted Sheffield City Swimming Club. Being back in the pool in a supportive club boosted my confidence and I am currently competing for Sheffield City Swim Club in the Para program under Swim England under classification S6 SB6 SM6. I enjoy swimming in a competition capacity, as through experience I have found it’s the most equal sport of them all. When competing in swimming I feel in my element.
After losing my confidence through various different roles, I applied to be a football coach with Sheffield City Trust in 2018. My manager Charlotte helped me regain my confidence. I love coaching and the best part of the job is seeing kids improve their abilities and enjoying every moment.
Whether you have Cerebral Palsey or another disability I would highly recommend getting involved in sport! It's highly rewarding both phyiscally and mentally whether you are competing, taking part for leisure or as a coach. Whoever you are, whatever your ability there is something to suit everyone.