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Craig Tobin: Westfield Local Heroes 2019

Making inclusive swimming fun and meaningful

Special Olympics Redlands
Caring. Dedicated. Understanding

Craig Tobin has been involved with swimming for forty years and touched the lives of thousands of people along the way.

For the past ten years, the much-loved former swimming champion has volunteered to coach inclusive squads of Special Olympic and Down syndrome swimmers at the Clem Jones Sports Complex in Carina.

“We teach swimming and water safety. We have athletes starting their swimming journey and we have many athletes that have completed at World Championships, says Craig, who makes the lessons both fun and meaningful.

He is an internationally respected coach, but his influence goes beyond the swimming pool.

“Swimming helps build self-esteem and promotes great lifelong friendships. We also improve family support networks and build relationships between like-minded families,” says Craig.

He has found it a “sensational” experience to be voted a Westfield Local Hero, validating his years of work. He is also excited about the community recognition for the Special Olympics.

Many members of Craig's squad have gone on to hold part-time jobs in the community, such as with the Lions AFL Club, modelling or working at the local gym or coffee shop.

They are also making impressive achievements in the pool and several won medals at this year’s Special Olympic World Games.

One of the swimmers he mentored is now a bronze-level coach and one of his assistants.

Craig recently volunteered to run a successful day for refugees at which he taught parents and children about water safety.

Previously, he introduced a program for refugees attending Milperra High School who had never seen a swimming pool and were afraid of the water. He also worked closely with the Muslim community, offering lessons that catered to their religious and cultural requirements.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation.

Special Olympics Redlands will use its grant to market itself and cover the costs of gear and pool entry for those who cannot afford it.

“These funds mean we can promote swimming to more athletes and turn them into better athletes,” says Craig.

__For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here. __

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