Super-swimming siblings’ success

Top swimmers Katie and Joseph Leybourn.
Top swimmers Katie and Joseph Leybourn.

A BROTHER and sister made a big splash at a swimming championship by scooping and amazing 14 medals between them.

Town siblings Joseph and Katie Laybourn – who compete for Hartlepool Swimming Club – took part in the Northumberland and Durham Swimming Championships and swept the board, coming home with a clutch of gold, silver and bronze medals.

Their dad, Andrew Laybourn, 44, said he was “chuffed to bits” with the pair and that they did themselves, their family, club and town proud.

Joseph, 17, a student at English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College, in Catcote Road, won gold in the youth and senior versions of the 50m butterfly race, bronze in the 100m youth backstroke, and bronze and silver in the senior and youth 50m freestyle, 50m backstroke, 50m breaststroke and 100m freestyle races.

And his younger sister, 10-year-old Katie, a pupil at St John Vianney Primary School, in King Oswy Drive, won her first set of awards in the junior section of the event which was attended by swimmers from all over the region last month.

She won three bronze medals in the 50m freestyle, 200m butterfly and the 50m butterfly. She was also placed fourth in the 200m freestyle and 50m back stroke, and came in sixth in the 200m individual medley – where a selection of strokes are carried out.

Andrew, a postman – who is married to Christine, 43, a radiographer, said: “Me and their mum are really proud of them, we’re chuffed to bits.

“Joseph did really well in the youth and senior sections of the event, and Katie swam in the junior part and these were the first level she’s ever got at that level. We were all delighted.”

The family, who live at John Howe Gardens, off Easington Road, in Hartlepool, have a bit of a history of swimming, with Andrew and Christine swimming for the town and county in their younger days.

Andrew also swam for the Great Britain Catholic Schools, which Joseph has also swam for twice – once last year in Portugal, and in France in 2010. He earned 11 gold medals over the two years, while in his day, Andrew managed two silvers.

“It’s a bit of a running joke in our house, that anything I can do he can do better!”, said Andrew.

Joseph, who started swimming with Hartlepool Swimming Club when he was just four, has also represented the Northumberland and Durham County team, and the Schools Division One Team team in the County Championships.

Andrew said: “He’s done very well over the years. He’s keen, he gets up three mornings a week to train, and swims every night except Mondays when he does land training. He only has a Sunday off.

“Katie has been carted round different swimming pools since she was a baby when we took Joseph training, so she’s grown up with it as well.

“She wanted to do it though, she was keen.”

He added: “It’s lovely watching them both competing but sometimes I’ve got to stand out of the way on my own. You’re more or less swimming it for them.

“I get more nervous than they do!”