At the age of nine, Claire competed in her first sporting event – a swimming gala in Dubai where her parents lived.
One of the competitors noticed that she only had one arm and made the mistake of asking how she could swim. Actions speak louder than words – she won the race and left this able-bodied swimmer dumbfounded.
Two years later she returned to the UK and joined the Wyre Forest Swimming Club. After years of early mornings and late nights Claire became the Junior British Champion in her category (S9).
This early success was only a taste of the future, as in 2004 Claire qualified for the Athens Paralympics. Despite having to juggle her intense training programme ahead of the Games with the demands of her GCSE’s, Claire claimed bronze medals in both the 100m backstroke and 200m individual medley. This historic achievement came at the age of just 16, making her the youngest member of the British Paralympics swimming team.
In the same year, Claire won the BBC Midlands Young Disabled Sports Person of the Year award after winning a gold medal at the British Championships.
She also picked up the ITV Sporting Midlander of the Year, NPower Young Female Achiever and WASP Disability Person of the Year awards. As a result of her two bronze medals Claire was put on the World Class Performance programme in 2005. Determined to cement her position as one of the leading lights of GB Paralympic swimming, she continued to progress over the following four years and build on her success in Athens.
2005 saw her achieve bronze medal success in the World Cup while swimming with Glandular Fever, which she thankfully recovered from in time to win two silver medals at the World Championships in 2006 and silver at the World Cup that same year.
2008 started well, with Claire winning silver at the World Cup in the S9 100m Freestyle, with a new British record of 1:07.53.
She then returned to the Paralympic stage in Beijing as part of a strong GB delegation and once again lived up to her billing, competing in four events, winning bronze in the 100m breaststroke and reaching the finals of all three other disciplines, the 100m S9 Backstroke, 100m S9 Butterfly and 200m SM9 Individual Medley.
After Beijing she went to Leeds University to study Linguistics, all this was well planned as her course finishes in 2011, one year before the London games.