It was early Sunday morning when I knew that something tragic had happened during someones English Channel swim. I didnt know it was you. Truth be told, I never met you but we were friends in common. If you are an open water swimmer no introduction is necessary, friendship is a given.
Once home after my swim training in my local lake in preparation for my English Channel relay swim, I trawled for news on the internet. In disbelief, I web-searched your name in the hope that it was all a terrible mistake. But sadly, the different spelling of Paraic, the Irish for Patrick, confirmed that a tragedy had occurred with your passing just one kilometre from French soil.
Paraic, you could have been one of any of us swimmers and this is why we know you. We shared your dreams and aspirations. We experienced similar training efforts over the years, pain, illness, fatigue on the negative side. And the many many positives including the pleasant feelings of being in swimming pools or open water, meeting challenges, cutting through waters so cold, and waters quite balmy. And the friendships forged. The warm camaraderie of swimmers based on as little as a two minute chat or reading about Sandycove swimming club or any other swimming location. And now we mourn your sudden loss.
Peering at your winning photo with the floral garlands awarded following a successful Lake Zurich swim, nothing is hinted as to why you passed. Yours was a happy face, a kind visage and clearly displaying the healthy glow of a swimmer. Even at the crest of the heartbreak, your wife Riana had grace in her grief describing you as an amazing, healthy, tough, loving husband, friend, brother, uncle, son, nephew and cousin whose recent passion for swimming brought you to great places.
But dear Paraic, it is a seismic loss to have lost you to the sea. You set off at 09:13 on Saturday 21 July and were taken into the boat around 01:30 on the Sunday morning. Not in vain hope had you trained properly. You had done the miles, in fact over two million metres of swimming in one year under the eyes of many experienced open water swimmers. Six people have previously perished attempting a crossing of the English Channel but theirs had elements of desperation and naivety about them. You had ticked all the boxes with smaller preparatory swims being done in anticipation of meeting the big one- the English Channel.
Your hobbies were not just swimming, for you were also a talented viola player with the Cork Symphony orchestra. You also had a kind eye and were raising funds for St Vincent de Paul and Marymount Hospice. Your nature work educating visitors to Fota island was also part of your warm character. Indeed, lucky are the people who knew you. We may never have met but we are kindred spirits. We miss you, we love you. Rest in Peace Paraic Casey.
Our thoughts are now with your family and friends.
From all the marathon swimmers who feel we knew you but never had the pleasure of meeting you and also those who had the fortune of your company.