The morning of my English Channel swim I had my son Tom write the names "Robbie and Johnny" on my upper arms. As many of you know, I started open water swimming after my brother Robbie died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 34. Robbie loved all types of sports especially swimming. He won the Peaks to Portland (2.4 mile ocean swim) twice. My son encouraged me to swim the Peaks to Portland as a tribute to Robbie. Little did I know that I would fall in love with the sport of open water swimming.
I've had many people ask me about my brother Johnny. I want to pay tribute to him, too. Johnny died at a very young age of 17. He was accidentally electrocuted during a physics lab class at Westbrook High School many years ago. His passing was a tremendous loss to our family. He was such a wonderful and caring brother. He was an all-around proud American boy. He was a newspaper carrier, altar boy, and a friend to all. He had a great sense of humor. Johnny loved sports, too. His favorite sport was track and field. In high school he excelled in track and won numerous track events in his very short life.
During my English Channel swim, I thought of Johnny and Robbie. As I slowly walked up the beach to the finish line in France, I thought of them. Because Robbie was the swimmer of the two, I said, "this is for you Robbie". Johnny would have been so proud of my accomplishment, too. And, he probably would have jokingly said "why didn't you run up the beach to the finish line."
Johnny this swim was for you, too. Love to both!