Mystery over death of keen sea swimmer

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MYSTERY surrounds the death of a keen swimmer who drowned at Seaford beach.

Gerald O’Shea was enjoying one of his regular dips in the sea when he was later spotted face down in the water, an inquest heard.

The 82-year-old had left his home in Ambleside Avenue at Telscombe Cliffs, Peacehaven, on the morning of July 2 last year after saying goodbye to his wife Tessa O’Shea.

It had been a hot busy day at the beach and Therese Edwards from Surrey was on the beach watching her partner fishing when she saw Mr O’Shea head into the sea.

A statement read on her behalf at the inquest said, “He looked like he was back paddling OK and he got further out.

“I wondered if he went too far but he was not looking like he was in trouble.”

The inquest heard that after talking to people nearby, she looked back later on and struggled to see where he was but then spotting him floating on his front.

After running to ask for help, coastguard officers later tried to resuscitate him.

Paramedics and a doctor who arrived at the scene also gave their assistance but Mr O’Shea was pronounced dead at the scene.

In her report, pathologist Dr Jane Mercer said the retired teacher could have suffered cramp or narrowing of one of his coronary arteries, suffering chest pain as a result.

She gave his cause of death as drowning.

The inquest, held at Eastbourne Magistrates Court last week, heard how Mr O’Shea had a medical history of arthritis and had had a knee replacement several years ago but was a keen swimmer with a great interest in watching sports on the TV.

In a statement his wife Tessa O’Shea described him as an intelligent man who enjoyed swimming in the sea along the shoreline.

He had mentioned to his spouse that most of the strength was now in his arms and his legs did not have the free movement that they used to.

He had previously had one or two difficulties getting out of the sea at Seaford but had enjoyed the activity whatever the weather.

Recording a verdict of accidental death Coroner Alan Craze said, “How he got into trouble we won’t know.

“The pathologist said he might have had cramp, it might have been down to the area of narrowing of one coronary artery.

“It might simply have been exhaustion.

“There’s always going to be some risk whatever the age or strength and I suggest the obvious thing is the older one gets the more the risk probably increases.

“At least he died doing what he wanted to do.”