The family of a much-loved grandad and retired primary school teacher have remembered him in a moving tribute after he tragically died during a popular Australian open water swim.
According to the Herald Sun, retired primary school teacher Murray Howard, 65, was rescued by lifesavers but they were unable to revive him after he came into trouble in the water during the Lorne Pier to Pub event along the famous Great Ocean Road.
His wife Anne was waiting on the shoreline with their two children and granddaughter on Saturday when he was brought out of the water. She told the news outlet in an exclusive chat: “He was a very special man indeed.”
Meanwhile, his daughter Sarah remembered him as the “best dad” and added: “It was just so sudden… He was so fit and active and had been so excited to receive his medal.”
Howard ran a cattle farm in his hometown while also teaching at primary schools in Beeac and Colac.
His friend Keith Miller admitted his death was a huge shock as he was so fit and healthy. He told The Age: “He was super fit, that was the thing that shocked us most. He didn’t have an ounce of fat on him.”
Lorne Surf Life Saving Club has since issued a statement to Nine News, saying: “The Lorne Surf Life Saving Club is saddened to hear of the passing of a 65-year-old male competitor at Lorne Pier to Pub, despite the best efforts to revive him from lifesavers and paramedics.
“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the competitor.”
The Pier to Pub swim is 1.2km long, starting at the Lorne Pier and finishing on the foreshore in front of the Lorne Surf Lifesaving Club house. Up to 5000 swimmers and their families took part this time round.
Joining in the event this year was treasurer Josh Frydenberg, as well as Cats premiership skipper Cameron Ling.
The time it usually takes to complete the swim, which claims to be the biggest of its kind in the world, is reportedly around 22 minutes.