By Rose Barrett
The community of Balbriggan is praying and hoping for the full recovery of a local swimmer who was rescued by emergency services last week.
Maciej Orchowski (pictured) (42) known locally as ‘Magic’ is passionate about swimming and regularly swims from two to five times daily in Balbriggan.
Originally from Poland, Magic usually swam at the main beach in Balbriggan but owing to a recent oil spill in the harbour, he and other swimmers were using the King Strand area, near the Martello Tower.
His daughter Veronika (19) accompanied her father to the beach last Wednesday but was exercising the family dogs when she noticed someone in trouble.
“Dad was swimming with his close friends Cathy and Chloe, a mother and daughter he often swims with. I thought it was Chloe in trouble at first before I realised it was my father.
“The current took him,” said Veronika. “He disappeared behind a rock. At this stage, I was totally freaked out, in total shock. After so many months of him swimming safely and so often, that this could happen.
“Another lady on the beach called the emergency services, as people tried to throw the buoy out to him but the wind kept pushing it back.”
Veronika was traumatised as she watched the current pull her father out.
“I remember the Gardaí arrived first and went further down the rock to try to reach him. I didn’t speak with them, I couldn’t as I was so distressed.
“Then the helicopter arrived and airlifted him out of the water.”
By then, Veronika said the fire brigade arrived and the ambulance service.
“The helicopter dropped him onto the beach where he received emergency medical attention. He was dead for 11 minutes,” said Veronika, “But they revived him after doing CPR. By then, my brother Mikolaj arrived as Dad was rushed to Beaumont Hospital.”
There the father of three has remained in a coma, in the care of the ICU department.
“Monday was my mother Iwona’s birthday and she was at the hospital where my father was having scans.
“I cannot get Wednesday’s event out of my mind,” said Veronika who remains traumatised by the event.
A member of the Selkies Swimming Club, Balbriggan community and fellow swimmers held a vigil on Friday evening at the main local beach with prayers for Magic’s full recovery.
“He was a popular personality with the regular swimming brigade,” said a local. “And it was a shock that such a strong swimmer was taken by the current. We are all hopeful for his full recovery and our thoughts go out to his family.”
Meanwhile, a friend Agnieszka Tobiasz has launched a GoFundMe campaign to support Magic’s treatment and family. The couple have three children: Agata, 14; Mikolaj almost 18 and Veronika, almost 19 years. Prior to Covid 19, their father worked at Balbriggan passport office.
See https://gofund.me/4c8950f6 to donate.