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Family's tribute to Christopher Rogers who died after collapsing at pool in Northern Ireland

By Angela Rainey

A family has been plunged into mourning after a young Armagh man - described by his brother as "the strongest and fittest person I knew" - died after training at his local leisure centre.

Christopher Rogers (20) passed away on Saturday morning at Craigavon Area Hospital after feeling unwell following a training session at Orchard Leisure Centre the night before.

Staff at the pool rushed to his aid until an ambulance arrived.

Fit and healthy, with no obvious health complaints, his family said the keen swimmer's heart stopped suddenly.

Christopher - a member of Armagh Swimming Club - was rushed to hospital, where doctors battled to save him.

When his heart stopped, his mother Teresa whispered in his ear that she loved him. Christopher's heart then restarted and he bravely fought on for more than two hours, giving his family the chance to say goodbye.

Described as "popular" and having "an infectious smile", Christopher is survived by his parents Malachy and Teresa, as well as brothers Oisin and Michael.

Oisin, who rushed to his brother's bedside to say his final goodbyes, paid tribute to Christopher on behalf of his family.

"Chris was not unwell at all, he was the strongest and fittest person I knew," he told the Armagh I website.

"He was only 20 years old and we were looking forward to celebrating his 21st birthday in June with all the family around.

"Christopher's heart had stopped beating and the doctors had stopped working on him.

"At that point my mother Teresa held his hand and spoke into his ear - 'Christopher, please wake up, I love you'.

"After this, his heart started and he started breathing by himself.

"For two-and-a-half hours he fought bravely to allow us enough time to say goodbye to him.

"It was the power of love between my brother and mother that made him fight on, that allowed us to share those last moments.

"This final fight for life was Christopher's final gift to my mother.

"I made it to the hospital three minutes before he passed away, and that just shows that he wanted everyone to have enough time to say goodbye. Even when he was about to die he was selfless and brave, just as he was in life."

Oisin added that the family had been moved to hear others recall fond memories of their son and brother and, in particular, to hear him referred to as "a gentleman".

He added: "Chris was a great lad and we all love him and are immensely proud of him. The support from friends and loved ones has been amazing."

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council described Christopher's death as "devastating news".

"We are deeply saddened that a young man died in Craigavon Area Hospital in the early hours of this Saturday following an incident at the Orchard Leisure Centre on Friday evening," it said.

"This is devastating news and our deepest, most heartfelt sympathies are with his family at this time.

"All relevant authorities were immediately notified by the council and the PSNI has confirmed that it is not treating the death as suspicious."

Funeral plans have yet to be confirmed.

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