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'If he'd learned to swim, Jamie's death could have been avoided'

By Claire McNeilly

Published 24/04/2015

The brother of a man who drowned said his death could have been avoided if he knew how to swim.

Jamie Pentony's 25-year-old brother Stephen died bodyboarding in Portrush on May 22, 2014.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Jamie, a father-of-two, revealed that he has signed up his young sons for swimming lessons.

"If Stephen had known how to swim, this accident could have been prevented," he said.

The environmental science graduate lost his life after getting into difficulties off the north coast.

"After what happened, it's my responsibility now to make sure my kids can swim," Jamie said.

"My wife Coleen (33) and I booked our two wee boys into swimming last week.

"My sister Leigh Jane, who has a four-year-old boy Johnny, followed suit and our brothers are going to enrol their kids too."

He added: "I've told all my friends that there is no room for excuses and to make sure their children get swimming lessons."

The 35-year-old Newry man said he believed people who can't swim should think twice about going into the sea.

"The sea is a different monster than a swimming pool," he said.

"A swimming pool has sides and it's a small area whereas the sea has rip tides and rip currents and who knows what else."

He also revealed that his youngest sibling had struggled with his inability to swim in the past.

"Stephen could never swim," he said. "He nearly drowned in a swimming pool years ago. He came out one of the chutes and went into the water and he couldn't get his feet on the ground. We used to joke about him nearly drowning in three-foot in the swimming pool."

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