Eddie Campion was a beacon of light for Cork swimming community

‘Mr. Swimming’ as he was affectionately known in Cork, Eddie passed away peacefully surrounded by his loving family. 
Eddie Campion was a beacon of light for Cork swimming community

Mr Swimming, Eddie Campion, President of Dolphin Swimming Club. RIP Photo: Billy Campion. NO Repo Fee.

IT was with profound sadness that the swimming community learnt of the passing of one its greatest stalwarts, Eddie Campion.

‘Mr Swimming’ as he was affectionately known in Cork, Eddie passed away peacefully on May 18, surrounded by his loving family.

The messages of support which flooded the various social media platforms in the days following his passing are testament to the esteem in which this great gentleman was held.

A native of Roman Street on Cork’s Northside, he learnt to swim in the Lee Baths, now long since disappeared.

His swimming career was cut short after he contracted TB in the early 1950s but he did not let that curtail his involvement in the sport he grew to love.

He and his late wife, Rita, herself a renowned swim teacher, set very strong foundations for what developed into a strong and vibrant club in the heart of Mayfield.

Eddie held the Head Coach position at the club for several years and helped steer a number of promising young athletes, including his own children, to great success on the National and International stage.

He was always very caring and approachable and also encouraged many who had retired from competitive swimming back into the ranks of masters swimming, thus ensuring a lifelong involvement in the sport.

He was also a highly respected Team Manager and accompanied many Irish teams on International camps and competitions.

Eddie with his good friend Bobby Madine poolside in Mayfield: two great Irish coaches. 
Eddie with his good friend Bobby Madine poolside in Mayfield: two great Irish coaches. 

It was on one such trip, when his daughter Eileen won ten gold medals at the Irish Summer National in Leisureland, Galway, that he was fêted for his coaching abilities.

Eddie was actively involved with the Dolphin Club Committee and also served on the Munster regional committee for a number of years.

He naturally progressed onto the Swim Ireland Board, where he served as the Munster Director.

Eddie was appointed President of Dolphin Swimming Club, and remained President of the club up to the time of his death.

Eddie was deeply honoured to hold the Presidency of Dolphin SC and was a regular attendee at club training sessions and galas, right up to recent times.

When Eddie would appear on deck he was immediately inundated with well-wishers, with all in attendance, uplifted by his presence.

In 1973 Eddie was appointed President of Swim Ireland, then the Irish Amateur Swimming Association, a role he held with great distinction.

In 2017, in recognition of his lifelong commitment to swimming, Eddie was inducted into the Swim Ireland Hall of Fame. His son Billy delivered the address.

He was also awarded the Cork Indoor Sports Award in recognition of his commitment to coaching and all ‘things swimming’.

Although no longer coaching with the Club, Eddie’s presence on deck in recent times was to watch his grandchildren learn to swim and he took great joy in watching a new generation of Campions following in a great family tradition.

INSTITUTION

The Lee Swim is an institution on Leeside and Eddie Campion is synonymous with the event. He has been timekeeper or starter of the event for over half a century.

In the early days of the swim, in the late 1940s early 1950s the event only attracted 20 to 30 competitors, all men in those times.

It did, however, and still does, attract large supporting crowds, cheering from vantage points along the river.

An outbreak of polio in Cork in the 1970s led to the race being transferred to alternative locations before eventually falling away.

The event was revived in 2005 and the Cork Masters Swimming Club invited Eddie back to start the race and it is a position he held until the race was again cancelled due to the outbreak of Covid in 2020.

His loving and gentle heart has left a beacon of light for all in the swimming community to follow.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílís.

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