With immeasurable sadness, the Board of the Metropolitan Local Masters Swim Committee Inc. announce the passing of Coach Paul Fortoul on Saturday December 8, 2007 from rapid onset complications of a serious illness diagnosed a few months ago.
A swimming polymath of the first magnitude, he was a constant presence in both the METROPOLITAN Local Swim Committee (LSC) and the Local Masters Swim Committee (LMSC) as well as the national governing bodies for more than three decades as a coach, official, Board member, committee chair, delegate, national relay coordinator, meet director, timing system operator and athlete. He was also instrumental in the creation of the Metropolitan Swimming Hall of Fame.
He deeply affected the athletes he coached in Masters programs at Asphalt Green, Team New York Aquatics, Red Tide, West Side YMCA, the YWCA (1999-2005) and many individuals of many affiliations. He also did similarly with the age group programs of Fieldston School, AGUA, the New York Aquatic Club and many others. No one understood, able to cite chapter and verse of every aquatic sport rule book, the intricacies of swimming rules, statistics, by-laws and policies better than Paul. In a unseen and unheralded effort of enormous dimension, he made all of us safer as we swam and our leaders more accountable with his shark-like instincts of how procedures should and must be followed for fairness and safety to prevail. Few have served the swimming community in our area and in the gay/lesbian aquatics movement in such an enduring way.
His spirit now prowls the deck of many, many pools, arriving probably even now, as he often did, in a hurry, with an impossibly bulging briefcase, but quickly deploying himself, stopwatch in hand, workout in mind, breast pocket stuffed with pens and notes to self, sporting under combed hair and with glasses perched askew on his nose, reminding us, exhorting and inspiring us, with utter equanimity to all swimmers, big and small, slow and fast, young and old to reach our potential as athletes and maybe, if we thought about it, to do the same as human beings.
Messages of condolence may be sent to the Fortoul Family:
XXXX St. Nicholas Avenue #XXX
New York, N.Y. 10033
A memorial event is planned for January hosted by Asphalt Green. Stay tuned for details and save your pictures, momentos and memories for a special day to come.