As a young boy, Luke’s nickname was “Kamikaze Luke” – he was unafraid of water and would jump in from a pool’s side and paddle back to the steps to jump in again! He took swimming lessons from the age of four, and in January 2000 Luke’s mother formed Moreton Swimming Club to enable young locals to enjoy the benefits of club swimming after ASA lessons had been completed. Moreton Swimming Club grew into 4Shires Swimming Club with its base at Chipping Norton Leisure Centre, sessions were also undertaken at Bourton-on-the-Water, Kingham Hill School and the Fire Service College at Moreton-in-Marsh. Luke soon became a spirited, enthusiastic, eager and strong swimmer who enjoyed galas, competitions and trials. In the autumn of 2005, an ex-National Squad coach offered Luke one-to-one training with a view to competing at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, an offer which Luke excitedly accepted. Success in the county trials in March 2006 followed, along with study towards imminent GCSE examinations for May and June.
Luke had been a novice member of local sub-aqua club for almost two years, and had experienced one open-water dive at Porthkerris, Cornwall. On the evening of Wednesday 19th April 2006 Luke attended the weekly club session, but decided to swim rather than take part in the under-water training using the diving apparatus. In his final hour, he swam freely – sprints, endurance, starts and turns. To finish his swim, Luke took a couple of deep breaths and dived in from the deep end to swim two lengths underwater – most of his sessions concluded this way. However, Luke was unsupervised at that time and he was totally unaware that these last two lengths would prove to be fatal.
After swimming one and a half lengths, Luke suffered a Shallow Water Blackout –
- Luke had been exercising hard during his swim, this had lowered the oxygen level in his body;
- By taking deep breaths in preparation to swim under water, Luke had expelled carbon dioxide from his lungs;
- The body’s desire to breathe is brought on by a build up of carbon dioxide in the lungs (we breathe carbon dioxide out, in order to breathe oxygen in);
- Because Luke’s lungs had reduced levels of carbon dioxide, this fooled his brain into thinking there was no need to breathe;
- But his brain was low on oxygen from the initial hard exercise – and Luke fainted.
- On land, this faint would have sent oxygen racing to his brain and, after a minute or so, Luke would have ‘come round’. However, whilst laying unconscious on the bottom of the swimming pool, Luke inhaled water and therefore died from drowning.