Standing room only as hundreds gather to honour tragic young swimmer Christopher Rogers

Christopher Rogers
Christopher Rogers

Hundreds of mourners gathered today to say goodbye to a much-loved and popular Co Armagh man who tragically died after collapsing at his local swimming pool.

There was standing room only at St Patrick’s Church, Ballymacnab as people packed into the chapel to pay their respects to Christopher Rogers.

The 20-year-old swimmer took ill during a training session at Orchard Leisure Centre in Armagh city on Friday night.

Christopher was rushed to Craigavon Area Hospital and doctors battled to save him, but sadly he passed away on Saturday. It is understood he had no underlying health issues.

The impact that the young man had on others during his short life was clear to see as Requiem Mass got underway in the Co Armagh village this morning.

A second year biomedical sciences student at Queen’s University Belfast, Christopher was a keen swimmer, cyclist and musician, who also had a passion for the Irish language.

Fellow students, as well as members of Armagh Swimming Club and Armagh City Cyclists turned out to say farewell, and St Patrick’s Corran Accordion Band formed a guard of honour for Christopher as his coffin made its way to the church.

Lord Mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council, Gareth Keating said the service was “very emotional”.

He added: “While there was an outpouring of grief and sadness, there was also very much an element of celebrating Christopher’s many achievements.

“Christopher obviously touched a lot of people during his short life and made a tremendous impact, as witnessed by the huge turnout at his funeral.

“The priest also spoke about how Christopher had always set a good example for his two brothers and had been a good son. He was a very kind, good natured young man.”

Christopher, a former pupil of St Colman’s College in Newry, has been described by those who knew him as “one of the nicest guys” you could ever meet.

Friend and teammate Lachlan Mackey paid a moving tribute to Christopher on social media earlier this week, posting: “Being able to swim with Chris for a few years taught me so much both in and out of the pool. One of the most gifted swimmers the Orchard Leisure Centre has ever seen, and one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met.

“He had so much going for him and had a positive impact on anyone he’s ever met.”

Christopher leaves behind his parents Malachy and Teresa and brothers Oisin and Michael.