Family's grief after Kent triathlete's body found in lake


The family of a man who died while competing in the swimming leg of a triathlon have spoken of their devastation.

Relatives of Paul Gallihawk said "words cannot express" their grief following the discovery of the novice triathlete's body.

The 34-year-old disappeared during a 750m swim at the start of the Ocean Lake Triathlon at Leybourne Lakes in Kent on Saturday morning.

It is believed the alarm was raised after he failed to emerge from the water to collect his bicycle for the second leg - a 14-mile bike ride. The event also included a five-mile run.

The hunt for Mr Gallihawk, from Maidstone, resumed this morning and his body was later found in the lake by search teams.

His parents, Malcolm and Linda, and his brother, Nick, said: "Words cannot express how we feel and what Paul meant not only to us but to all of his family and friends.

"Paul was a brilliant son and brother to Nick. He would do anything to help anyone and would always put them first.

"He had such a caring nature and will be sadly missed by all the family, extended family and friends."

His girlfriend, Hayley Wright, said: "Paul and I had been together for five years and he was the most amazing and thoughtful partner.

"He was incredible in every way and he always put others before himself. I loved him to bits and always will."

Friends of Mr Gallihawk said he was a Tottenham Hotspur fan and had recently set up and managed a side called Whitehawks FC.

They said many of them had known Mr Gallihawk since school, and that they had been left "completely heartbroken" by his death.

In a statement released through Kent Police, they said: "He was always positive, doing good for others. He was more of a brother than a friend."

On his JustGiving page, Mr Gallihawk said he was competing to raise money for King's College Hospital in London which looked after his father last year.

As his £300 target figure shot up to more than £5,000, it emerged that the event was Mr Gallihawk's first triathlon.

Messages of condolence were posted on the JustGiving site. One said: "Your loss is felt by all those in the triathlon community. Thoughts and prayers are with your family."

Another wrote: "Terribly sad but a very brave young man. Let's all give a little which will make a lot for his fund."