Peter Jurzynski pictured in Folkestone town centre

It’s with much sadness that ‘Folkestone’s American Cousin’ and prolific Channel swimmer, Peter Jurzynski has passed away in a Connecticut hospital on Sunday 29 January 2023, he was 71.

Peter had been suffering a serious illness after retuning to his home town of Naugatuck following a Spring vacation spent in Folkestone.

The former US record holding Channel swimmer and frequent visitor to Folkestone was receiving treatment after being diagnosed with cancer.

Writing to the Gazette shortly after his diagnosis, Peter, who had been our unofficial US correspondent for many years, has asked that readers pray for him as he undergoes chemotherapy at his home in Connecticut.

Speaking from his hospital bed on Friday (5th August 2022), Peter said that the whole situation was all rather unbelievable.

He added: “I was in Folkestone only two months ago. 

“I ask folks in Folkestone, Hawkinge, Canterbury and Dover to pray for me.

“I hope to visit you all again some time.”

Peter first started visiting the area back in 1985 and was frequently seen in the sea at Folkestone and Sandgate training for his annual channel swim attempt.

All together he made 14 successful crossings earning a place in the record books as the most number of crossings by an American.

He underwent heart bypass surgery in 2008 and retired from competitive swimming shortly afterwards, but continued to visit the area regularly. 

Former KM reporter, Sue Potter, said: “I still recall the day when Peter first walked into the Kentish Express office in Folkestone and asked if I was interested in writing a story about his Channel swim attempt.

“Every year after that we would renew our acquaintance as he returned every summer to these shores.

“Although I left the newspaper many years ago we stayed in touch and when my husband set up the Hawkinge Gazette, Peter became our unofficial US correspondent.”

Fellow contributor to the Hawkinge Gazette, Ray Duff informed us Peter’s family will be holding the funeral on Friday (tomorrow – 11.00 am US time) at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Naugatuck, Connecticut.

Ray said: “I’m sure he will be very much missed by all, a sentiment echoed by the Hawkinge Gazette.”

More about Peter Jurzynski here

Obituary here

By Ed

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