A father of four who spent many years taking part in competitive swimming decided to take the plunge and compete again after he became inspired by Raphoe’s Olympian sporting star, Chloe Magee who took part in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Patrick Bond from Letterkenny was among 600 people present in the Mount Errigal at the Donegal Sports Star of the Year Awards Ceremony. Patrick Bond was presented the McDaid Memorial Special Achievement by Billy Walsh, the head of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association’s High Performance Team. Patrick was delighted that his inspiration Chloe Magee was also present to receive her badminton award.
The 33-year-old man is now set on getting back on the Irish team and those who know him are in no doubt that the ambitious rugby player will achieve his dream. Patrick is also exceptionally well known for his achievements in losing weight. The Letterkenny man lost over 10 stone in a year.
The Slimming World participant who now weighs 16 stone once weighed 26 and a half stone and is en route to achieving his goal of being under 15 stone. His competitive streak drove him to shed the pounds after his wife Catherine, who runs Slimming World in Stranorlar, lost three stone.
“I am extremely competitive by nature. My dream is to get back on the Irish team again even if it is only to play Tiddlywinks. I want another bag or another track suit. I should have been on an Irish team last year when I won the master’s life saving in February. I was to go to the English championships in April but I pulled a disk in my back playing rugby in Derry and I couldn’t go,” he said.
There is no doubt that this year when the Irish championships takes place in Cavan that Patrick will be taking part.
In 2011, Patrick took part in two separate swims during August bank holiday weekend, a seven hundred metre race and a fifteen hundred metre race respectively. The first race took place in Mulroy and the second took place from Burtonport to Arranmore island. The first race he took part in was a race to raise awareness and funds for Meningitis.
“There was a swim in Killybegs in 2011 for Meningitis and it was the first swim that I trained for again. They have an open water swimming club and I joined the club. I think it is the only in the county of its kind. They train half in the pool and half in the sea. I would know Killybegs because I acted as life guard there for many years,” he said.
Patrick had been taking part in Slimming World for over a year at that stage and had lost a lot of weight. “I think that I was down to about 19 stone at that stage. To register for the swim at the time you had to have insurance. So, the first day I rang the club they asked me to come up and take part in a couple of sessions,” he recalls.
Patrick later decided after consulting with his colleague Gary Crossan to take part in the swim without a wetsuit. “He said to me that it would be more of an achievement without a wetsuit. I have never worn a wetsuit since,” he said.
In 2012, he returned to his life saving. “I had won three national titles with surf life saving titles in 95,96 and 1997. In 1995 I had won a sports star award for swimming,” he said.
Patrick is no stranger to competing at the highest standard of swimming there is. When he was a child he swam in the Community Games in Mosney. He swam with the Swilly Seals until he was 18. In 1995, he secured a gold in Belfast in the 1500 metres in the Ulster Championships. He then received the Sports Star for that year. He transferred to life saving, a national competition where he won two individual golds. In 1997 he represented Ireland in the European championships in Germany.
Patrick attributes his late return to swimming to Chloe Magee. “The main reason that I went back to swimming and turned to slimming was Chloe Magee. I was watching her play badminton in the Olympics and I said to myself what am I doing sitting here watching TV every day? I knew that I had good potential as a swimmer and that I had been wasting it for ten or twelve years. I realised that. That was one of the main things that got me up and going again and seeing her there on Friday night was unbelievable,” he said.
When the organisers of the Donegal Sports Star Award rang him this year and told him that they had been watching him and his achievements Patrick was stunned. He told them that there many other better swimmers in Donegal. “I said I know that there are better swimmers out there and I know that there is the weight element too but unless it stands up on its own two feet swimming wise don’t do it. So, I heard nothing more until I heard that I was nominated for a special achievement award, so it wasn’t solely swimming - it was swimming and weight loss. I was happy with that,” he said.
He believes that if his efforts in losing weight inspire one more person to undertake the journey that it was well worth his doing it. The inspiration for much of his achievement came from Raphoe sports star, Chloe Magee.
“At the begining of 2012, I told myself that I was going to do a six mile swim. That swim is the equivalent of a marathon. It means a couple of hours swimming. There are longer swims you can do but the 10k is probably the longest you can do in a race format,” he said.
He chose to take part in the Ulster open in Newry and took second place.
Patrick got married in 2005 to Catherine. They now have 4 lovely children together, Joseph (9), Caoimhe (8), Jack (6) and Paddy (5). All of the children are kept busy with outdoor and indoor activities as much as possible as both parents realise the importance of keeping their children active, fit and healthy.