A FATHER-of-three who grew up in West Lancashire died during the gruelling swimming leg of a triathlon in New York at the weekend.
Former Aughton Town Green Primary School and Scarisbrick Hall student Andrew Naylor died after being pulled from the US city's Hudson River during the 2.4 mile race on Saturday.
The cause of death is not yet known as doctors await the results of an autopsy on Mr Naylor, who was employed in the Hong Kong police force.
Mr Naylor was a keen endurance athlete who regularly competed in long-distance events. According to UK Athletics website Power of 10 the 43-year-old consistently finished in the top three of 10k and half marathon events - winning the China Coast Half Marathon in January 2008 and finishing 74th in the 2009 London Marathon.
He was a superintendent in the Hong Kong police force, which he joined in 1992, and was stationed in the special duties unit of the force's criminal intelligence bureau, according to the South China Morning Post.
Mr Naylor was pulled from the Hudson River and rushed to hospital after he “experienced distress” during the Iron Man US Championhip event in New York on August 11, organisers said.
Although originally said to be from Wales, it is believed Mr Naylor grew up in Aughton, attending Aughton Town Green Primary School and playing tennis at Aughton Lawn Tennis Club.
He was also educated at Scarisbrick Hall before moving on to university.
A childhood friend paid tribute to Mr Naylor: “I grew up with Andrew, went to school with him at Town Green and regularly played tennis with him at Aughton Tennis Club throughout our childhood.
“He was a very popular, intelligent and sporty child. My thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.”
The 2.4 mile swim was the first part of the race, which saw 2,500 athletes pay $895 each to endure the gruelling challenge, which also included an 112m bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.
Mr Naylor's death came just over a month after he had won the TEVA Kayak n Run competition in Sai Kung, Hong Kong, with competition partner Paul Dingley.
The pair set a course record by completing the race, an 8k run and 8k kayak, in two hours, two minutes and 18 seconds.
The swimming part of the triathlon was almost called off last week when millions of gallons of raw sewage was leaked into the water, sparking health fears as local authorities warned swimmers and boaters to avoid the river. The warning was lifted on Friday after environmental experts declared the water safe for competitors to swim in.
Mr Naylor was the only competitor to die during the event.
He leaves behind wife Lynn and three daughters, the South China Morning Post reported.
“It gives me some comfort that Andy died doing something he loved but we will miss him sorely,” the paper quoted Mrs Naylor as saying.
A spokesman for Hong Kong police force said: “A 43-year-old male police officer died when he took part at a sporting event in New York while he was on leave on August 11 (New York time).
“The police is deeply grieved by his death.
“We have been in touch with his family and will make every effort to help his family during this time of sadness.”
DID you know Andrew Naylor? If you would like to pay tribute to Mr Naylor, please contact Advertiser reporter Joe Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact him by telephone on 01704 398249.