'The process of entrapment was quick and, in full view of my family and team-mates, I became a prisoner - bullied, manipulated and abused. So complete was Gibney's control of me, that not only could I not see a way out, it didn't even occur to me to look for one.'
"When my parents signed me up to Trojan Swimming Club, they had no idea of the evil behind Gibney's interest in me. As a thirteen-year-old, who knew nothing but kindness and love, I was ill-equipped to understand what was happening as he insidiously dominated my thinking and isolated me from anyone who might come between us. The process of entrapment was quick, and in full view of my family and team-mates I became a prisoner - bullied, manipulated and abused, unnoticed by those close to me. So complete was Gibney's control of me that not only could I not see a way out, it didn't even occur to me to look for one."
At age thirteen, Trish Kearney's idyllic childhood was abruptly ended when her swimming coach - the internationally recognised George Gibney - began abusing her. Six years later, the Seoul Olympics firmly within her sights, she sacrificed a promising swimming career to walk free of her abuser.
In her memoir, she describes how suppressed memories of those difficult years resurfaced after the birth of her first child, and the momentous journey set in train when a letter arrived from former team-mate Gary O'Toole, opening the Pandora's box on the abuse - leading to a failed court case and Gibney's ultimate exposure in the press as a rampant, controlling paedophile.
Above Water is a survivor's story, of coming up for air after decades of burying trauma, and of learning to breathe again. It shines a light into dark places just as it casts its beam outwards, signalling the healing power of love, family and one woman's indomitable spirit.
This book tells an astonishing tale of one woman's courageous stance and her epic battle for justice. Trish Kearney's words serve as a cautionary tale for all, shocking and life affirming in equal measure. Above Water is a must read. - GARY O'TOOLE
Trish Kearney is a writer and mother of five living in Cork, Ireland. Her weekly 'It's My Life' column ran in the Irish Examiner for over two years. She also has a popular blog, 'My Thoughts on a Page' and was awarded Best Personal Blog and Best Writer at the Irish Parenting Blog Awards in 2015.
Above Water is her first book.