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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, June 27, 2003

Kane'ohe diver, 20, died doing what he loved

By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

Charles Andrew Chiswick, 2001 Castle High School graduate, standout soccer player, honor student, artist and avid diver, died Tuesday in a free-diving accident off Rabbit Island.

"He went out doing the thing that he loved," Charlie's father, Cary Chiswick of Kane'ohe, said yesterday.

Charlie Chiswick, 20, loved many things. He was the Oahu Interscholastic Association East boys soccer player of the year in 2001 and was Castle's most valuable player in 2000-2001. He graduated cum laude from Castle. He wanted to be a firefighter. He made raku bowls and ceramic works that depicted his favorite environment: the sea. He was an avid surfer, body boarder and spear fisherman.

"He was a great player," said former Castle teammate Kealii Kuehu. "And he was a good friend."

The two had played together for various teams and leagues since they were tiny, he said.

"He was a leader," said Chris Lee, who played for Castle as a freshman when Chiswick was a senior. "On the field and off."

When Chiswick got his driver's license, Lee said, he loved piling his teammates into his father's old Honda before the games and driving them to KJ's Local Grindz, which was nearly next door. They'd stuff themselves.

"Then we'd all complain about how our stomachs hurt during the game," Lee said.

"You could always depend on him," said John Eveland, who played with Chiswick while a student and served as an assistant coach after graduating. "If things were going bad, he would try and try harder. If things were going good, he would push himself to do better."

Eveland, who had worked for Pizza Hut, recalls making a delivery to the house next to Chiswick's and seeing his teammate in a backyard pool, practicing dives, practicing his breathing, testing his limits.

"He had heart," said Matthew MacDonagh, Chiswick's coach at Castle. "He had a motor that wouldn't quit; energy that was just unbelievable."

"I know coaches and cliches go together," MacDonagh said. "But he really was all those things we say."

Chiswick had been back in Hawai'i for about a month, on summer break from St. Andrew's Presbyterian College in North Carolina, where he was a sophomore and a soccer player on academic and athletic scholarships.

Charlie Chiswick was raised on the ocean — at first living on his parent's sailboat in the Ala Wai yacht harbor, and then moving with the family to Sea Life Park, where his father worked as an underwater welder. The family eventually moved to Kane'ohe.

On Tuesday morning, Chiswick was with his father on the family's boat near Rabbit Island. It was a day like many in the past: the two together, on the water.

At shortly before 10 a.m. that day, Charlie was on his third or fourth free dive.

Cary Chiswick checked his watch, noting the minutes as they passed. At three minutes he became worried. At three and a half, he dropped anchor and dove.

He found his son 60 feet below the surface, unconscious on the ocean floor.

Cary Chiswick's efforts to resuscitate his son were unsuccessful, as were those of firefighters and Emergency Medical Services paramedics.

Authorities told Cary and Ann Chiswick that their son had suffered a shallow-water blackout, a loss of consciousness that sometimes occurs as a free diver surfaces, and drowned.

Charlie Chiswick knew about the danger of shallow-water blackout. He'd discussed it — sometimes argued about it — with his parents. He said the dives were worth the risk.

He loved the risks, the challenge, the ocean depths, the outings with friends and the time spent with his father. Given a choice, would Charlie have selected the same fate?

"He wouldn't have had it any other way," Cary Chiswick said.

In addition to his parents, Charlie Chiswick is survived by his sister, Michelle, and a number of uncles and aunts.

His family asks that friends join them at 7 p.m.Thursday at Hope Chapel Kane'ohe Bay, 45-815 Pookela Street in Kane'ohe, for a celebration of Charlie's life.

Reach Karen Blakeman at 535-2430 or kblakeman@honoluluadvertiser.com