Nancy Kerrigan devastated by death of childhood friend Garrett Swasey

ByESPN.com news services
December 03, 2015, 3:56 PM

— -- Former figure skating champion Nancy Kerrigan, a childhood friend of the Colorado police officer who was killed in a shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic, described her former skating companion as as loyal, caring and a true friend.

Kerrigan told media outlets that Garrett Swasey was "one of my best friends'' as they grew up together practicing figure skating daily in Melrose, Massachusetts. Before he became a police officer, Swasey was the 1992 junior national couples ice dancing champion, teaming with Christine Fowler-Binder to earn the title in just their second year together. The pair, which began skating together in the Boston area, moved to Colorado Springs in 1991 to train.

The 44-year-old officer at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, was one of three people killed Friday when a gunman opened fire at a nearby Planned Parenthood.

An emotional Kerrigan said she wasn't surprised Swasey took a career path in which he helped others. She added that he always had fun and did everything with a smile.

"I called him 'Ugh', he called me 'Yuck,' she told the Boston Herald. "We were always teasing each other like a brother and sister. It was him yelling that day and I could feel the energy and excitement of him rooting for me. It made me laugh. Instead of listening to music, I found that humor helped, it was good for me and it helped push me to do better.

"I always felt, for years and years, that he was definitely a big part of that," Kerrigan added. "I am very thankful for having him in my life."

Swasey's father, David, told the Boston Globe that his son moved to Colorado in the 1980s to pursue competitive figure skating and became an officer six years ago.

Kerrigan kept in touch with Swasey's family and learned of Garrett's death from David Swasey.

"You can't explain it. It's horrific and sad," Kerrigan said in an interview with Boston's WCVB-TV.

"David Swasey picked me up at school every day in high school and drove me to the ice rink ... whether Garrett was coming with us or sick."

Fowler-Binder said she and Swasey remained lifelong friends. 

"Garrett was selfless, always there to help me, always my wingman," Fowler-Binder told U.S. Figure Skating. "He was my brother and my partner. I could always count on him. This is just so tragic and senseless."

U.S. Figure Skating President Sam Auxier released a statement, calling Swasey "a kind and selfless man who was well-liked by friends and competitors alike."

"[Swasey] died in the line of duty serving the community of Colorado Springs, home to U.S. Figure Skating," the statement reads. "While we are shocked and saddened by his loss, we are grateful for his service as an officer and his impact as a figure skater. Our deepest sympathies and thoughts are with his wife, Rachel, and children Elijah and Faith."

Police say 57-year-old Robert Lewis Dear attacked the clinic. He is in custody and is expected to make his first court appearance Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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