Paul Fortoul
{ "" }
Share Paul's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
FORTOUL--Paul, 49, of New York City, died Saturday December 8th, 2007, after an all too short battle with kidney cancer. He is survived by his parents, Selma and Jose Fortoul, his sister Karen Fortoul, sister-in-law Kate Goodale, nephew Jamie Fortoul, niece Nora Fortoul, as well as cousins, an aunt, and an uncle. He attended the Bronx High School of Science, and City College of New York. His passions were computers and swimming. He was an adored swim coach to many swimmers, young and old alike. His most recent positions were at Asphalt Green and Fieldston High School. Funeral services will be private. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in New York Times on Dec. 10, 2007.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by the Fortoul family
Not sure what to say?
View Printed Guest Book
99 entries
July 6, 2011
I went to elementary and High School with Paul. We weren't good friends but I knew him for all those years. He was the "nerdy" kid in our class and he was one of those guys I expected to be very successful in science or computers. I just found out that he passed away, and I am so sorry to hear this! Condolences to the Fortoul family!
Susan Tuniman Bodansky
January 10, 2010
I didn't know Paul very well, only met him a few times at swim practice with TNYA, but he stood out as a very kind person and a very good coach. I was shocked and saddened to hear of his tragic passing and wish I had the chance to get to know him better, and also benefit from his talented coaching skills. I could tell he was a special person with a big heart. I miss him and think of him often. My heartfelt condolences to Paul's family.
Jeanie Danis
April 10, 2008
I am class of '89 Bx Sci and Paul was my coach for the '87-'88 and '88-'89 seasons. In the middle of our season in '86-'87, the pool we were using at Walton High School was condemned and we were a swim team without a pool. Needless to say that year was a disappointment with one exception; by the end of the season, we relocated to CCNY and started training under Paul's tutelage. The next year primarily because of Paul's dedication, determination, knowledge and support we had one of the school's best seasons. While the success was terrific, more important are the values I developed from working hard in a positive athletic environment and the friendships which I made (and still retain). Although my experience with Paul was limited to a mere 2.5 years, his influence and my memories from that time are still strong. He will be missed. My condolences to Paul's family for a loss that came way too early.
Robert Rosenberg
February 13, 2008
Paul and his fisherman's vest with at least a dozen stop watches will always be with us. There was no one in our great swim community with more zest for fair play. When Paul came to the officials desk at an IGLA Championship, you knew you had missed an important item ususally in regsrds to his beloved TNYA but not always!

Sincere wishes to Karen and all of Paul's family.

Jon Bauer,

West Hollywood Aquatics
Jon Bauer
February 12, 2008
Paul has touched so many lives. Hearing my a moment realizing that someone cared and took pride in my progress. Profound. I can swim laps because of Paul. He taught me drills and how to actually swim a workout! We worked hard together on the Games in NY, fighting for our views and laughing all the way! Much love to Paul's immediate family and extended swimming family.
gail motyka
February 11, 2008
My deepest sympathies to the Fortoul Family.
Sandra Barrera
February 10, 2008
I attended the services today and was awed by the people who spoke and the accomplishments associated with Paul.

I knew him as many people did, as a coach and great enthusiast for swimming. He always challenged his swimmers and I have great respect for that.

It was thrilling to see the broader life of Paul Fortoul through his family and friends. I will echo an important comment: Paul did so very much and he will be greatly missed.
earl walton
February 5, 2008
Karen and Family: As these entries have expressed, Paul was a very giving person and enriched the lives of so many in the swimming world. Paul was tireless and selfless. In all the years I knew him, he never really asked for anything in return for his efforts. In fact, back in the mid 1990's we had to remind him to cash his checks for coaching TNYA. Paul we'll be missed by all.
Rob Ripp
February 5, 2008
Every one who knew Paul will always remember him as a caring person. He was a very positive and encouraging friend. He always motivated me to do better as a swimmer and as a coach.
Sincere condolences to Paul's Family, we all miss him.
John Gough
February 4, 2008
The first and last time I talked to you was during the kids swimming practice by the outside pool of Agua last summer. I can't believed that it will be the last encounter I will have with you. I was so surprised when you told me and Sue Neal almost all your life story. Never expect that it will be the last one. The memory you left behind us will forever be in our hearts and mind. You're a great dedicated person in whatever you do. I know that you will be long remembered.You are missed so much especially when we have home meets. May eternal rest grant upon you and God bless your Family and friends left behind.

Menchu L. Sanchez
Agua mother of Jude and Michelle
Menchu Sanchez
February 2, 2008
Paul, I remember we met back in the '70s when you were the manager of the CCNY swimming team and I was a Masters Swimmer trying to keep up with the kids for one more day. Back then, I thought you were the most serious person I had ever met in my life.
I remember those complicated workouts... that vest... the 14 stopwatches... those glasses!
I remember you sitting in a canoe for 5 hours with Uncle Walter -- my support team for a swim across Candlewood Lake, '85 maybe?
Over the years, it was a pleasure to see you develop into a real mensch.
You enriched my life. Thank you.
Ron Brawer
February 2, 2008
You were a good friend and a great coach...when i swam around Manhattan, you were there with our team, standing in the rain by Asphalt Green, cheering me on. If I was 15 minutes late for practice, you would look up at me over your cockeyed glasses, then look at the clock, and say sheepishly, "I'm not saying anything..."

I used to drive you home after Saturday practice, all 50 pounds of papers and you. I so wanted to get you a palm pilot and a new pair of glasses.

You gave great hugs. You combed your hair, all wet and black. You never complained that we all splashed your running shoes with our flip turns. I will never figure out all the things you would write down during practice, but I miss your your voice, your smile, your presence.

With love,

Jordan Waxman
February 1, 2008
I met you once when we were small and still remember your face from the yearly Christmas cards. I am sorry we never got the chance to get to know each other. My deepest condolences to your parents who were, my mothers cousin and his wife.
Carolina Gibbon Rojas de von Sydow
Carolina Gibbon von Sydow
January 29, 2008
Paul was an amazing human being. He was a tough coach, but he had a gentle spirit.Generous, kind, devoted all describe Paul, but they pale when trying to describe the essence of this man. To say he will be deeply missed, is an understatement.God bless you Paul.To his loving family all I can say is Paul was a beautiful being, who challenged his fellow swimmers and helped us grow.He will be missed.
Larry Williams
January 28, 2008
To the Fortoul family, my deepest sympathies. Paul was my co-worker at Asphalt Green. More than a great swim coach, he was a tireless coach in computer networking and printing, too. I'm sure this does not surprise you. If there was a challenge, he was tenacious in solving the problem, and you could count on him to provide more than one solution. We had fun talks about photography, and he was selfless with his time and knowledge. I'm glad our paths crossed. I miss him.
Daria Bursevich Haines
January 28, 2008
Paul's tireless devotion to the sport and his swimmers left an indelible mark on our lives.
Kudos to the man and his family for having given us an opportunity to know him.
Matt Clark
January 25, 2008

You died so suddenly, I still see you out of the corner of my eye as I try to ``think long strokes''in the pool, as you once told me. You are so missed, and we will forever honor your memory.
I wish I would have told you how much I appreciated you and your work while you were alive. But I guess that is what my tears are for.

Betsy Jelisavcic
January 25, 2008
Paul was a great outgoing coach. We are appreciate the great kindness an generosity he showed to me. We are missed to you. Thank you Paul. Our deepest codolences to his family and his parents.
Konstantin, Tanya Petrov's
January 22, 2008
I was priviledged to have Paul as my coach at AG. I also enjoyed many talks with him about astronomy whenever I gave Paul a ride to Washington Heights after practice on my way to work in NJ. I will miss Paul.
Henry Eckstein
January 19, 2008
Paul was one of the first master's coaches I had when I joined Red Tide in 1994. He always designed the workouts with the exact time that you should swim. He was amazing. I also know that he had a tremendous impact on the Fieldston Swim team, who, when Paul joined them, finally had an excellent coach.
I will miss seeing him at meets and the one hour swim.
My condolences to the entire Fortoul family.
Jonathan Silver
January 19, 2008
I wrote this letter for Paul not knowing he would die the next day.

December 8, 2007

Hey Paul,

I was so sad and shocked to learn how sick you are, and just wanted to say thanks for everything you’ve done for the NYC swimming community and for me. I can’t remember the first time I met you, it seems like you were a part of the swimming world since I took up swimming in NYC just after my daughter Katie was born. She’s in her first semester of college, by the way, taking aqua aerobics and really enjoying it.

We always think of you as that mathematical, numbers guy who could give complicated swim sets and remember our times better than we ever could—either that day or six months later. And you were the One Hour Swim Guru who could look through split sheets and tell where the recorder had made a mistake. You were also the guy we had to call to make sure you were out of bed and on your way so that the swim or even just regular workouts could begin on time. I remember one one hour swim where I stood at the wall after 500 feeling ready to quit and you just stopped your officiating duties for a minute and talked to me until I felt calmed down and collected enough to continue swimming. I really appreciated that.

I remember having a long discussion with you trying to convince you to get smaller, cooler glasses that didn’t look so huge and 70’s, but you would have no part of it. I always admired the way you stuck by your guns—and your seriously outdated glasses.

You are as much a part of my swimming world as chlorine is. I just went to a meet today and I know that some of my getting into the water and swimming hard was due to your influence.
Maggie Meehan
January 18, 2008
I had the awsome pleasure of being coached by Paul in the early/mid 90's when I was a part of the TNYA family. I loved Paul's intensity and love for the sport!
Michele Huyette
January 13, 2008
It was my good fortune last year to begin coming to the long course practice on Saturday mornings, when Paul was coaching, and it is a great misfortune to have lost him. It’s hard to say anything that hasn’t been said by the many others who knew Paul far better and longer. Even with twenty or more swimmers at a time, he knew exactly what everyone was doing–not to mention exactly what we should have been doing, if we weren’t. He had an astoundingly keen sense of swimmers’ potential and how to translate it into goals that were tough but inspiring. We didn’t talk much, but it was impossible not to perceive through his inquiring gaze the intelligence and support that emanated from Paul. Sometimes, in the flow of a long set–Paul sometimes started us off with a series of 200 IMs–I still feel it.
Richard F Bernstein
January 11, 2008
Our love to all whose lives were touched by Paul Fortoul. Our thoughts and prayers to our friends who are his sister, sister-in-law, nephew and niece: Karen, Kate, Jamie, and Nora.

from Elaine, Donna, Nessarose, and Ariela
Elaine schear
January 11, 2008
As one of the sideline supporters of the swim team, I had many opportunities to see Paul in action, interact with his usual droll wit, and admire his ability to keep his eyes on 10 different things at one time. I will always remember one persona of Paul at meets and workouts - Mr. Splits! His vest of many pockets, stop watches and other items in them all. Helping keep times at the hour swim, he would not only clock various lanes but also admonish us if we did not change the lap counters soon enough. Ever the organized, man in charge, Paul, off the pool deck, was a sweet and sensitive softie! He will be missed. To Karen, Kate, his nephew and niece and most of all, his parents, my deepest and heartfelt sympathies.
Dave Horvath
January 10, 2008
Dear Selma, Jose, Karen, Kate, Jamie & Nora,
I met Paul as a swim coach, and benefited from his skilled and attentive coaching as we all did. Over the years, however, I came to love & respect him most for the unique, steadfast role he played in your remarkable family. His appreciation for all of you extraordinary people shone more brightly as he grew older. He glowed whenever he spoke of you and when he was in your presence, his quiet delight was unmistakable. It is terribly sad to have lost him so suddenly and at such a young age. At the same time, it is a comfort to reflect on his deep capacity to treasure the gifts life gave him. I learned from Paul more than I knew at the time, and I will not forget it. My heart goes out to all of you.
Jane Alpert
January 10, 2008
New York swimming and masters swimming at large lost its best friend and its best coach. Paul left an indelible impression for everyone he touched.
Swimming, going forward, will never be the same without Paul.
His spirit and generosity, however, will live on in our memories and in our hearts.
Robert Watson
January 6, 2008
Karen and Family,

I am so sorry for your loss. Although I did not know Paul that well, I realized how giving he was with his time, and how helpful he was to so so many... swimmers and non-swimmers. He was a gem!

My prayers are with all of you.
Bill Paine
January 5, 2008
As an extremely novice swimmer with TNYA, I’d like to thank Paul for always treating me with enormous respect and consideration. I didn’t get to practice with him very often but I appreciate the great kindness and generosity he showed to me. He is and will be missed by all of us.
Andrew Taines
January 4, 2008
I first met Paul 30 years ago when we both worked at the CCNY computer center. One of my fond memories of Paul took place when I had gone through a tumultuous breakup at the time - and I was hopelessly moping around the office in misery. Paul started to teach me about VM and the wonders therein. Reluctantly at first, I started to gradually pull out of my funk and get to appreciate that wonderful state of mind known as VM. I am forever indebted to Paul for his gentleness, intelligence and easy laughter. Thank you, Paul.
Alan Schwartzman
January 2, 2008
December 25, 2007
Paul started with me at CCNY as a non-competiive swimmer. Through hard work and perserverence he became an important part of our team. He developed a true love of the sport and became a very successful coach in his own right. Paul's dedication to swimming and his commitment to swimmers was outstanding. He will be sorely missed by all those who had the good fortune to know him.
Marcelino Rodriguez
December 25, 2007
Over the years, Paul generously shared his energy and enthusiasm for swimming with the 63rd Street Y Masters team. Paul’s hearty burst of “GO” at the turns will ring loud in my memory for years to come and serve as strength of spirit to carry on a wholesome commitment to the sport. I am deeply grateful for his life and service to the swimming community.
Patrick Bridges
December 23, 2007
paul was one of a kind - there will never be another paul fortoul. it is the end of an era which holds many fond memories. i'll always feel honored to have known and swam with paul. he remains in the hearts of many masters swimmers.
gwen deely
December 22, 2007
Paul was dedicated and ready with his stop watch when it was time to get those laps rolling. Death took a conscientious coach before the race should have been over. My fondest recollections will include talking Bronx High School of Science swimming with Paul, as he and my daughter went there.
Barbara Litt
December 22, 2007
Dear Fortoul Family,
I have been in this site several times and each time I deleted what I wrote. I can't find the words to epress how I feel. I really loved Paul and appreciate all he did for me over the years. I miss him and he will have a special place in my heart forever.

Love, Karen Einsidler
Karen Einsidler
December 22, 2007
Selm, Jose and Karen

I am so sorry to hear about Paul. He will be missed. Not only by you his close family but by swimming and computer world.
George W. Elder
George Elder
December 21, 2007

I am just hearing about the passing of Paul. My heart is saddened. My condolences and prayers go out to you and your entire family.

Catherine Worsley Parham
December 20, 2007
Dear Karen, Kate, and the Fortoul family.

I am so very sorry for the loss you've experienced. When we were both students at Bronx High School of Science, Paul was one of the upperclassmen that I looked up to - especially when it came to our shared interest in computers. He made my high school experience richer.

I am saddened by his passing and will be praying for God to comfort you during this time.
Rocklyn Clarke
December 20, 2007
Paul was a tough coach that always wanted what was best for his swimmers. Even though I only trained with him for a limited time, I will never forget his one of a kind practices, his dedication to the sport, as well as his great personality.

My condolences to the Fortoul family.
Audrey Daboudet
December 19, 2007
One Hour Swim, Team New York Aquatics, NYC 2007
December 19, 2007
Gay Games, Amsterdam 1998
December 19, 2007
Paul, we will miss you. Swimming with TNYA won't be the same without you. I will never forget all you did to help me prepare for NY in '94 or how you brought the joy back to swimming for me. You were one of a kind!
Bruce Hayes
December 18, 2007
Paul, I will miss you on deck at TNYA workouts. You knew my times and intervals better than I did! Thank you for your interest in my swimming and for all that you did for TNYA over the years. We will all miss you. My condolences to your family.
Tom Malcolm
December 18, 2007
Paul seemed to make swimming an intellectual event as well as a physical one, and challenged us to think about it differently from any other coach I've encountered. I'm sure his philosophy and his enthusiasm have had a lasting impact, which is no doubt making him happy wherever he is now.
Jennifer White
December 17, 2007
Jose, Selma
Nothing we can say can make this right.
But Paul was loved by all of us here at the Lake. We will miss our yearly visits with him. His smile was so warm and the care he took of both of you so loving. Our prayers to you both, Karen and Kate and Jamie and Nora.
Joe & June Werne
December 17, 2007
Paul so obviously loved swimming and loved helping his swimmers and teammates be their best selves in the pool. I’ve never known anyone more generous when it came to noticing and appreciating others’ accomplishments, from novice swimmers struggling to complete an entire length of butterfly to world-class swimmers setting records. I loved the way his eyes lit up when talking about whatever excited him, and treasured knowing that I would see that same expression on his face whenever I swam a tough set well. I miss his cheerfulness, his quirky sense of humor, and the beautiful intricacies of his workouts, and I join with his family and the entire swimming community in mourning his loss.
Janet Harris
December 17, 2007
I heard just recently of Paul's death and I can not say how sad it makes me. I have read the entries and it needs to be noted that Paul's pool career extended beyond swimming to the real reason pools were invented: water polo. I swear Paul was the only guy I know who held his rec spex together with the same paperclip he used for his glasses. Now don't anybody get mad at me for making fun of Paul now--I never held back when he was around. Thank you, Paul, for taking my ribbing, I will sorely miss your not being here to give it back like you always did.
Jack Curry
December 17, 2007
I will remember Paul not only for his tireless dedication to the sport of swimming but also for his wonderful laugh - it was robust, heartfelt, genuine.

My sincere condolences to the Fortoul family for their loss.
Mark Quigley
December 16, 2007
My most heart-felt condolences to the Fortoul family. Paul meant so much to so many of us.Ann Jamieson (New York, NY)
Ann Jamieson
December 15, 2007
Paul -
I was stunned at the news of your sudden death. I never got to know you as a friend but always thought of you as a kind, gentle heart full of compassion for the rest of humanity. I always enjoyed speaking with you at the many post-workout lunches we had at the Greek diner near CUNY.

I prefer to imagine you gone out for a long solitary open ocean swim. May you find a most beautiful island for your final rest.
Alessandro Motter
December 15, 2007
What good fortune it was to have happened on those Saturday morning Masters workouts way back when, even before Paul was given his signature "vest of many pockets".
Thank you Selma, Jose, Karen and the Universe for giving us Paul, a giant of a coach and a giant of a person.
Susan Murray
December 14, 2007
We will miss you Paul. You brought an uncommonly wonderful zest and personality to swimming. Only one coach could walk on deck and read off everyone's swim pace from memory. You had that much innate dedication. You will be missed and remembered for how you touched our lives all these years.
Peter McGrane
December 14, 2007
I knew Paul to be a great coach who always had time for his swimmers. Paul was always everyone’s coach regardless of what team they swam with. I swam for him as an athlete and I worked with him at several pools and he was always professional, caring and a giving person. I wish his family my condolences in their time of hardship.

Bruce Semer
December 14, 2007
My sympathies to the Fortoul family on the loss of Paul. He was a fantastic coach and a kind man. I admire Paul greatly for doing what he loved -- swimming -- he lived it and breathed it and it gave him wonderful happiness, which he shared with us along the way. Bill Carr
Bill Carr
December 14, 2007
My most pleasant memories of getting back into competitive swimming were with Paul Fortoul coaching us early in the a.m. at City College many years ago. Even though I was never fast and not the most consistent team member, Paul always made me feel great about being part of the team, making progress, enjoying every aspect of our competitive sport and I think he was instrumental in fostering that special camraderie. I can't think of anyone who was more selfless and it was always great to run into him over the years and just experience his uniqueness. It was great when we swam at Roberto Clemente and shared a day with Paul, Karen & his parents. My heart goes out to the family, Karen & Kate, my deepest sympathy.
Freyda Faivus
December 14, 2007
Selma and Jose we love you both so very much and we're so sorry. We aren't just friends, the passing of years welded us together and we are family. We love you! Kitty, Van, Pop, Sharon, Nikki, Leslie, Pip
Vivian Goins-Lewis
December 14, 2007
My condolences to Paul's family for their loss. Paul was an inspirational swim coach. He was always on the ball and made me feel like I can always beat my time. His dedication and commitment was admirable and he was an asset to TNYA and shall be sorely missed.
Nadeem Ghali
December 13, 2007
Paul, we go back many years. You are an amazing coach and admired colleague. I can't believe you're gone. When I heard you were sick, I had no idea how serious it was and I was looking forward to seeing you at the One Hour Swim in January. Well, if there's a bright side, my swimmers will get an extra 5 yards this year because no one else could extrapolate their splits so quickly and figure out that I fudged a little to their advantage. On behalf of all my swimmers, I am dedicating this year's One Hour Swim to you Paul. My sincere condolences to your family.
Brian Robinson
December 13, 2007
A unique man who found his niche, albeit for too short a time.
A gifted and inspiring teacher and coach.
Demanding and expecting the best of us, but at the same time generous and patient. I wish I had known him better and longer but nonetheless appreciated his excellent coaching and commitment to us.
Daniel Rosemarin
December 13, 2007
My sincere condolences to Paul's family. I always felt a little sense of dread when I saw Paul was going to be our coach for swim practice, but after it was all over I always realized what a great workout I had. No one could track swimmers and their times like Paul. I think he had an extra brain in his head just for timekeeping. He made everyone try their best because he'd know if you didn't. He will be sorely missed.
Tom Gelinne
December 13, 2007
Sweet memories of the last 21 years. How we got from a rag-tag bunch of folk at Gay Games II in 1986 into the mighty Team New York Aquatics boggles the mind.

I miss you already.

Deep love to Mom, Dad, Karen, Kate and the kids.

Good night sweet prince. Swim fast.
C.A. Hutton
December 13, 2007
Paul Fortoul is home for nyc swimming. I don't think there is a single pool he hasn't coached at!
He was the most supportive , competent, and loving coach i have ever had! He always made me feel welcome whether i was 20lbs overweight and hadn't worked out for 10 years! he always had faith in a person. He LOVED swimming more than anyone i knew and I loved his workouts. They always seemed personally tailored for me. He had a way of making everyone feel special to him. His positive approach/ sometimes "tough love" made you want to work hard to meet his care!

My life was changed for the better many times by Paul. I loved his passion for swimming and HE was so dear to me! I always look ed forward to running into him and catching up. I will miss him dearly. Eileen Loveless
Eileen Loveless
December 13, 2007
Paul made me (and perhaps every swimmer) feel I was the only one being coached; his heart and mind were that big. My deepest condolences to his family, and his parents most of all.
John Quinn
December 13, 2007
I will definitely miss this wonderful guy. My heart goes out to his loving parents and to Karen and Kate and to Jamie and Nora. I had a chance to have breakfast with him in the beginning of the summer, just before he first became ill and I will cherish the memory of that morning. He was his usual quixotic self, full of information, ever so playful about his own life, and full of joy about his nephew and niece. I'm sure we who swam under him are all grateful for his attention. His prodigious memory (particularly of individual's times for different events at any number of meets, mine included) elevated him to the status of legend in the swimmng world. He will be missed but not forgotten.
Ed Dunne
December 13, 2007
I was totally intimidated by Paul the first time I attended one of his practices at the YWCA. I was new to Masters Swimming and not quite prepared for his demanding workout.
A couple of months later, at my first meet ever, I was able to fully appreciate what Paul's coaching style contributed to the performance of every swimmer on the team - and I was deeply impressed by his devotion to the team and interest in each individual swimmer.
Despite all that serious concentration on splits and stroke technique, Paul also had a fantastic sense of humor. He will be greatly missed.
Amanda Eckler
December 13, 2007
I swam with and was coached by Paul for almost 25 years. Paul was a swimming purist who loved the sport and its people . As I told Paul , he had a tremendous effect on his swimmers. He got them to places they never thought were possible . We had a very intense coach-swimmer relationship, in which he pushed me hard , day in and day out . At times I was angry about the pushing, but I loved him for it.He would give me a brutal set, and I'd look at him as if he'd let me out of it, and he would say " Steve do you want to be a butterflyer........?" So I would do the 5x200 Fly long course, or the 50x50 fly... At the end of a long season , when I had done yet another personal best, there was nothing better than sharing it with Paul .
Paul was also a highly intelligent and interested citizen of NYC , and we had many great talks in my car as I dropped him off at home after practice.

I will miss Paul very much.

Steve Sokolow
Steven Sokolow
December 13, 2007
with fond remembrances of Paul Fortoul: fellow swimmer, fellow coach, and good friend
Chris Packard
December 13, 2007
Paul, you will never be forgotten, thank you for your caring and dedication to the sport of swimming. The One Hour Swim will never be the same without you present, but you will be in my heart motivating me forever. I will miss you...
Joan Roche
December 13, 2007
We will all miss Paul dearly, his gentle demeanor, dry sense of humor, infinite intelligence and his pure dedication to all facets of swimming. Thank you Paul for your friendship and your tireless contributions to swimming, I’m a better person for knowing you. Rest in peace, this is your eternal “warm down” set.
Vol Davis III
December 13, 2007
Paul, Paul, the best coach. I tried never to miss one of your workouts. I knew you would always know what i could do and try to push me a little further.
Tom Blatt
December 13, 2007
Paul you are a legend in New York City Public Schools Athletic League swimming. I met you at CCNY when you were running city championships there in the early 80’s. Couldn’t believe there was someone more into swimming than me. You loved the sport and players in it from kids to masters. So often we shared pool space on deck, you with multiple stop watches, pens, clip board, glasses and vest, never missing a race or a split. You befriended so many PSAL swimmers; they and so many others you touched will dearly miss you.
Bob Kolonkowski
December 13, 2007
i was always amazed at paul's ability to have a pool full of swimmers and he could remember what each of our intervals were.
what an amazing coach. i remember swimming one day and paul gave a kick set. i started kicking and all of a sudden i was kicking like i never did before. he looked at me and said i knew you had it in you. when i kick now i will always think of paul. will always be in my heart. i don't think any of us will ever get in the pool again without you in our thoughts. peace.
larry smith
December 13, 2007
My condolences to you on the loss of Paul in your family ... he was a wonderful coach .. totally engaged and focussed on each person in his view .. always watching, always aware, and alway rigourous and caring, always knowing you could do better....
Judy Gerrard
December 13, 2007
Paul was the best coach ever. He kept track of everyone's times as though each swimmer were the only one in the pool. He will be missed by the entire swim community.
Martha Katzeff
December 13, 2007
As a swimmer on teams in Washington DC and Fort Lauderdale, FL I would see Paul, at most, one time a year, but he ALWAYS had time for a warm "hello" and a sincere "how have you been doing" for me. He had such a love for swimming and all that participated in it and he will be remembered and missed! It is interesting how some people, so unsuspecting, can make such a postitive impact!
Marty Hendrick
December 13, 2007
Paul changed my life. He got me into the water, then into the swim team, then into outdoor summer swimming, then into competition, then into meet management (Bonnet Races, GGIV), then into team management - always with perceptive encouragement, and wise guidance. He will always be my prime image of a coach. By his example, I learned the dedication to morning workouts. Paul was a coach and a teacher (of many things); he had a big heart and was passionate about life and justice as well as about swimming.
Karen Sauvigne
December 13, 2007
Paul was one of my first swim coaches when I joined the masters team at CCNY in the early 80's For nearly 16 yrs I swam where Paul coached. And I realize now that he spoiled me rotten when it comes to workouts! His attentiveness to all, the complexity of the workouts.the glasses, the watches, his memory, breakfasts on Saturday morning after practice..... Paul will be so missed by so many
My deepest sympathies to Selma, Jose, Karen, Kate and the kids.
Harriet Zucker
December 13, 2007
The degree of your influence on many lives is only sinking in now, Paul. That recurring insistence that I do butterfly for my stroke sets - yeah, it was challenging, but seeing a triumphant smile on your face somehow made me come back for more, despite barely being able to come up for air. Even now, you keep making a lot of people keep at it, Paul, harder than before. We owe you. Thank you for making a positive and lasting impression on our lives.
Eugene Skorodinsky
December 12, 2007
Paul was inspiring and caring as a coach. There could be a pool full of swimmers, and he would still notice if you were swimming at your potential; he was impressive.

Teammate, Corey and I saw him in the hospital. Paul was tired and needed to rest so I didn't stay long. Before leaving, I asked for words of wisdom and Paul said, "There's no substitute for hard work."

I cried the day I heard Paul had passed.
Kent Lau
December 12, 2007
Paul was an amazing coach. He had the ability to coach 8 year olds all the way to 90s. I intentionally attended many of his workouts knowing that in the long run it will definitely pay off. As a coach I also used some of his sets in my workouts because I knew he was a natural while I on the other hand struggled. There are very few people who have a deep passion for our sport & he definitely showed it. I'll miss his loud "Ready Go", him knowing I miscounted the 500Fr, him asking me why a breathed every 3 on a 50Fr...Yes he was that observant & I will truly miss that. This is a great loss to the NYC swim community & my sincere condolences goes out to his family & his huge swim family. I'm still in denial of him leaving us but thank him for making me a better swimmer, coach & person.
Onesimo de Mira, III
December 12, 2007
I want to say something profound or clever about Paul, but the words just won't come. Maybe it's because, in so many ways, Paul himself spoke with actions rather than words .

Being there so consistently in the morning, always. Staying later at a practice to throw down a few extra sets. Quietly, bemused. Creating intricately rhythmic workouts that sounded scattered but made perfect sense when you swam them. An uncharacteristic, spontaneous hug after a practice. Complete and utter total recall. Knowing swimming, knowing the swimmers. The vest, the hair, the glasses....he was just so Paul, and he really should have been here in NYC for a couple of thousand more tides.

The loss of Paul Fortoul is to be mourned not only by his family and his swimmers, but by NYC. He exemplified the rugged individualism for which we NY-ers are renowned. Rest in peace, Coach.
Heidi Chadwick
December 12, 2007
My sincerest condolences to Paul's family. He was a well-known and widely-respected coach, expert and advocate in the NYC swimming community and beyond. I so enjoyed the noon workouts with Paul at Asphalt Green for the past two years; we always wanted to swim well for him - because he really knew everyone's time and what we were capable of (it was amazing to watch him figure out split calculations in his head!). Even when I wasn't always up for doing the workouts, I was grateful to be there - he was such a reassuring presence. It was a pleasure knowing this kind, encouraging and dedicated man. I will miss him dearly, but am comforted knowing that he is at peace and that he will still be watching over us as we swim…
Priscilla O'Carroll
December 12, 2007
Sparky! It will be tough going to a meet and not seeing you acknowledge a good swim or a bad swim and the kind words of wisdom that you would give afterward. Your passion for the sport will always be remembered.
I never swam for the Manta Rays, or on a team with you but I will always remenber your 200M Fly at Empire State games in 1978. I will remeber swimming at CCNY in the late 80's and you running the Masters WO. Thanks again.
You will be dearly missed!
Steve Shtab
December 11, 2007
I have lost track of how many years Paul and I knew each other. He was, in my experience, a unique coach. Some swimmers didn't get him, others appreciated him, and many more, like myself and the other swimmers who have commented here, "got him". Watching Paul come up with a workout was fun and frightening. As Bonnie wrote, it was amazing how well he knew his swimmer's splits and times and how fast they should and could be swimming. You couldn't get away with anything when Paul was your coach. The few times when I mentioned that the splits we were swimming were a bit tight, Paul would just look at me and say "you didn't have any trouble doing it 4 weeks ago" and then smile. I just shook my head wondering how he could remember what I was doing 4 weeks ago when he had so many other swimmers to keep track of. But that was Paul. Watching him with his stopwatch - looking down the lanes as he got everyone's times, just made me wonder how many processors he had in that brain of his (Paul and I were both into computers).

But Paul wasn't just about swimming, he was a good, funny and fair person. Getting into a conversation with Paul was easy, getting out of it wasn't. We would talk for hours before one of us would mention the time, or how late we were to meet someone, or "I think my heat's coming up". Paul knew when your heat was coming up ("no, you have time").

It is terribly sad to imagine that I (we) will never see him again. But his memory and his energy will live on with us for the rest of our lives.

To his family, I am so sorry for your loss. But you should know that Paul left a lot of friends who are proud to have known him. His time here was much to brief, but it would have been a more boring world without knowing him.
Kenn Lowy
December 11, 2007
My Dear Sweet Loving Kind Paul...

You were my friend...a kind... generous and handsome man...who believed
in my career as an actress and was
selfless...your favorite show was WESTWING. I loved you
so dearly...trusted you with all my are
probably the one and only person in this world who
I've shared my secrets with. I'm gonna miss you so
much but I know your spirit lives on....within me... the
numerous lives you've touched...your loving family and friends and on the many pool decks
in which you coached.

I have never swam so fast in my entire competitive
swimming life as when I swam under you...I got so fast
that you even encouraged me to compete again! You pushed
me so hard and I loved every moment of it. Believed
that I could do anything I wanted to do and that I
would succeed...You gave me truly inspired me...

I'm gonna go for my dreams wholeheartly Paul and make
you proud...thank you for watching over me and for
being my friend, mentor and swim coach...Thank you for listening to my many stories while i was a lifeguard at The West Side YMCA...I know I can go on and on...and on and on...thank you for listening and for your patience and generosity...You touched my soul so deeply...I love you :)

Jennifer Anderson
December 11, 2007
Sincere condolences to the Fortoul family. Where i only casually knew Paul through swimming and his days at CCNY he was always professional. courteous and strived for fairness. His passing, where a devasting loss for his family is also one for the swimming community, where he was and will be respected and appreciated!
Nick Cavataro
December 11, 2007
To the Fortoul family, my deepest sympathies. As an alumni of the CCNY swim team Paul was the person you would go to in order to get things done. What ever data a team member needed to improve Paul would have it. Paul also had nothing but possitve and motivational words for all the members of the team. This attitude has created friendships that still continue. His passing is truly a loss for us all.
Georges Mathieu
December 11, 2007
Paul Fortoul was a legendary coach in the New York swimming community and will be missed by all. He often channelled a Marine drill sergeant, but sometimes that was what we needed. Rest well, old friend!
Bob Nelson
December 11, 2007
Paul meant so much to me as a coach, mentor and friend, and I miss him terribly. He is the only one I enjoyed getting up at 4:45am to swim for. I would push myself just for him, because I knew it made him happy. Beyond that, I enjoyed working with him and learning from him at the swim meets he directed. He taught me so many things. I felt honored that he would ask me to cover practices for him and even more honored when he let me pick out new glasses for him! I will never be as good with a stopwatch as he was, and I am amazed at how well he knew each and every one of his swimmer's splits and times they *should* be swimming. I promise that one of these years soon, I will break the goal we set together for my one-hour swim. His positive impact will be felt by the entire swimming community. My sympathy to your family, Paul, for I know they must be missing you. I will never forget you. Your legacy will live on. With Love.
Bonnie Schwartz
December 11, 2007
To Paul's parents and Karen--I am so sorry for your loss. Paul was one of the dearest people I have ever known. I will always remember looking for him on the pool deck and thinking, "Great, Paul is here!" His steady and intelligent approach created a santuary for those of us lucky enough to have him as our coach. I will never forget him.
Lisa Martin
December 11, 2007
Paul was a wonderful coach for the AG Masters team. He was so helpful to me as someone coming back to the sport after many years. His memory will live on at our workouts. My warmest thoughts and deepest condolences to his family.
Courtney Greene
December 11, 2007
Paul was our coach at the Y from 2002 until his illness. He transformed us from a group of undirected recreational swimmers to a team of hard-core open water swimmers. With patience, good humor and dedication, he led us through grueling work-outs. His complete faith in us encouraged us to accomplish feats we thought impossible. More importantly, Paul was a really nice and caring man. I will personally carry his voice and encouragement with me forever. I miss him terribly.
Francine Alfandary
December 11, 2007
Dearest Paul,

I want to tell you how much your support and guidance meant to me. Your gentle nature guided me through some of the darkest waters in my life and brought me back safely. That is a gift I will never forget. I will also fondly recall when you got my time corrected in the 50 Fly and you said to me "feel better now" and when they pulled me out of the 5K at Huntington Bay, you told me - "next year - different race". Then you took my picture!

Thanks for these memories and for coaching me and Jane to Worlds!

sharon snyder
December 11, 2007
The world has lost a kind person and a friend. My deepest sympathies the to entire Fortoul family. I can't begin to say all of the nice things Paul did for me and everyone around him. He was one of the most dependable person I ever met. His memory will always stay in our hearts and of course the water!
Jimmy Drakopoulos
December 10, 2007
My depest sympathies to your and your family, Karen. May God bless you.

Peter Carrier
December 10, 2007
I first met Paul when he was a teenager. Growing and maturing, there were qualities that he never lost – an aura of innocence and purity; and an ability to convey warmth and humanity with the most straightforward and simple statements. When Paul said “it’s good to see you”, I could feel how deeply he meant it. The last words that he said to me were “Don’t be a stranger.” And those words have locked in memories of a fine, smart, gentle, uniquely individualistic man,and a closeness that I will feel forever.
Rennie Fleckman
December 10, 2007
I'm so sorry to hear about your brother, Karen. I know your entire family will be feeling his loss this season especially. Know that we'll be thinking about you.
Marjie Alonso
December 10, 2007
Selma, Jose, Karen and Kate, I was so saddened to hear about Paul. Carlos and I will keep you in our thoughts.
Marissa Martinez
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences