Nancy Kerrigan Remembers Friend Killed in Planned Parenthood Shooting
When Nancy Kerrigan found out that her childhood friend Officer Garrett Swasey was killed during the Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado, she was absolutely devastated.
The former Olympian and Stoneham native was at a Christmas party for her daughter’s gymnastics team when she received the shocking news, via text message from Swasey’s father.
“I just lost it and started crying,” Kerrigan said. “The whole thing came as a very big surprise and was a horrible, horrible senseless act and a shock that completely didn’t need to happen.”
Swasey, who grew up in Melrose, became friends with Kerrigan while they were climbing the ranks of the figure skating world. Having spent years training together, including a few summers in Vail, the pair formed a close friendship both on and off the ice.
“He was always there for me with not just skating, but, oh gosh, my teenage woes of liking a boy or whatever,” Kerrigan said. “I would ride my bike from Stoneham to Melrose and hang out in his pool in the backyard and tell him how sad I was about some boy and he listened. We had a lot of fun together.”
Even when Swasey was stuck in bed for a week with a cold, his family wouldn’t hesitate to give Kerrigan a ride to the rink after school, as her mother, Brenda, is legally blind.
Their paths drifted a bit, as Swasey became a champion in ice dancing and Kerrigan pursued her figure skating dreams on the Olympic stage. However, she always knew she could count on him and loved hearing his voice among the crowd when she was on the ice.
Swasey would often wait until the cheering stopped so he could yell out his playful nickname for Kerrigan.
“Even at national championships, they say your name, they clap, when it got quiet he would say, ‘Go Yuck!’” Kerrigan said. “That was a way for me to know that he was behind me, pushing me, and helping. It was all in good fun.”
The Olympic silver medalist also credits Swasey for inspiring her to continue to love the sport, especially when times got tough.
“When you’re young, you lose the fun of doing something, you don’t want to do it anymore,” Kerrigan said. “Being around someone like that, I think, helps you keep going. I think we did that for each other.”
Since Swasey and his family were such a huge source of support for Kerrigan growing up, she knew she had to give back in the wake of last year’s terrible tragedy.
While she can’t help out Swasey’s wife, Rachel, and their two children with all of the day-to-day chores out in Colorado, Kerrigan is giving back by hosting a fundraising event in Boston.
“Unfortunately, we can’t do the ultimate to bring him back, but that’s why I’m coming and trying to do something to raise money for Rachel and the kids,” Kerrigan said. “They were always there for me growing up, Garrett, his dad, and his mom. The family was super supportive of me.”
No matter what, the Massachusetts-bred skating star will always remember Swasey as a hard working, caring person who was, above all, a hero.
“When I look back, he always was supportive and giving and kind and thoughtful and trying to do the right thing,” Kerrigan said. “Others would have been killed if Garrett had not done what he did.”
Nancy Kerrigan will be greeting fans at Hurricane O’Reilly’s on Thursday, March 31 between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. A $10 donation is suggested.