Yves Bourel, 22, Swimmer and Lifeguard

Nov. 16, 1991-July 2, 2014
Yves Bourel, 22, Swimmer and Lifeguard, Nov. 16, 1991-July 2, 2014

Yves Antoine Bourel, a 22-year-old former Noyac resident, died on July 2 at Newport Hospital in Newport, R.I., after having collapsed the previous day. His family said doctors are not exactly sure why he went into cardiac arrest.

“Yves woke up Tuesday morning healthy, fit, and ambitious,” his sister, Chantal Bourel, said. He spent a few minutes with his roommates and their dog, Kasey, then took a shower. “They say this happens to young fit, tall, athletic people,” she said, commenting that his death was similar to the death in the early 1990s of the Boston Celtic Reggie Lewis. 

Ms. Bourel, who lives in Boston, had “a wonderful evening” with her brother the Thursday before his death at a Billy Joel concert at Fenway Park. He had earned a Bachelor of Science in business and economics from Salve Regina University in Newport in May, and the ticket was a graduation present. She said he was excited about his future. He was a registered representative of the New York Life Insurance Company, based in Providence, and had already lined up many friends for a sales pitch: a cup of coffee and a conversation about their financial profile.

Mr. Bourel was born at Southampton Hospital on Nov. 16, 1991. His parents, who survive him, are Antoine Bourel of Ploermel, France, and Andrea (Fleischer) Bourel, who lives in Springs. He and his sister were raised on Cedar Point Lane in Noyac, a house the family sold in December. He graduated from Pierson High School in 2010. His family remembered him as thoughtful, observant, genuine, and kindhearted.

Mr. Bourel loved the water, although it didn’t start out that way, his sister said. “It wasn’t until his uncle Yves gave him a piggyback ride through the water” as a child that he found he enjoyed it, she said. He later took up swimming and joined the East Hampton Y.M.C.A. Hurricanes swim team, competing in 50 and 100-yard freestyle and butterfly races. He set several records at the RECenter, she said, though they have since been broken. He was so successful, she said, that he almost made the Junior Olympics. He dreamed of following in Michael Phelps’s footsteps, attending the Olympian’s swim camp one summer during high school and training with Mr. Phelps’s coach. Mr. Phelps even hopped in the pool.

For seven summers, Mr. Bourel worked as a lifeguard. He was most recently a lieutenant at Atlantic Avenue Beach in Amagansett, where his sister said he pulled many people out of the water. Even in March, while on a family vacation in Rincon, Puerto Rico, he spotted two swimmers in distress from the beach. He and his mother’s fiancé, Kevin Moran, a former lifeguard, sprang into action and saved a doctor and his wife who had been caught in a rip current, Ms. Bourel said. He was a member of the Hampton Lifeguard Association.

Mr. Bourel learned to sail at the Breakwater Yacht Club in Sag Harbor, and had taken part in many of its Wednesday night races. After his funeral, at a reception at the club on Tuesday, his sister, cousin, and father took a sail around the harbor. When they returned, several friends decided to jump into the water as a way to honor him, and were joined by some family members.

A wake was held on Monday at the Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in Sag Harbor, followed the next morning by a Mass at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Sag Harbor. Memorial donations have been suggested to the Hampton Lifeguard Association, c/o John Ryan, 7 Meadow Way, East Hampton 11937.