Long Beach, California – The annual Waikiki Rough water swim was held earlier this month after a two-year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The hiatus was caused by the spread of the virus. A total of over 700 swimmers took part in the 2.4-mile competition, which began at Sans Souci Beach and concluded at Duke Kahanamoku Beach, both of which are located in close proximity to the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort.
Lucy Johnson, the vice president of Aquatic Capital of America, was beaming with pride as she sent out an email with the results of the renowned Labor Day swim. The race has been held annually since 1970, and Long Beach swimmers have had a lot of success in it.
However, her most recent status message was really depressing.
“Although I just received some bad news,” the message added. “During the competition, one of our local swimmers suffered a cardiac incident and passed away. (It was) Gustavo Penilla, who swam routinely with all of the others whose results I submitted to you earlier in the day.
Penilla, who was 54 at the time, attended UCLA for her undergraduate degree and then CSULB for her master’s in business administration. He has been working at Post Consumer Brands in the capacity of senior account manager for the past 18 years. He gave cereal as a donation for the goodie bags that were given to participants in the Naples swim and other activities.
Katie Rowe, a resident of Naples, expressed how “our entire team is simply crushed” by the news of his departure. “The first word that comes to everyone’s mind when they think about Gustavo is ‘gentle.’ Gustavo was a daily swimmer. Simply put, he enjoyed it to that extent. Over the course of the previous two years, he has dedicated himself to getting into excellent shape. This year, he wanted to complete the Waikiki swim, and when he was competing, he was swimming with a very fast group.
During the summer, he trained by running an incredible number of laps around Naples. Gustavo was always prepared to go for a swim on the island whenever anyone else wanted to do so.
According to his buddies, Gustavo was always looking out for the wellbeing of his teammates. In the event that one of us got left behind while we were out in the water, Gustavo would stay behind to catch up with them and ensure that they weren’t swimming alone.
According to Rowe, in order to commemorate him during training, his teammates held a memorial swim. “After saying a few words, we gathered around the lane that he swam in at Belmont, and then we sprinkled Fruity Pebbles in the water in his lane so that he will always be with us,”
“He was also my favorite person to swim with, particularly when I could swim behind him and draft off of him,” I once said. “A hui ho, my friend,” said Kaia Hedlund, who was at Waikiki at the time of the incident and shared his account with the news stations in Honolulu after it took place.
As the news of Penilla’s passing spread, a flood of comments began to arrive.
Connie Sears wrote in a text message that “Gustavo Penilla was a son, brother, uncle, and godfather who loved his family without condition.” “He was not a selfish person at all. As the godfather to our five adopted grandchildren, he showed each of them patience and acceptance during his interactions with them. He had no standards of judgment, and he loved all people. Gustavo made an appearance for his five godchildren, all of whom were dealing with unpredictability. Always.”
Jeff LaBauve remarked that the discovery of Swim Long Beach the previous year was a blessing. “Each and every member of the crew was very welcoming and accommodating. Due to the fact that I was a beginner at the time, I was initially scared by the group’s experience and skill; yet, they always made me feel welcome. Gustavo was the most impressive of those lot.
“Gustavo was a tough competitor, but also the guy in the group most likely to be watching out for the slowest swimmer,” said Julie Ruhlin. “He was happy to decrease his speed in order to make sure that everyone else was okay.”
“Even though I ultimately got somewhat faster than him, he’d let me draft him around Naples,” Michael Tran recounted. “Even though I eventually got slightly faster than him, he’d let me draft him.” “He most likely carried me across the island for a hundred different times,” she said. He conducted the sighting, which included keeping an eye out for rowers and boats, and he just allowed those of us who were following behind him to rest.
Shortly after 9:30 in the morning, a swimmer who was having difficulty in the seas off of Waikiki drew the attention of lifeguards, the Outrigger Canoe Club, and a private water safety firm. According to the Honolulu Emergency Medical Services Department, there was an incident on Labor Day involving the administration of cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Once the swimmers reached the shore, the lifeguards continued performing CPR until EMS professionals came and took over with advanced life support. Several news outlets claim that Penilla was in severe condition when he was transferred to The Queen’s Medical Center, and there is where he ultimately passed away.