PE open water swimmer dies

A GENTLE giant with a kind soul, who loved to braai and swim with the best of them. That is how Pete Turner, 36, a Port Elizabeth open water swimmer, will be remembered.

Loved ones were shocked by news that Turner was found dead in his car outside the Virgin Active Gym in Greenacres on Monday.

He apparently died from a heart attack.

"I was absolutely shocked. Pete was the fittest guy I know. You would expect a guy who swam marathons to die at sea, not in his parked car. I still have a hard time believing he's really gone," long time friend Glen Fyffe said.

"We swam for Coastal Water Rescue for the last two years, but we've been friends for the past 15."

Fyffe's old Grey High School classmate, Shaun Thompson, still remembers how they used to look up to Turner when he was a few years ahead of them at school.

"Today we still looked up to him, but more because he was such a huge guy," Thompson said.

Both friends agreed they would remember Turner next to his braai, "always burning too much wood".

"Now whenever one of us struggles to light a proper fire, we will remember Pete."

According to Thompson they were part of a very close group of friends who always supported Turner when he competed in open water swimming events.

He recently completed the gruelling 7.5km Robben Island to Blouberg crossing, and was among the leaders in last year's 8km Bell Buoy Challenge.

Lorraine Deasy, of Eastern Cape Aquatics, also shared the club's condolences with the Turner family, saying the swimming fraternity was just as shocked by Turner's death.

"He was very well known among the other swimmers, and he was called a gentle giant more than once. What happened is so sad, and we will miss him."

Turner's family declined to comment.

Police spokesman Captain Stanley Jarvis said an inquest was opened and the exact cause of death still had to be determined. "We have also drawn blood as standard procedure and will be awaiting the toxicology report."