MANOA (HawaiiNewsNow) - A close-knit University of Hawaii team is struggling with the death of a young swimmer. Teammates found out about Frank "Peter" Chi's death after Saturday's swim meet against BYU.
"When we found out we were just shocked, everyone started crying and it's pretty hard to take," said teammate Mitch Reed.
Chi, 19, died of an apparent cardiac arrest after he was found unresponsive in his UH Manoa dorm room. The Waiakea High School graduate was being treated for Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a condition that can cause rapid heart rates. Chi's coach said the athlete was diagnosed after collapsing two years ago.
"He battled from not being able to do any physical activity for months, to getting back in the water, to overcoming his fear of getting his heart rate up and everything else," said head coach Victor Wales.
The one-time walk-on swam in eight career events for the university. This past spring, Chi won the Inspiration Award at the annual Ahahui Koa Anuenue scholarship dinner for overcoming his illness and serving as a positive role model for others.
"Anything can happen to anybody. What you really have to do is just live your life to the fullest. Have no regrets. Don't take anything for granted because you never know," said Chi in his acceptance speech earlier this year.
The team now plans to name that inspiration award after Chi and put a plaque on his locker.
"Peter was the guy you could go to brighten your day up. No matter what he said, he was funny, happy and did his best to make everyone else have a better day," said Reed.
According to his coach, Chi dreamed of becoming a doctor. Now his teammates are determined to make sure his memory lives on.
"We have to stay close, closer than ever, and we are gonna have to swim for Peter today, tomorrow, this season, forever," said teammate Luca Mazzurana.
Chi is survived by his father and older sister. Funeral services are pending, but the team plans to hold a memorial ceremony in his honor this week.