If Lucas Gentina were a superhero, he would be Aquaman.
Gentina, who works as a rehabilitation assistant for seniors living in long-term care at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital, loves everything that can be done in and on top of water. He dives, spear-fishes and surfs in his free time. Not surprisingly, he is a strong swimmer with experience in open ocean swimming, having completed courses in excess of four kilometres.
He is now planning to use his love of the water to fundraise for those residents by swimming across Elk Lake on Jan. 17. His route is just under two kilometres, starting from Water Ski Beach in the lake’s northwest corner and finishing at Eagle Beach near the Victoria City Rowing Club in the southeast corner.
“Honestly, I just want to help out my community and especially the elders of SPH,” Gentina said. “I know the (Saanich Peninsula Hospital and Health Care Foundation) donors care about our elders and want the best for them. Ideally, if we can raise money to help them in any way, that would mean the world to me.”
The proceeds of the fundraiser will come back to residents through special celebrations and equipment, he said.
“They have had an incredibly rough year. Anything helps.”
The swim starts at 10 a.m. and Gentina hopes to finish by 11:30 to a greeting from foundation members. He will wear a wetsuit and be accompanied by a safety boat as he churns through the chilly waters.
A native of Chile who has lived in Canada for some 15 years, including three years in Greater Victoria, Gentina chose Elk Lake for his fundraiser partly because he sees it daily on his way to work from the West Shore.
Bouncing with enthusiasm and never short of a smile, Gentina also sees his upcoming swim as a test run for a more ambitious crossing later this summer, with details to be revealed closer to the time.