Vancouver Island man swims great lengths to help local seniors

It’s not the first time Lucas Gentina has risen at the crack of dawn to take a dip, but this was no easy swim.

It took him an hour and half to get from shore to shore in the Saanich Inlet.

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Last weekend Gentina made his second crossing of the year in a campaign to raise money to help seniors at the Saanich Peninsula Hospital.

“Most of the residents are sometimes bedbound or have a bit of an issue leaving the room and have a bit of a doom and gloom mentality,” Gentina, who works in long-term care at the hospital, told Global’s This is BC.

He is always trying to make a connection with the residents and bring a little joy to their lives.

“He’s always talking about his hundreds of grandmas and grandpas and all the things he does for them,” Gentina’s best friend Paul LeBere said.

“He shows pictures of them. It’s heartwarming.”

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The residents can’t believe the lengths he’s going to for them.

“They’re like, ‘What? Why?’ I say why not,” Gentina said.

Gentina learned to swim at a young age thanks to his father who competed at the national level in Chile. Bruno Gentina was a member of the country’s modern pentathlon team.

“I grew up seeing his medals. I was just a little kid and looked up at them and was like, ‘Aw I have to do something now.’ He put the bar pretty high.”

Over the course of two swims Gentina has raised close to $20,000 for the hospital.

It’s money that will buy better wheelchairs to encourage the residents to get out and explore a little.

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“Anything to help our elders and our seniors and give them a comfortable way of life, which they deserve,” Gentina said.

The hardest part is over, at least for now.

But Gentina plans to do many more charity swims, and has even earned a new nickname.

“Barnacle boy,” he said with a laugh. “Yeah barnacle boy.”

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