In a daring attempt to swim across the Rio de la Plata from Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay, to Argentina, experienced Uruguayan swimmer and surgeon Gonzalo Leal tragically died from a heart attack shortly after reaching the shore of Buenos Aires, according to El País.
Leal, 56, embarked on his journey from Colonia del Sacramento beach at around 4:30 a.m, closely followed by two boats, including one with his son Octavio.
The professional, who was a swimmer by vocation, suffered a cardiac arrest late Thursday night and was taken to the shore in a boat, where a first aid team tried to resurrect for several minutes but without results.
The cardiac arrest proved fatal, leaving the Salto community mourning the loss.
An accomplished swimmer and political figure, Leal had competed in various national and international competitions and was known for his dedication to social causes. His recent endeavor to cross the Rio de la Plata showcased his passion for swimming, which he used to share with friends and followers on social media. Despite the tragic outcome, his adventure will be remembered as an act of courage.
“I am going to attempt to swim across the Rio de la Plata. The window is from February 1 to 10. I’m waiting to be enabled according to weather, tide, and permission from Prefectura. Thanks to all those who have helped me to get the urge”, he had posted on his social networks, where he had a lot of support from his followers.
Leal’s story adds to the challenging history of those attempting the Rio de la Plata crossing, a feat accomplished by only a handful of swimmers in the past century. The 47-kilometer journey, undertaken by about five dozen swimmers throughout history, holds a unique place for swimmers from both shores.
As reported by El País, the first to conquer the wild Río de la Plata was the Argentine Lilian Harrison, daughter of British immigrants, on December 21, 1923. Her father had encouraged her to break the South American female record of six hours and 48 minutes in the water.