Drowning victim identified as ‘popular’ footy player
A VICTORIAN tourist who drowned after an early morning swim in a Gold Coast canal has been identified as a popular Melbourne footy player.
Mitchell Celantano, 21, went swimming with a group of friends about 5.30am on Tuesday in a canal near a private residence at Broadbeach Waters.
He dived under the water but did not resurface.
The East Kielor Football Club confirmed Mr Celantano's death in a social media post on Wednesday.
"Mitch was a popular player and member of our club and his passing will leave a void across many generations of our EKFC family," the post read.
"The Celantano family is linked right through the history of EKFC with his Grandfather Murray being a former junior coach, Grandmother Jean a club helper, as well as his parents Richie and Raelene who are so well known to so many at the club. Mitch's brother Mason is a junior player at our club, so the impact of Mitch's passing is far reaching within our community.
"Our love and thoughts are with the Celantano family and also the lads that were with Mitch on the Gold Coast at this very difficult time."
A number of other members of Victorian football clubs extended their sympathies to the family in comments on the post, with Jack Elliott from Roxburgh Park Football club saying Mr Celantano was "a great bloke on field but even better off field who was loved by all".
Others described the man's "infectious smile".
East Kielor Football Club president Geoff Nicholl said Mr Celantano's friends had returned to Melbourne on Tuesday night and would be offered counselling by the club.
He said the young man was a "talented" player who barracked for the Western Bulldogs in the AFL.
Police on Tuesday arrived within minutes and an officer dived into the water in a desperate bid to find him, but the murky conditions hampered the search.
Police divers eventually located Mr Celantano about 4 metres deep about 9am, nearby to where he was seen entering the water.
Multiple police crews, Surf Life Saving Queensland staff and friends of the missing man assisted in the search.
Mr Celantano, from the Melbourne suburb of Keilor East, had been holidaying on the Gold Coast with a group of about 10 friends.
It's understood they had been staying at a holiday house that backed onto the canal and had been in the city since New Year's Eve.
Gold Coast police Acting Superintendent Greg Baade told media it was "a terrible tragedy".
"This is a group of young people who have come from Victoria on holidays … for this to happen is an absolute tragedy," he said.
He said the circumstances leading up to the accident would form part of the investigation into the death.
Friends of the man will speak with police to shed light on the drowning.
The incident prompted a safety warning from Supt Baade.
"We always recommend that you only swim in patrolled areas or in designated swimming areas or swimming pools," he said.
An autopsy will now be conducted and a report will be prepared for the coroner.
Originally published as Coast drowning victim identified as 'popular' footy player