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Son: Triathlete Died Doing What He Loved

Michael Giardino, who died during Sunday's Redondo Beach Triathlon, lived every day to its fullest, his son says.

Michael Giardino. Photo courtesy Andrew Giardino.
Michael Giardino. Photo courtesy Andrew Giardino.
Michael Charles Giardino, who died during Sunday's Redondo Beach Triathlon, was following his passion that morning, his son told Patch on Monday.

Giardino, 48, of San Pedro, collapsed on the beach next to the Redondo Beach Pier after stumbling out of the water upon finishing the swimming leg of the race. Paramedics performed CPR and transported him to Little Company of Mary Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

It's not clear exactly how he died.

"My father died a glorious death because he was doing what he loved," Giardino's son, Andrew Giardino, said. "He was one of the best people you've ever met on this planet."

Police have not released Michael's name to the news media; however, his family gave Patch permission to publish his name.

At 6-feet-4-inches and about 235 pounds, Michael was an imposing figure, yet he had a friendly aura, said Andrew.

"He's the type of person where when he walked into a room, you just felt his presence," Andrew said. "You felt like you could just go and hug him, and he would talk to anyone."

This was Michael's second triathlon, but he was no stranger to physical activity, his son said. "He does 5Ks, he does 10Ks—he does those all the time."

Online records indicate that Michael recently participated in this year's Redondo Beach Super Bowl Sunday 10K/5K Run/Walk in February and the Santa Anita Derby Day 5K in April.

Michael kept a detailed record of his race preparations.

"We're all just like looking at the calendar because last Wednesday, he did a swim, a 15-mile bike ride and a 5-mile run in the same day," Andrew said.

Born in Rochester, N.Y., Michael moved at a young age with his family to San Pedro.

"His roots are in San Pedro," Andrew said. "He went to Mary Star High School (and) played football at Mary Star."

Michael played football in college until he was injured. Three years ago, his own father died.

"It really flipped the switch," Andrew recalled. "It made my dad go into this 'health mode' and ever since then, he's been training for life … He lived every single day of his life up to (Sunday) to the fullest."

Michael is survived by his wife, his son and his daughter.
Patrick Wickens June 11, 2013 at 12:04 AM
I was so sorry to hear about the passing of Michael Giardino during the triathlon on Sunday. I was riding my bike home after cheering for some friends and saw the lifeguards and paramedics doing everything possible to revive him. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. As someone who has participated in triathlons for 30 years, I understand perfectly his son, Andrews sentiments, about "living each day to its fullest"...God Bless, Pat Wickens
Lisa Dacquisto Cantrell June 11, 2013 at 10:41 AM
Beautifully written, Nicole. Thank you so much for doing this for us.
David Ehl June 11, 2013 at 12:08 PM
Thank you Lisa, for allowing the write up. I was there of course, and really affected by the paramedics having to work on someone. I remember him, spoke to him waiting to go out to the swim, I'm very saddened by the event. I love the son's quote, and fully agree with it. Prayers for your family, and thanks again to take time to let the information out.
Melissa Uribe June 11, 2013 at 01:04 PM
My condolences and prayers go out to the family of Mr. Michael Charles Giardino. Thank you for reporting, Nicole
Ramona Rebeck June 11, 2013 at 04:21 PM
The man who died in the Redondo Beach Triathlon this past Sunday, 6-9-13: Michael Giardino. He was 48. I don't know what it will take to encourage 40-something men not to participate in Triathlons. Being 40-something male, swimming fast in cold water at the start of triathlon races, too often equals heart attack and death; seems on average to be 1 man per triathlon race (sources: newspapers, but not U.S.A. Triathlon who gathers but claims it is their right to keep quiet the official data). Many of these men are in excellent shape, and it is not their first triathlon. But somehow the band plays on. No doubt another 40-something man will die next weekend. His family will be sad, but these races apparently will keep going on. Coming up soon is the 1 year anniversary of my friend, Jason Kirshner's, death (6-24-12 in Ventura). I grew up with him in Rancho Palos Verdes. We were close friends for 30 years. I still miss my dear friend oh so very much ♥. Prayers for the family of Michael Giardino. I am so very sorry.
Betty Ammon June 13, 2013 at 06:59 PM
I lost my husband, a nationally ranked triathlete, while he was on a training ride. Still latched into his peddles, he hit the ground. Had immediate CPR with no success. He was 50. In tip top shape, he rode his last ride. Yes, he was doing what he loved but I know he would rather be alive to share the success of his daughters & enjoy being Grandpa to his 4 grandchildren. There is a bigger picture! Autopsy proved he had HCM: hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an athete's kiss of death. Condolences to the Giardino family.
Andrew Giardino July 09, 2013 at 01:38 PM
About the post from Ramona Rebeck. To be honest, I feel like it's a bad-timed, misplaced rant. I'm sorry for the loss of your friend Jason. I hope his memory lives on in everyone whom he ever interacted with; as my father's memory does. As for the statement about encouraging 40-something men not to participate in these events; crazy! That's like telling a man to stop living their life at the age of 40. To put it in perspective, it would be like me telling women over 30 years old to stop trying to have children because the risk of having a baby with chromosomal disorders (amongst other complications) increases as a woman grows older. In short, that's just something I don't have the right to tell a woman although science clearly proves it. This article was not the place for you to put your post. I recommend starting a blog if you would like to get your opinion out there. Today is exactly one month since my father passed. There has not been one day, one hour, even one minute that I have not felt pain for his loss. However, every time I feel the pain, I remind myself that he went out on top doing what he loved to do and he lived his life to the fullest every single day leading up to his passing; and a smile returns to my face. Do I miss him? Of course I do. But he is very much alive inside me. His actions in his life influence my every decision and I know he's smiling down on us all from heaven. Appreciate life, love your family and train hard if you're an athlete. Always follow your passion and do what makes you feel great! -Andrew Giardino

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