TUSCALOOSA, AL, September 18. BERNARDO Romero, a junior swimmer at the University of Alabama, died Wednesday night at DCH Medical Center where he was being treated for complications arising from leukemia according to reports from the school. He was 21.
Romero, a native of Quito, Ecuador, had been battling the disease since being diagnosed last year. After a period of remission, he returned to the hospital three weeks ago. He contracted pneumonia earlier this week and was placed on a respirator Tuesday night.
"Everyone loved Bernie; he was a great kid and he's going to be missed," head coach Eric McIlquham said. "This is so hard because he was someone who had much more to give. I'm sad for those who will not have the opportunity to have their lives touched by his. Bernie was one who always gave of himself. Even at the end, when we'd visit at the hospital, he was always talking about the team.
“Most of the kids were up to see him Tuesday night and had a chance to say goodbye,” McIlquham said. “He fought hard for a long time. The doctors told us that he fought it longer than anyone they'd ever seen in a similar situation."
The son of Juan Carlos and Ciana Romero, he is survived by his parents, sisters Ana Maria, Cristina and Veronica Romero, brother Juan Pablo Black and a niece Emmily Mantilla.
A four-year member of the Ecuador National Swim Team and a nationally ranked triathlete, Romero competed in the individual medley and butterfly events for the Crimson Tide. As a sophomore, he also competed on the Alabama cross country team.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and teammates," Alabama Athletics Director Mal Moore said. "Bernie Romero was an excellent representative of the University of Alabama and the athletics department. He was an outstanding young man and a great teammate. He will be sorely missed."
Funeral arrangements will be announced as soon as they are available.