Simon Fraser University Clan quarterback Bernd Dittrich died yesterday morning after he lost consciousness in the school’s swimming pool.

Dittrich, 21, was pulled from the university’s Burnaby campus pool around 5:45 p.m. Tuesday and was rushed in critical condition to Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster. He died early yesterday morning.

Headcoach Dave Johnson said Dittrich, who was called “Bernie” by his teammates, had a previously undetected heart condition.

“He was a special young man,” said Johnson in a release. “We have 94 guys in the locker room and Bernie was one of the leaders of that group.”

Dr. David Murphy, SFU’s senior director of athletics, said their hearts went out to the young man’s family in Austria.

“Bernd was not only a great athlete on the field, but also an inspiring individual in all aspects of his life,” Murphy said.

The third-year science student, who was originally from Vienna, grew up loving American football.

He moved to Oklahoma at 17 to play high school football for the Heavener Wolves and joined the Clan in 2007. He was named starting quarterback in 2008.

His first start was the Clan’s first victory in three years and he finished the 2008 season with the team’s best record in five years. He also led the Clan to a Canada West final.

A shoulder injury, however, limited him to six games this season. He was using swimming to rehabilitate his shoulder.

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