A POWERLIFTER drowned after getting difficulty in the water at a Norfolk beauty spot just two days after his 22nd birthday.
Kristers 'Kris' Bednarskis was pronounced dead after being pulled the from water at Bawsey Pits Country Park near King's Lynn on Saturday.
The amateur powerlifter was swimming when he got into difficulty at about 11.30am and a massive rescue search using drones was launched.
Childhood friend Ilja Jevtusenkowas there when his pal's body was pulled from the water.
Speaking to The Sun Online, heartbroken Ilja said: "He was just an amazing person.
"He was someone you could talk to about anything. He was always there for you if you needed a chat or anything.
"Everyone had a lot of respect for him."
Ilja raced to the beauty spot when he heard Kris was missing.
Four bystanders tried to go in and save him but they couldn't find him.
Kris was swimming as temperatures reached 30C when he got into difficulty.
Ilja said: "While we were waiting we saw the drone fly about and there was a moment I saw the drone go down and the boats going to that spot."
He added: "We were hoping it was a mistake and maybe he didn't drown. "
Kris had just celebrated his birthday two days before tragedy struck.
He and his family moved to England from Latvia when he was about 13 years old.
He used to be shy but quickly came out of his shell and fell in love with the gym.
Ilja created a GoFundMe to help his family with the funeral costs.
Ilja said: "I've known him since secondary school. His dad said his life really began when they moved to England.
"He used to be really shy and grew his hair long because he had hearing aids.
"The week before he died he became an amateur powerlifter.
"He was supposed to compete in January and now that won't happen. "
He continued: "On his birthday we had a bbq with close friends and just laughed about the good times.
"We lifted him in a chair 22 times and wished him happy birthday. You never think that he will be gone in two days".
Ilja shared a picture of him and Kris at his birthday and wrote on Facebook: "I love you forever my bro. Hope we can all make you proud."
Heartbroken pals have paid tribute to the strongman.
One wrote: "Thinking of you bro and all his family, rest easy Kristers you will be missed by many, show em how to properly lifts weights up there."
Another added: "Thinking of all family & friends and you too Ilja. Such a lovely boy & may he rest in complete peace."
The GoFundMe page has already raised more than £4,000 for the strongman's funeral.
Temperatures reached 30C in parts of Norfolk today as hundreds flocked to the water for some relief from the heat.
Two rescue boats and four fire crews were deployed to the search on Saturday.
A drone was also used to search from above as sunseekers watched the desperate search from the shore.
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Superintendent Malcolm Cooke from Norfolk Constabulary said: "Colleagues from Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service and East of England Ambulance Service assisted officers in the search.
"The body of the man was recovered from the water and he was sadly pronounced dead at the scene.
"Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family at this time."