“Kenny” Din, named locally, was among an organised group which had gone to Newquay, where the accident happened on Tuesday evening.
Edward Lopez, chairman of the Filipino Handog Natin Charity, said the 27 year old was looked up to as a “big brother” by those he gave his time to and his death was a “big shock” to Coventry’s large Filipino community.
Describing the death as a “tragedy”, Lopez said: “He’s part of the youth group in Coventry and so he’s seen as the bigger brother to the younger people.
“It’s very shocking – Kenny is a fit and really sporty guy…He’s got a basketball team he runs with his brother, he sings and plays the guitar and keyboard for the church, and he’s part of the cycling club.”
Mr Din was in a group of three men who got into difficulty after being swept out to sea off Crantock Beach.
They were rescued from the water by two local surfers and then airlifted to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro by the Coastguard helicopter.
Mr Din was pronounced dead a short time later.
The other swimmers, aged 17 and 18, are in hospital but are not thought to be seriously injured.
Lopez added: “As a Filipino community, we’re very close – everybody knows everybody.
“That’s the flow of the community here and Kenny is one of those young men who was well-known and much-loved.”
A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said his next of kin have been informed, adding: “The death is not being treated as suspicious and police will be carrying out inquiries on behalf of the coroner.”
A fund-raising appeal has now been launched in a bid to help the family with funeral costs.
Tributes are being made for a “much loved” youth worker and church musician who died after being caught in a rip tide at a tourist hot-spot in Cornwall.