Witnesses say he was a strong swimmer who went into the water one last time over the weekend to retrieve a child's shoe that floated away.
Divers with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office recovered the body Monday morning at Millerton Lake.
The body was recovered around 9 a.m. at the popular recreation area 20 miles northeast of Fresno.
Upset family members showed up at Millerton Lake the moment the gates opened Monday morning to watch divers comb the water for 27-year-old Phillip Johnson.
Park rangers say Johnson got in the water Sunday evening for one last swim before he left a barbecue with his girlfriend and her family.
"As they got into the water, one of the children's shoes came loose and started floating in the water. The gentleman started to swim towards that shoe, trying to retrieve that article and was struggling," Millerton Lake park ranger Mark Deleon said.
A short distance from shore, Johnson went under and never resurfaced.
Family members told park rangers the Fresno State student was a strong swimmer. Alcohol is not believed to be a factor in his death.
Monday afternoon, friends and former coworkers gathered at Boomers Family Entertainment Center. A
After just 15 minutes of searching the waters here this morning, Fresno County Sheriffs Dive Team members located the victim's body, not far from the area witnesses say, he went under water.
Although rescuers looked for the body Sunday night, they had many challenges, including murky water and dark conditions.