US swimmer Fran Crippen's death mid-race sparks safety review
Fran Crippen, a 26-year-old Olympic hopeful from a family of prominent swimmers in Philadelphia, died near the end of a World Cup event in the UAE this weekend.
The death of US Olympic swimming hopeful Fran Crippen while competing in the United Arab Emirates this weekend has kicked off a flurry of criticism. While concerns have focused on how the event was managed, Crippen's death also highlights the extraordinary demands elite athletes face today as they strive to best decades of modern records – ostensibly coming closer to the ultimate limits of the human body.Skip to next paragraph
2011 Reflections: Suddenly, a new era in the Middle East
2011 Reflections: the end of a landmark year for Latin America
2011 Reflections: Africa rises, taking charge of its affairs
How the 'Year of the Protester' played out in Europe
In Prague, a tale of communism past
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Crippen, the 2009 bronze medalist in 10 km open-water swimming, died near the end of a World Cup of the same distance in Fajuirah, east of Dubai. According to international rules, he was required to finish the event – held in unusually warm water – in order to collect prize money awarded for the overall circuit.
Early reports said his teammate – not lifeguards or race staff – was the first to realize he was missing. Deep-sea divers found his body two hours later.
Crippen's sister says he wrote letters about safety concerns
The event – the last in a series of marathon World Cups – was overseen by the international swimming federation, FINA. The federation has promised an inquiry. But it said that the event, which was hosted by the UAE's swimming federation, appeared to be in accord with safety standards.
“What we know initially is that he exerted himself more than he could, that’s what we know,” said FINA President Julio Maglione of Uruguay, attending an International Olympic Committee conference in Acapulco, Mexico. “The medical report said it was huge overexertion, that’s what they told me."
But the winner of the race and Crippen's sister, Maddy, raised concerns about a lack of safety measures and poor management of the race.
"My goal is to talk to everyone who was there and to hear exactly who was there and what safety measures were there," said Ms. Crippen on "Good Morning America."
"But the one thing that I do know is that in the months leading up to this event my brother had written letters to different organizing committees about safety, the number of people that were there, the doctors that should be there, the support staff and the lack thereof," she said.
USA Swimming planning to lead major review
One major concern was how hot the water was. FINA sets the maximum temperature for pool races at 25- 28 degrees Celsius (77-82 degrees Fahrenheit). There is no maximum limit in open-water races such as Saturday's, but swimmers estimated the temperature was significantly outside of the range deemed acceptable in a pool.