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Fran Crippen's sister says swimmer expressed safety concerns

Maddy Crippen, the sister of the former University of Virginia swimmer who died over the weekend competing in an open-water race, said her brother had voiced concerns about safety.

"My goal is to talk to everyone who was there and to hear exactly who was there and what safety measures were there," Maddy Crippen said of her brother in an appearance on "Good Morning, America."

Although the findings of an autopsy have not been released, preliminary reports indicate Fran Crippen, 26, died of a heart attack near the end of the 10-kilometer race off the shore of the United Arab Emirates. A high water temperature could also have contributed to his death, with several swimmers complaining of dehydration and disorientation.

"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.

An official for FINA, the international organization governing swimming, said Crippen likely died from overexertion. "We are sorry that the guy died, but what can you do?" UAE Swimming Association executive director Ayman Saad said in a statement. "This guy was tired and he pushed himself a lot."

Although local officials said that safety measures were in place, at least one swimmer said the water was too warm for competition. FINA rules specify a minimum, but not a maximum, temperature.

"The water was amazingly hot," Thomas Lurz of Germany said in a statement. "There were many swimmers who had serious problems in the water."

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By Cindy Boren  | October 25, 2010; 9:37 AM ET
 
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Comments

Why do swimmers, mountain climbers, snow ski people, and other non-descript people who think that the citizens owe them protection by an army of search teams, including vehicles and helicopters, and governments, to look out for them, pamper them, and actually be a servant to them. It is rediculous for taxpayers to have to fork out money for non essential and dangerous escapades that have no meaning, but are used to elevate the participants to a feeling of being a superstar. Sorry, but we have been used to often by such leeches on society, and now the sister is blaming his death on every one but him. Complete stupidity in my opinion.

Posted by: tom85 | October 25, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

So if the swimmers don't have sense enough to stop, it's up to the organizers to stop them? If you think it's too dangerous then don't do it!

Posted by: ronjaboy | October 25, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

tom85, you apprently do not compete in races. No one "leeches" off of anyone in these events. You pay an entry fee and part of that fee is to pay certain portions of the event. The event organizer, in order to get the permit/license from the organizing body has to demonstrate they have enough people to provide rescue/support. This is not like mountain climbing on your own. You are in a race. If you run into a problem it should be as simple as raising your hand and you get rescued. It is suppossed to be an organized event with known risks to all and the race organizers should have had enough people to see him go down or provide rescue. If the water is too warm, then the event should have been postponed. If you have never participated in these events, learn before speaking and btw when you ski out of bounds and they have to rescue you, you have to pay for it and it is very expensive. The guy was a world class athlete, why is he to blame. Or should we blame every couch potato who is morbidly obese and who had diabetes and argue that I am sick and tired of paying for the laziness......pls let the guy rest in peace.

Posted by: Trichica | October 25, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Wow, how about that cold-hearted official?

'An official for FINA, the international organization governing swimming, said Crippen likely died from overexertion. "We are sorry that the guy died, but what can you do?" UAE Swimming Association executive director Ayman Saad said in a statement. "This guy was tired and he pushed himself a lot."'

He refers to Mr. Crippen as 'the guy.' Come on dude - show some level of sympathy or professionalism.

Posted by: MethodistNon-Dancer | October 25, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

The competition should not have been held is such warm waters.There is too much strain on a persons cardiovascular system - and FINA should know this.Sorry we lost this young man.We should be more careful with everyone, including our athletes!

Posted by: 10bestfan | October 25, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

First, my condolences to the Crippens, I am very sorry for your loss and I hope you find strength in each other during these difficult times.

Second, I think everyone should get their facts straight before posting a rant; this was an event sponsored by the United Arab Emirates, so your taxes would not have gone to this anyway. All FINA sanctioned events require an entry fee to pay for insurance, facilities maintenance, and other administrative overhead; so taxes have nothing to do with what the Crippen’s are referring to. They were asking why the event didn’t have enough medical personnel on-hand for a competition of this size. This has nothing to do with a rogue swimmer getting caught out at sea; this was an event that should have had the appropriate number and class of personnel in attendance and, it appears, did not.

Posted by: DenaliAK | October 25, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

FINA needs to establish a maximum water temperature in which a competition can be called off.

Posted by: MethodistNon-Dancer | October 25, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

tom85 - sounds like you are bored between Tea Party rallies, so why don't you get up and go outside for a change, then maybe you will realize that these races do have meaning to those that want a challenge in life. Oh, and BTW these people are the healthy Americans that do NOT burden our health care system. Did you even read the article as the race was in UAE, so none of your tax dollars were spent - I promise. If you need to be rescued in the backcountry it comes with a huge bill, so do you research before you make yourself sound foolish!

Posted by: skins10 | October 25, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

tom 85, as already pointed out, this wasn't even in the US so no taxpayer $$ wasted. Second, this is an elite level competition, not a weekend warrior gone awry. Fran Crippen was a superstar in the world of swimming, having represented the US in Olympics and several other international competitions. Third, several swimmers who participated are questioning the conditions in which the event was held. Three swimmers had to be hospitalized after the event including 2 Americans. Water temp of at least 84 and air temp of at least 100. You try swimming any distance in a hot pool in the middle of a DC August and you'll be at the same setting except you'd have the benefit of pool walls when you got tired. It's difficult to move in those conditions, let alone compete.

For a 26 yo to have a heart attack is astonishing. For an elite level athlete of the same age to have a heart attack, that's nearly unheard of. If there were failings on the part of UAE for race organization, I hope FINA nails them. And the UAE's Swimming executive director should be fired for those comments. At least tom85 can probably plead ignorance to the world of swimming. What's Saad's excuse?

RIP Fran

Posted by: waterdemon | October 25, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I compete in long distance swims and triathlons and I’m telling you this, if you don’t feel comfortable at the start, follow your instincts and DON’T DO IT! There are always other races!!!!! Senseless death!

Posted by: SexyChocolateChip | October 25, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

SexyChocolateChip,

You are so right!

I thought that when I read the story - poor Fran, I thought, with those doubts you have, why did he not just walk away.

But you know, if I were Fran's age and in such a competition - I might have stayed too.

God Bless him.

Posted by: MethodistNon-Dancer | October 25, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

In response to this remark, "Why do swimmers, mountain climbers, snow ski people, and other non-descript people who think that the citizens owe them protection...," I ask as both a swimmer and skier why do fat people think society should pay for their hospital visits? The people taking these risks, while needing rescue once and while, are saving society a ton of money in comparison to all the fat people sitting around at computers writing about them.

Posted by: Ken55a | October 25, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Geez, her brother is not even cold yet and she's already making the rounds and obviously making a case for lawsuits. One would think she'd still be in shock and mourning.

Posted by: autmleaves | October 25, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

tom85 is a tool but so is skins10 for politicizing a legitimate concern. Does anyone know tom85's political affiliation? We certainly know Skins10 now. Crippin's sis has every right to look into this if for no other reason then to make these events safer and give her brothers death some meaning..

Posted by: senojbr | October 25, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

tom85 is a tool but so is skins10 for politicizing a legitimate concern. Does anyone know tom85's political affiliation? We certainly know Skins10 now. Crippin's sis has every right to look into this if for no other reason then to make these events safer and give her brothers death some meaning..

Posted by: senojbr | October 25, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Condolences to the family but he wasn't forced to swim. I'm not sure if he felt he had to but I'm sure he swam of his own free will.

Also, isn't the average temp. high and in the months prior in the 100s. The water would be warm.

Posted by: rlj1 | October 25, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Yea. We'll remember that tom85 after the ambulance comes and takes you to the hospital during your first heart attack because all you did in your life was sit on you fat ass and complained where your tax $$ went to.

Posted by: jash2 | October 25, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I can not believe there are no established upper temperature limits in open-water race competition. It seem ridiculous that you would have a lower limit and not an upper limit. A first year med student would recognize the symptoms of hypothermia. The progression from mild to moderate to severe dehydration is very rapid and would be nearly impossible to detect in the water.Do they think that because they're in the water they can not dehydrate as some of the symptoms can be confused with the strain of competition?

My guess is it will be less than 3 months before this is changed.

Posted by: Bcamp55 | October 25, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

tom85- you are angry at an athlete who challenges himself and makes goals? Really you must hail from the tea party cuz you just seem to want to find something, anything, to complain about and vent your anger on. What about the lazy, overweight Americans who are making diabetes a household name in America and burdening our healthcare system? You know the ones that stand around at your rallies shouting about a black president and not wanting to part with your money. When you do need help, though, and you will one day, you'll gladly accept the taxpayer funded programs that you're so deserving of.

Posted by: valerie14 | October 25, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Obviously athetes want to compete so for Fran to say no would have been the mark of a quitter. There should have been some official guidline limits for high temperature waters. When I was in the Marine Corp Reserves and training for desert warfare there was a temperature limit of 110 or 112 degrees, over which all training had to stop..It's common sense to have the same guidline for swimmers...the sponsoring organizations are culpable for this death...no doubt about it.

Posted by: gweiss5000 | October 25, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

I’d like to suggest that only people capable of expressing themselves through proper English, ie: being able to punctuate and spell correctly (rediculous, tom85 ???? Really???) be allowed to submit comments. If you write/think think above a third grade level, kindly keep your RIDICULOUS and ignorant opinions to yourself.

Posted by: donttalk | October 25, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

if you ask me, they should have a "swim at your own risk" rule.

Posted by: omgpegg | October 25, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

and also im neutral in this because both parties in my opinion are at faul :|

Posted by: omgpegg | October 25, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

fault*

Posted by: omgpegg | October 25, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse


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Posted by: aldojoe26 | October 26, 2010 6:33 AM | Report abuse

I am a former teammate of Maddy's and she is in fact mourning, as is her family. I am appauled by your nasty comment autmleaves, in case you've never lost someone, you always want answers as to why this tragedy occurred. It helps your cope and as Maddy stated in her interview on ABC, it will help them heel once they have answers. Fran was an olympic level athlete and died too young, so it is normal to ask questions. Additionally, with other competitors in the race saying they were taken to the hospital for heat exhaustion and fellow american teammate Christine Jennings even said she waved her hand to be rescued, but no one came is an obvious red flag for Maddy to ask questions. Her purpose is to improve the safety of open water swimming, the sport her brother loved dearly.

As for Tom85, you are a heartless person and you are very ignorant. Your precious tax dollars won't be touched and like many others in this conversation have pointed out the race took place in the UAE.

The swimming community lost a great competitor, friend and hero. The Crippen family lost their beloved son and brother, rest in peace Fran! You will forever be in our hearts!

Posted by: Swimmer4807 | October 26, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

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