Swimmer Fran Crippen's death may be linked to water temperature
Fran Crippen, the former University of Virginia swimmer, died of "overexertion," United Arab Emirates swimming officials said in Dubai.
Crippen, 26, died Saturday while competing for the United States in the FINA Open Water 10-kilometer World Cup race in the UAE.
"We are sorry that the guy died but what can we do. This guy was tired and he pushed himself a lot," Ayman Saad, executive director of the UAE swimming association, said. "He went down 400 meters before the finish line" in Fujairah.
Nearly two hours after every other swimmer had finished the event, divers found Crippen just before the final buoy. The water temperature was reported to have been in the mid- to high-80s, and several swimmers were treated for heat exhaustion. Saad downplayed the significance of the water temperature, saying that FINA has only minimum temperature requirements, not maximum limits.
Richard Shoulberg, Crippen's former coach, said Crippen had told him that the water temperature was 87 degrees and swimmers complained of warmer than usual conditions Saturday.
UAE Swimming Federation Secretary Saeed Al Hamour told CNN, however, that doctors had determined that severe fatigue was behind Crippen's death.
"The competition was monitored and supervised by the International Swimming Federation. All security measures were taken care of as needed," Al Hamour said. "We've organized so far 14 competitions and championships and never had any death."
Fujairah police have opened an inquiry into Crippen's death.
A native of Conshohocken, Pa., Crippen was an 11-time all-American at Virginia and was named Atlantic Coast Conference swimmer of the year in 2003 and 2004. He finished third in the 10-kilometer swim at the 2009 World Championships in Rome. Crippen was named in September the Male Open Water Swimmer of the Year by USA Swimming. He won six U.S. national titles in his career.
One of Crippen's sisters, Claire, is a senior swimmer at Virginia. Another, Teresa, swims at Florida. Maddy, his oldest sister, was an NCAA champion swimmer at Villanova and was a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team.
"He was our hero," said Maddy Crippen, reached at her parents' home in Conshohocken. "We loved him very much, and we'll all miss him."
USOC statement on Crippen's death
| October 24, 2010; 11:32 AM ET
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