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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."

MORE

USOC statement on Crippen's death

By Cindy Boren  | October 24, 2010; 11:32 AM ET
 
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Comments


There were comments here early this morning. What happened? Didn't you like the comments so you redacted them?


Posted by: mortified469 | October 24, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse


Sad news.

What would you have said to make him stop with just 440 yards to go in a 6.2 mile race?

Posted by: blasmaic | October 24, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

So sad, I know that these young ladies will miss their brother. Best wishes to their family.

Posted by: ddraper81 | October 24, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Sad story. Have to ask a question, though. Don't the swimmers know the limits? Why swim if conditions aren't safe?

Posted by: scorekeepn | October 24, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Did you all know that the water around Dubai is some of the most polluted in the world?? They built this city in the middle of the desert, now home to the largest building in the world and an indoor ski rink in around a decade... the people who built it live outside the city in slums, and there is literally no no pollution regulation of any kind outside the city - the waters around Dubai are insanely dangerous and filled with unimaginable levels of toxic chemicals!

To me it is more amazing that more swimmers haven't died in this race. I mean seriously... industrial chemicals, paint, etc all had to go somewhere. And having studied marine biology for many years, I can tell you - oceans don't lie.

Not that it's likely the autopsy will reveal anything because it's Dubai. It would be horrible press if he had been exposed to the insane level of toxins that caused his death! Tourism might drop, Allah forbid!

Posted by: jericho67 | October 24, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

optimal water temperature for maximum swim output is found to be around 82F to 86F (see http://jap.physiology.org/cgi/pdf_extract/36/4/465). please refrain from speculative headline until real cause of death is ascertained.

Posted by: m_brane11 | October 24, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

"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

In other words: "It's not our fault, the swimmer brought it on himself."

Disgraceful comment from Saad. Not at all appropriate. The right thing to say would have been along the lines of: "This is a terrible tragedy. Our hearts go out to the family. We're going to look into all the factors that went into this race and work with international bodies to make sure nothing like this happens again, here or anywhere else."

Posted by: blaneyboy | October 24, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

First of all, very bad tragedy, prayers to the family, sisters.

@ jericho67 - no time to take a jab at religion. I am sure you are correct about the toxins. It is amazing how people will bath mouth a region but so many expats there making a $, Durham or Euro.

Again very sad day for family! Prayers for the family, from all Gods, gods.

Posted by: hunter321 | October 24, 2010 11:45 PM | Report abuse

@ jericho67: So tired of having nitwits like you use EVERY possible news article to spew their wacky views in the world.

Listen buddy, when it comes to "polluted" waters, perhaps an American should not be getting so cocky. Last time I checked the GULF OF MEXICO is not the most pristine of seas, considering is home to the largest oil spill in US history and one of the largest in the world. Two days ago precisely the US Coast Guard had to examine discolored water in Lousiana which turned out to be an algae bloom. Algae blooms ONLY happen when levels of oxygen in the water are so low as to allow algae to bloom.

So please, just be quite before you embarras yourself.

Posted by: Mighty7 | October 25, 2010 3:38 AM | Report abuse

It’s a tragedy that Fran Crippen passed away! Honor his memory by contributing to his memorial site http://francrippen.people2remember.com/

Posted by: estael_oscora | October 25, 2010 5:28 AM | Report abuse

It seems like it took a long time to first, realize he was in trouble and second, find him. They discovered the problem only when he didn't finish and then it took two hours to get to him. Seems like the race officials should keep a closer eye on these swimmers, especially under difficult conditions.

Posted by: calgrl75 | October 25, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

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