FINA has announced in a press release the task force that will investigate the tragic death of American Open Water Swimmer Fran Crippen last month.
Committee members will be:
• Mr. Gunnar Werner
Lawyer, Senior Vice President of the Court of Arbitration for Sport & FINA Honorary Member
• Dr. Harold Vervaecke, PhD (BEL)
Secretary General of the International Life Saving Federation (ILS)
Doctor in Sports and Physical Education
• Dr. Antonio Pelliccia, MD (ITA)
Scientific Director of the Institute of Sports Medicine of CONI and World Authority on Cardiovascular Disease and Sports Medicine (specialised in sudden death)
• Mr. Greg Towle (AUS) – subject to confirmation
Leading open water coach from Australia. He has extensive experience coaching open water swimmers under many different conditions.
• Dr. Tobie Smith, MD (USA)
Doctor of family medicine practising in NYC. Champion in the 25km at the 8th FINA World Championships Perth 1998. Advocate for Open Water Swimming and safety for its athletes.
This seems to be one member short of what FINA’s original announcement, which indicated that there would be 5 panel members in addition to Werner. It appears, however, that in the final panel, Werner doubles as the chairman and the “legal expert”.
This seems to be a very good mixture of expertise, specifically with regard to their knowledge both of swimming in incorporation with their areas of expertise. I would have liked to see possibly one more board member focused on open water safety, as this is at least as important of an aspect as the purely medical, but as is, I think it is a group that at the very least can make independent, reasonable, and well-informed decisions on how to proceed with improving the safety of the sport.