Fran Crippen, 26, died today during a World Cup marathon race in the United Arab Emirates. While competing in an open water event for the United States, Crippen fell unconscious during the final leg of a 10-kilometer race. Crippen was found by deep sea divers almost two hours after all the other swimmers finished the event. The water temperature was reportedly in the mid to upper 80s. After the event, several swimmers were treated for heat exhaustion at a local hospital.
Julio Maglione, president of FINA was informed of the tragedy while at Olympic meetings in Mexico.
“All was under strict rules that exist in our competition. All was absolutely correct,” he said. “It was an accident, a terrible accident.”
Maglione continued to say that this was the first death of any kind in a FINA event, though that is unconfirmed, and that an investigation was already underway into the tragedy.
Crippen comes from one of the United States’ most famous swimming family, and his oldest sister, Maddy, was the first to make public comment on his death.
“He was our hero,” she said. “We loved him very much, and we’ll all miss him.”
This is a sentiment that was echoed across the swimming community Saturday. Crippen was widely held as one of the leaders of Open Water swimming, and one of the good men in the sport. His death will leave a hole in the swimming community, and he will be missed.
Crippen was an 11-time all-American at the University of Virginia and was twice named Atlantic Coast Conference swimmer of the year. Crippen finished fourth in the 10k and fifth in the 5k at this year’s world championships and won six U.S. national titles over the course of his career.
More details will be added as they become available.
Erin Kasperek contributed to this report.