Richard Pound to Chair USA-Swimming Open Water Commission on Crippen Tragedy

USA Swimming has announced the five-person committee that will review the Fran Crippen situation specifically, and open water swimming in general, and produce recommendations for how to improve the safety of Open Water swimming and prevent further tragedies.

Richard Pound, who will lead the review, seems to be a perfect candidate. He has worked in basically every aspect of sports, and Sports Illustrated in 2002 called him the savviest and most candid person in sports, which sounds like exactly what this investigation needs. Pound is also the founding chairman of WADA, the organization that oversees most of the world’s major sports’ drug testing programs and policies.

Other members of the committee are Sid Cassidy, a former National Team coach, Harold Cliff, a former FINA technical committee member who has run many of the biggest swimming events in the world, Dr. Scott Rodeo, a medical consultant who was a team physician on both the 2004 and 2008 US Olympic Teams, and Erica Rose, a 10-time Open Water National Champion and 1998 5k World Champion.

I personally appreciate the makeup of this committee much more than the corresponding FINA one. The FINA committee, though well versed in the medical aspects of the event seems to lack significant experience in running these major competitions. I believe that this USA-Swimming committee will be better versed to prepare practical solutions that will be effective within the framework of elite competition. At any rate, I think that if the FINA and USA Swimming committees are able to combine their findings and research a much safer world of open water swimming will result.

The full USA-Swimming press release, unedited except for a single typographical correction where noted, is posted below.

Full Press Release

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Former IOC Vice President Richard Pound will chair the five-person Open Water Review Commission appointed by USA Swimming to review the findings of the independent investigation initiated by USA Swimming into the tragic death of Open Water athlete Fran Crippen on October 23 at a FINA race in the United Arab Emirates.

Along with reviewing the findings of the independent investigation, the Commission will solicit and consider other pertinent information from appropriate individuals and organizations and develop recommendations for the improvement of safety protocols, procedures, and precautions arising from the death of Crippen. These recommendations will be presented to USA Swimming as well as FINA, which sanctioned the UAE race.

The Commission will make its full report to USA Swimming by the end of March 2011.

“An athlete should never lose his or her life in a sport competition, but when such an incident occurs, it is the duty of the sport community to conduct a thorough and complete review of the situation and factors that may have caused or failed to prevent such a tragedy,” said Pound. “This Commission is committed to its charge, which is to provide complete and independent review of all the facts surrounding this tragedy, produce a transparent report and put forth recommendations on safety protocols and procedures so that this sort of incident does not happen again.”

The members of the Commission were selected by USA Swimming President Bruce Stratton in consultation with past presidents, USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus and U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun.

“We have assembled an outstanding group of qualified individuals who are all deeply committed to fulfilling the charge of the Commission,” said Stratton. “Their work will be thorough and, as such, will require time and patience. Our end goal is not speed, but to provide the most complete and accurate information possible and to drive strong and effective recommendations on Open Water safety going forward to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again.”

The members of the Commission are as follows.


An influential member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since 1978, Richard (Dick) Pound has had a lengthy and distinguished sports administration career. In 2002, Sports Illustrated called Pound “the savviest person in sport today…certainly the most candid.”

Over the course of his Olympic involvement, Pound has been involved in virtually every aspect of the Olympic Games. He is a long-time Executive Board member and vice president of the IOC, where he was responsible for all Olympic television negotiations, marketing and sponsorships. Pound is credited with transforming the IOC into a multi-billion dollar industry. He also has participated in numerous Olympic commissions as a chairman or member. Pound headed the inquiry into the corruption surrounding the bid for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. This investigation resulted in new regulations and an ethics watchdog to oversee interaction between IOC members and bidding cities.

In 1999, Pound became the founding chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency. In that role he oversaw an unprecedented toughening of the drug-testing regimen. He also worked to expand WADA beyond the Olympics, calling on the major sports leagues to agree to WADA scrutiny. Pound’s term as WADA president ended at the end of 2007. During his tenure he was named among TIME magazine’s “100 most influential people in the world.” In 2008, he was awarded the Laureus Spirit of Sport Award for his work at WADA.

Pound is a former president of the Canadian Olympic Committee (1977-1982), and also served as Secretary (1968-1977). Pound served as Director and Member of the Executive Committee for the Organizing Committee for the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary. He also served as a director of the successful Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation.

Also an accomplished athlete, Pound has won numerous accolades for his swimming achievements. He was a double Olympic finalist at the 1960 Summer Games in Rome, finishing sixth in the 100m freestyle and fourth as a member of the 4x100m medley relay. Pound won four medals (one gold, two silver, one bronze) at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia. In 2002, he was awarded the Gold Medallion Award by the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Born in St. Catharines, Ontario and now based in Montreal, Pound is a partner at Stikeman Elliott LLP, where he specializes in tax law. He served as Chancellor of McGill University from 1999-2009, and served as Governor from 1986-2009.

Pound was educated at McGill University and Sir George Williams University (now Concordia University). He holds honorary degrees from Laurentian University and the Universities of Western Ontario, Windsor, Quebec as well as Beijing Sport University, Lakehead University, Loughborough University and Concordia. In 2004, he was appointed a Chubb Fellow of Timothy Dwight College at Yale University.

Pound speaks fluent English and French, and is the author of six books on law and various Olympic Games-related subjects. He continues to enjoy many sports, including swimming, squash, tennis and golf. Pound is married, and has three children and two stepchildren.


–Sid Cassidy has served as a member of the FINA Technical Open Water Swimming Committee for nearly 20 years. Cassidy served as chair of the committee from 2006-2009, and as such, was chair during the inaugural Olympic open water event in 2008.  Cassidy also served as chair of the UANA Open Water Committee from 2002-06.

Cassidy spent five years serving as Head Open Water Coach for the U.S. National Team (1991-1996). He coached collegiately for 13 years at the University of Miami, James Madison University and Florida State University. He has been named Coach of the Year for the Big East, Eastern (correction from “Easter” in original press release) Athletic Association and Colonial Athletic Association.

Cassidy has received multiple awards for his contributions to the sport, including the USA Swimming Award, the organization’s highest honor recognizing exceptional contributions to the sport of swimming.

Cassidy has worked as the Aquatics Director and Head Coach for Saint Andrews School since 2005.  Cassidy is married with two children and resides in Boca Raton, Fla.


–Harold Cliff is an expert in project management, having overseen world class sports events with television audiences in the billions. A four-year member of the FINA Technical Swimming Committee, Cliff worked for Swimming Canada for 12 years, including seven as its Chief Executive Officer.

Following his tenure at Swimming Canada, Cliff spent five years working for the organizing committees in both Montreal and Melbourne, Australia for the FINA World Championships, where he directed operational aspects for all five aquatic disciplines. He was the General Manager of Sport at the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne, Australia and served as Vice President Competitions & Special Advisor for the event in Montreal in 2005.

He was also the Chief Operating Officer of the highly-successful 2008 Olympic Team Trials – Swimming in Omaha.

Cliff is the current President of the Omaha Sports Commission and as such, is responsible for the overall management of the organization including bidding for and organizing major sporting competitions. Cliff will serve as the CEO of the Olympic Team Trials – Swimming in 2012.

Cliff completed his undergraduate education at the University of Alberta and received his Masters in Sport Administration from the University of Ottawa.


Dr. Scott Rodeo is the Associate Team Physician for the New York Giants and is the Co-Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service at the Hospital for Special Surgery. He is Professor of Orthapaedic Surgery at Cornell University and is an Attending Surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery and the New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Rodeo served as a Team Physician for the United States Olympic Team in 2004 and 2008 and has worked as the Team Physician for the U.S. National Swim Team at four international competitions. Rodeo is also the Medical Advisor to the Asphalt Green Swim Team in New York City, NY.

Rodeo is highly decorated for his work in research and surgery, having won the Charles Neer Award from the American Shoulder and Elbow Society and the Excellence in Research Award from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.

Rodeo graduated cum laude from Stanford University, where he completed his undergraduate work while on an athletic scholarship. He completed medical school graduating with honors from Cornell University Medical College.


–Erica Rose has been a member of seven U.S. World Championship Teams and served as team captain four times. She is a 10-time Open Water National Champion and owns four Pan American gold medals. She was the world champion in the open water 5K in 1998.

The 28-year-old has competed in 16 FINA Open Water competitions over three years of the FINA World Cup / Grand Prix. In 2007, Rose finished third in the overall world rankings for the FINA Grand Prix Series.
Rose is a graduate of Northwestern University and currently works in Talent Management at the University of Michigan.

Leave a Reply

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

Read More »