FINA Admits to Lack of Safety Measures in Fran Crippen’s Death; Releases Set of Recommendations

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, April 15. SHORTLY after coming under heavy fire from U.S. Open Water Review Commission Chair Dick Pound for a lack of cooperation, the FINA Task Force appointed to investigate Fran Crippen's death on Oct. 23, 2010 has come forward with its findings.

First, FINA's Task Force hedged its bets regarding Crippen's actual cause of death by alluding to a "potential (although not proven) existence of cardiac abnormality and the possible occurrence of uncontrolled exercise-induced asthma in unfavorable race environmental conditions."

The Task Force did, however, state that "many safety measures were not adequately addressed at the Fujairah event." The Task Force went more in-depth later in its report stating that "safety measures were not addressed or properly implemented at the Fujairah Event by the Organizing Committee and the FINA representative." The Task Force did attempt to leave some room for interpretation stating that "overriding all these factors are the Open Water Swimming safety Rules and Regulations that in some instances are too vague, leaving room for interpretation."

The Task Force further stated that "inadequate surveillance and safety measures made it difficult, and at times impossible, to recognize and act upon an athlete in distress."

The Task Force also produced several pages of recommendations moving forward that include medical clearance of athletes, transponders and GPS technology as well as a allowed temperature range of 18 degrees Celsius (64.4 degrees Fahreinheit) to 28 degrees Celsius (82.4 degrees Fahreinheit). The Task Force recommendation on a maximum temperature is actually lower than 31 degrees Celsius (87.8 degrees Fahreinheit) suggested by the U.S. Commission.

Swimming World contacted Richard Shoulberg, longtime coach to Fran Crippen, today about the report. "I'm ecstatic that they're making progress and not waiting for Shanghai (the site of the world championships, where the FINA Congress planned to meet next on this issue). A lot of great things are happening now, however overdue. But that's how the world works. It will never bring back Fran, but our goal was to make the sport safe. I'm happy they are making progress."

In relation to the report's recommendations on the water temperature limits, Shoulberg said, "This new recommendation puts into question whether Shanghai will be able to meet those standards." Shoulberg alluded to the possibility that the site of the open water races at the world championships "might be a hot environment," especially compared to London, which will be much colder in relation to Shanghai.

Shoulberg went on to suggest that the world championships needs to mirror the same conditions as the site of the following year's Olympic 10K race.

"I'm hoping the (USA Swimming) open water commission will reconsider its maximum open water temperature to come more in line with FINA's," he said.

For a complete run-down on the eight-part Task Force report, click here.

Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x