FINA Cannot Escape Its Responsibility For The Death of Fran Crippen

PHOENIX, Arizona, April 14. SWIMMING World CEO Brent Rutemiller takes FINA to task for its lack of cooperation in the Fran Crippen investigation in next month's Voice for the Sport in the May edition of Swimming World Magazine.

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Voice for the Sport
USA Swimming's Open Water Commission recently issued its report into the circumstances of open water swimmer Fran Crippen's death along with its recommendations for new safety standards—without any cooperation from FINA.

During a 40-minute press conference with the media, April 13, Dick Pound, the commission's chair, repeatedly expressed his frustration and disappointment regarding FINA's lack of cooperation with the commission.

"We wanted to get the report from the FINA official on the spot and the meet director on the spot. It has simply been refused to us. Oddly enough, they've asked us for information, and we were happy to give it to them. It is very disappointing and inexplicable," Pound said.

Bruce Stratton, USA Swimming's president, also expressed frustration with FINA acknowledging that USA Swimming, on behalf of the commission, requested information from FINA and the event directors about Crippen's death on numerous occasions.

"I don't know how to describe it other than extremely disappointed that we cannot get a response to these questions, even though we have asked them at several different levels," Stratton said.

It was widely reported prior to the commission's report that FINA delayed releasing its official report due to "revisions."

Give credit to USA Swimming for moving forward while being stonewalled by FINA. Shame on FINA for its continued lack of courageous leadership, public transparency, as well as its insatiable need for control of all outcomes related to aquatics in-and-out of the water.

The commission was tasked with the mission of reviewing the circumstances surrounding the death of Fran Crippen at a FINA race in the UAE on Oct. 23, 2010 in order to make recommendations for the improvement of safety protocols, procedures and precautions for future domestic and international open water competitions.

"Because FINA declined to provide information as to the circumstances on the day of the race until after it has issued its report, the commission was not able to complete a review of the circumstances surrounding Fran Crippen's death. Requests for information have been made of FINA by the investigators engaged by USA Swimming, by USA Swimming staff and by the commission. To date, no information has been provided by FINA," the commission report stated.

The commission evidently could not wait any longer for FINA to act and, therefore, decided "that the importance of improvements in safety protocols, procedures and precautions in a discipline such as open water swimming, with its particular risks, is such that proposals for the improvements must be considered whatever the circumstances of Fran Crippen's death may have been."

Although no official entity to date wants to go on record until FINA releases its official report, the commission said it was "fairly clear that Fran Crippen lost consciousness as a result of heat exhaustion" and that "it goes almost without saying that there must be immediate recognition when a swimmer is struggling or loses consciousness; there must be immediate rescue when loss of consciousness occurs; and there must be immediate resuscitation to address medical emergencies."

The commission ended its report with a series of common-sense recommendations that FINA must not ignore.

Meanwhile, FINA cannot escape the daunting fact that its organization was ultimately responsible for the death of Fran Crippen, and all the delays and revisions cannot change that fact. FINA needs to bow before the world, realize that it, as an organization, is not perfect, take the blow and vow to be better.

USA Swimming's Open Water Commission demonstrated leadership. Now it is FINA's turn.

Meanwhile, Jason Marsteller and John Lohn recap the women's and men's NCAA Division I Championships in the May issue, while Marsteller and Judy Jacob tag-teamed an article on the NCAA Division II, Division III, NAIA and NJCAA championships – including the stunning end of Kenyon's 31-year run at the top of the men's Division III meet. Additionally, Emily Sampl previews the 2011 women's NCAA water polo championships to be held in May.

In SWIM, Sampl features Erika Braun of the Raleigh Area Masters, while J.R. Rosania returns with dryside tips for backstroke as part of his IM Stroke Series.

Michael J. Stott chats with Triangle Area's Chad Onken in Swimming Technique, while the two look at how Joe Bonk trains. Stott also writes about how to transition from being a whiner to a winner.

In Junior Swimmer, Jacob profiles Peak's Curtis Ogren as a National Age Group Record Setter, while also canvassing the country in American Relay. Monacacy's Sean O'Connell is named the TYR Age Group Swimmer of the Month as well, while Marsteller returns with a look at Rachel Bootsma's dominance of the NCSA Junior Nationals.

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