Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fran Crippen died in water that was in the middle-to-high 80's - FINA Has no maximum temp cut-off for an open water races but they do for pools!

Lack of rule oversight dooms Fran Crippen and sickens many others. FINA alludes to coach error even though water temps were demonstrably dangerous and severely exceeded the maximum water temperature limits for pool races.

Imagine swimming a 1500-meter, balls out race, in 88-degree water? Would you get sick? I would. Now imagine swimming a 10-kilometer race in 88-degree ocean water or higher? Note this temp would feel 7-degrees warmer than a pool due to the salt content.

Fina has temperature rules for racing pools. These temps are designated to be between 77-to-82 degrees. FINA would never let a swimmer swim a race in a pool in 82.1 or higher but the athletes who swam in the FINA Open Water 10-kilometer World Cup in Fujairah, near Dubai, swam in water well beyond that limit. Subsequently, due to the salt content, the water must have felt like a hot tub somewhere in or around the 90-degree mark.

Background on the Fran Crippen tragedy from Associated Press:

"... The magazine said the water temperature was in the mid- to high-80s, and several swimmers were treated for heat exhaustion after the race.

Swimmers were the first to respond when Crippen failed to arrive at the finish. Several returned to the water to search for him and were soon followed by a dive team. Crippen’s body was found just before the last buoy on the 2-kilometer triangular course, race organizers said. ..."


The FINA rule book on open water races states the following regarding water temps. Note that nothing is said about maximum temperatures:

"... OWS 5.5 The water temperature should be a minimum of 16°C. It should be checked the day of the race, 2 hours before the start, in the middle of the course at a depth of 40 cm. This control should be done in the presence of a Commission made up of the following persons present: a Referee, a member of the Organising Committee and one coach from the teams present designated during the Technical Meeting ..."

It was mentioned in the article that a FINA Exec stated that Fran Crippen told a coach at the 8K mark that he was not feeling well. Obviously this is a standard issue "blame the pilot for the plane crash despite the treacherous condition the air traffic controllers sent the pilot into."

We saw USA Swimming do this with the sex abuse scandals whereas they blamed both the parents and the victims thereby denying any responsibility and now we are seeing FINA doing the same: "Blame the coach and run..."

Let it be known: Fran Crippen's coach is completely immune from any and all culpability due to the fact that FINA officials certified the course as being safe despite that the water temperature taken two hours before the race denoted that the water temp exceeded the pool temperature rule by roughly 6-8-degrees Fahrenheit. Add the water salinization and it would translate to perhaps 10-degrees.

This is just the beginning; I am hearing rumors of too few lifeguards and rescue craft as well.


Rókur said...

What shocks me the most, is not that he died, but that he went missing. People might have been able to save him, if they saw that it came to that.

Anonymous said...

How is it possible he could go under so close to the finish -- or, really, anywhere on the course -- and apparently no lifeguards or anybody noticed? That it was the finishing swimmers who noticed he was not there and returned to the water? Doesn't sound like a well run race at all.

Bill Ireland said...

I checked on something--there were 25 finishers. The last 4 or so were significantly slower than the pack so its possible that Crippen's falling off pace was not as obvious as it seemed. But it should still be pretty easy to keep track of that number of swimmers--it not like Waikiki where there are 1000 swimmers to watch. Here, all the race organizers have to do is watch 25 swimmers. Swimmers in trouble start by struggling--they don't instantly sink.

I feel sorry for his coach--I agree that its not his responsibility but he is going to second guess Crippen's comment that he didn't feel well at 8K--and his not trying to stop him. Understandable but something he is going to regret.

Anonymous said...

Reports saying that he had a heart attack..

Braden Keith said...

As I've commented in my blog, these races are part of the foolish notion by various International Governing Bodies that everywhere in the world has the right to host every major sporting event in the world. That's dead wrong. There are some places that are better than others for certain events, and that's just the way it is. You wouldn't host a World Cup in Houston in July, and you wouldn't host a Summer Olympics in Finland in October. Why would you host these races at this time of year in the UAE?

Tony Austin said...

I am coming around to your way of thinking.