Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fran Crippen's death smells like an accidental homicide! - UAE Fujairah Police Department thinks so too!

When the finger pointing begins and the national governing bodies; (read that as plural such as the United States Olympic Committee and USA Swimming), send out press releases with words like sorrow and condolences rather than harsh demands for an explanation, it means every NGB is afraid of being sued rather than taking responsibility.

Here is the USOC statement and it is severely weak. No mention what investigative steps they will take but rather they simply explain that they are going to wait for others to do the work for them:
“The USOC was extremely saddened to learn today of the death of US swimmer Fran Crippen. We send our condolences and deepest sympathies to the Crippen family as well as to our entire swimming community. While details of this tragedy are still forthcoming, we shall keep this outstanding young athlete and his family in our thoughts and prayers."


Seriously, I don't want to hear about sorrow and condolences, I want to hear about the outrage and calls for a postmortem audit of that race? USA Swimming just lost a national team member. His team, the Mission Viejo Natadores, just lost a friend and an inspiration, his family, a son and a brother.

Fran Crippen wasn't some "wahoo" like I was 6-years ago trying to do an Alcatraz crossing for the first time fully unprepared - he was an elite athlete who could swim better than 99.9% of the planet yet he died with no support craft near him in water that was well beyond the safety benchmark to swim in.

The finger pointing begins. FINA is pointing fingers at Fran Crippen and his coach:
“What we know initially is that he exerted himself more than he could, that's what we know,'' said FINA President Julio Maglione of Uruguay, attending an International Olympic Committee conference in Acapulco, Mexico. Maglione said he was told that after eight kilometers Crippen informed his coach that he wasn't feeling well.

The United Arab Emirates Swimming Federation Secretary blames FINA:
“The competition was monitored and supervised by the International Swimming Federation. All security measures were taken care of as needed… We’ve organized so far 14 competitions and championships and never had any death,” said Al Hamour.

Thosmas Lurz, the event winner blames all the governing bodies for allowing swimmers to compete in dangerous conditions and with little support:

Thomas Lurz of Germany criticized both swimming's governing body and race organizers Sunday, saying conditions were too hot for racing, that FINA's schedule was too grueling and that organizers should have done more to ensure swimmers' safety in the Open Water 10-kilometer World Cup held at Fujairah, east of Dubai, on Saturday.


The only organization that feels enough outrage to aggressively look into this horrible tragedy is the UAE Fujairah Police Department who have opened an inquiry into Crippen's death. These people get it! This could be acknowledged an accidental homicide.
So far there is a preponderance of evidence pointing to the FINA rule violation and the lack of support craft - I suspect a committee allowed this race to occur from the top down. Let's see what will happen?


TedBaker said...

Saw an article in a local paper where the UAE Police Department is saying the cause of death was "over exertion".

I agree with your post here, Tony: This young man's death is cause for some investigation into water temps and the like.

Do you know if he was wearing a wetsuit?

Kerry said...

This is so heartbreaking. And feels so preventable. Mid to high 80s water with 100 degree air temp? A little common sense here, that's basically a guarantee for hospitalizations. (And UAE would seem to be equally a guarantee for those conditions, which speaks to the absurdity of holding the event there in the first place.) Between this and the LA Tri, I'm starting to think that open water swimming needs a giant overhaul that starts with safety.

danthefiddleman said...

Interesting to note that FINA has canceled the final event, a race scheduled for the same venue on October 27th. According to a press release, FINA says it canceled the race "in respect for [Fran Crippen's] memory." I'd guess though that the cancellation had more to do with averting further unnecessary tragedy.

I'd also guess that one of the reasons FINA doesn't regulate the upper limits of water temperature is that any reasonable limit would immediately disqualify a number of wealthy and influential nations. Like, for instance, the United Arab Emirates.

And as the butt-covering proceeds apace, let me just say that, if overexertion were fatal, we'd all be dead.

Tony Austin said...

brilliant analysis!