USA swimming to probe Crippen`s death

Last Updated: Oct 26, 2010, 11:17 AM IST

Colorado Springs: USA Swimming said Monday it would open its own probe of the death of American open-water swimmer Fran Crippen at a World Cup event in the United Arab Emirates.

"USA Swimming?s investigation will examine exactly what happened to Crippen, why it happened and what can be learned to keep such an incident from happening again," the American federation said in a statement.

The probe will be independent of the investigation promised by world governing body FINA.

Crippen, 26, died Saturday during a 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup in Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates.

He failed to complete the race and was found in the water two hours later not far from the finish. He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

On Sunday, Al-Ittihad daily quoted Ibrahim Mohammed, manager of the Fujairah International Marine Club that hosted the event, as saying Crippen`s death "was the result of a heart attack."

Christine Jennings, a US competitor who also competed at the UAE World Cup, told the Washington Post in an article posted on the newspaper`s website on Monday that she believed the unusually warm water and inadequate safety measures may have been a contributing factor.

Jennings told the newspaper she vomited several times in the water, became dizzy and veered off course.

She turned over to float on her back and tried to signal a safety boat, but never received any help.

She eventually struggled to the finish and was later treated for heat exhaustion.

"It was a disaster," she said. "I`m floating on my back for several minutes, thinking `Why isn`t anybody checking on me?`"

Jennings told a newspaper that she had not been contacted by FINA officials, but would contact them if necessary.

"FINA needs to understand what happened and not brush this off as some freak incident, which it wasn`t," Jennings said.

Crippen, bronze medallist in both the 10km event at the Rome worlds in 2009 and the FINA world open water championships in Canada this year, had ambitions to become the first American to medal in open water swimming at the 2012 London Olympics.

"What happened in Fujairah on Saturday is an absolute tragedy, and a thorough investigation must be conducted to provide clear answers to the Crippen family and swimming community, as well as to identify and establish clear guidelines by which all international competitions should be conducted," said Chuck Wielgus, executive director of USA Swimming.

Bureau Report

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