November 19th, 2010
05:50 PM ET

Swimmer Fran Crippen to be posthumously inducted into hall of fame

Open-water swimmer Francis Crippen died during a marathon in October.

An open-water swimmer who died in a race last month is among 10 honorees to be inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame next year.

Francis Crippen, a top-ranked athlete in his sport and a 2012 Olympic hopeful, drowned 400 meters from the finish line of a 10-kilometer race in the United Arab Emirates on October 23.

"During his quick rise to the top echelon of professional marathon swimming, 26-year-old Fran Crippen also became the emotional and inspirational leader of the USA Swimming National Open Water Swimming Team and a dynamic personality on the professional marathon swimming circuit," the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame said.

"He was a personable ambassador of the sport. His love of the sport of marathon swimming was shared with fans, the media, his teammates and rivals."

Among the other honorees, who will be recognized in a ceremony in 2011, are Drury Gallagher, creator of the Manhattan Island Marathon swim; Anne Cleveland, the oldest person, at 48, to make a two-way crossing of the English Channel; and Australia's Rottnest Channel Swim Association.

Crippen is not the first person to be posthumously honored by the organization, board member Steve Munatones said. Founding father Benjamin Franklin, an avid swimmer, and Capt. Matthew Webb, the first person to cross the English Channel, have been inducted into the hall of fame, which started in 1968. He is believed to be one of the first recognized so soon after his death.

Crippen's death has sent shock waves through the swimming world, leading to calls for FINA, swimming's world governing body, to review safety protocol for open water competitions.

FINA will conduct an inquiry into Crippen's death, the cause of which has not been publicly announced, and USA Swimming has established its own five-person commission, led by former IOC Vice President Richard Pound.

The commission is expected to submit its report to USA Swimming in March. It will also share its recommendations with FINA, which sanctioned the UAE race.

“An athlete should never lose his or her life in a sport competition, but when such an incident occurs, it is the duty of the sport community to conduct a thorough and complete review of the situation and factors that may have caused or failed to prevent such a tragedy,” Pound said in a press release.

“This commission is committed to its charge, which is to provide complete and independent review of all the facts surrounding this tragedy, produce a transparent report and put forth recommendations on safety protocols and procedures so that this sort of incident does not happen again.”

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soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. Bernat

    Why do they give all these awards to people when theyre gone?
    Wouldn't it be better to award people while they're still alive so they can celebrate it and feel significant.
    I think it's completely dumb wait till people die to realize.. "oh, he was good. I KNOW! let's give him an award!"
    ridiculous. but then again.. that's just MY opinion.

    November 19, 2010 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Bernat– You are short on facts. Fran Crippen was to be inducted into the GA Hall of fame PRIOR to his death. He was to have recieved that honor while he was alive. His untimely death was the cause of the induction occuring posthumously.

      November 19, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. J.B.

    Fran Crippen was not only a great swimmer but an inspiration to young swimmers. He coached kids for the Mission Viejo Nadadores. Being a swim coach, I am appalled at what people are saying here. He died competing and his accomplishments should be recognized. He was well on his way into making it into the Swimming Hall of Fame, his journey was just cut short by this tragic event. The swimming community has been dealt a tragic loss, he was a great swimmer an a mentor to many.

    November 19, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Semper Fi

      JB All who knew Fran know the truth. Haters will always be ignorant. As a Master swimmer who was helped and inspired by Fran I know that Fran was the GOLD STANDARD for being human.

      November 19, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Semper Fi

    Fran was one of my daughters swim coaches at the MV Nadadores and one of the best human beings I have ever had the privilege of knowing. He was not only a champion in the swimming world he was a champion in life.

    November 19, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  4. F Daniel Gray

    I wish the article writers would quote some reliable physiologist about the water being "warm." Except for a hot spring all water will be cooler than normal body temperature, i.e,, 98.6 f. If one stays in "warm" water long enough without stimulants, etc., one could be in danger of hypothermia, i.e., below normal body temp. Marathon type athletes are used to pushing their bodies to near exhaustion. The last time Alberto Salazer ran and won the N.Y. he had to be taken to the medical tent, for he had a body temp of about 106. Most persons would likely have had a seizure or possibly cardiac arrest. It is certainly doubtful Crippen died 400 yards from the finish because the water was too "warm."

    November 19, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Adam M

    He also happened to be the most favored to win the first medal for the US in an open water event in the Olympics. He was one of the best pool swimmers in the nation and then effortlessly made the transition to open water and started taking names. Its so sad to see him go just as he was about to hit his peak, he had so much more potential. His death has had a HUGE impact on the swimming world from all the people he has inspired, as well as all the people his family has inspired, he has three sisters who are also elite level swimmers, one Olympian, one national team member, one NCAA All American and just as outgoing as he was.

    November 19, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. theLogical1

    It seems that if he died by drowning, then the United Arab Emirates sports council and officials at the event with the boats monitoring the swimmers, are to blame.

    November 19, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ian

    It's really scary that such a good swimmer can die this way – it certainly doesn't encourage a poor swimmer like me to take up open water swimming! What a tragedy.

    November 19, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
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