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.
‚ÄúAn 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,‚ÄĚ Pound said in a press release.
‚ÄúThis 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.‚ÄĚ