Fran Crippen, the 26-year-old American open water swimmer, lost his life today during a FINA World Cup event.
Crippen died after losing consciousness during a World Cup 10K race in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. When Crippen did not finish the race, his competitors went back in the water to assist with the search, according to sources in the UAE. A European reporter told SwimNews that the water temperature was 30C.
A FINA inquiry is underway, while postmortem investigations continue.
The swimming world has responded with tributes to Crippen on a Facebook page and sent messages of condolence on Twitter. Blogs are rife with calls for an investigation into why races are allowed to take place in unsuitable conditions. It is far too early to say what cause Crippen's death but any swimmer will tell you that racing a world-class 400m in 30C is very tough. If a world-class 10km race was held in such temperatures, a decade after FINA agreed a suitable race water range of 26-28C and placed that in its rule book for pool swimming (rule FR2.11), then open water conditions on the day and for the longer term will surely form part of the inquiry underway into what is now an Olympic sport.
The greater focus at this time is on the condolences and sympathy being extended to the Crippen family by so many across the world of aquatic sports today.
Chloe Sutton, USA team member, tweeted: "Omg. My long time teammate on the Nadadores and team USA, Fran Crippen, passed away today while racing in Dubai. He was an amazing guy and one of the best ambassadors for the sport and I already miss him."
Statements from USA Swimming and FINA read as follows:
USA Swimming, its employees, members, National Team athletes and coaches are deeply saddened today by the death of Fran Crippen. Fran was a champion swimmer but more importantly, a tremendous person, and he will be remembered for so many extraordinary qualities. We send our sincere condolences and deepest sympathies to the Crippen family, a family that is a treasured member of the USA Swimming family. We will continue to work with FINA, the meet host and others to determine how this tragedy occurred.
FINA, Lausanne - With immense sadness, FINA mourns the loss of open water swimmer Fran Crippen (USA), during the last leg of the FINA 10km Marathon Swimming World Cup, held in Fujairah (UAE), on October 23, 2010.
Crippen, 26 years old, had been in evidence at the latest two editions of the FINA World Championships. In 2009, in Rome (ITA), he had been bronze medallist in the 10km event, while in 2010, at the FINA World Open Water Championships in Roberval (CAN), he was also third, this time in the 5km.
While the causes of this death remain under investigation, FINA and the entire aquatic community address, in this moment of grief, their deepest and sincere condolences to his Family, Friends and to US Aquatic Sports and USA Swimming family.