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Crippen Family Lodge Legal Papers

Oct 17, 2012  - Craig Lord

Lawyers for the family of Fran Crippen, the American marathon swimming ace who died in a FINA World Cup race off the coast of the United Arab Emirates two years ago, have lodged legal papers designed to ensure that any potential claim against the international federation and USA Swimming does not fall foul of the statute of limitations.

A summons filed in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas last Monday by Peter and Patricia Crippen, ESPN reported, "individually and as Administrators of the Estate of Francis Crippen," states only that a personal injury case is being initiated.

The amount in question is more than US$50,000. There is no complaint nor claim at this stage, filings of this nature made to ensure the statute of limitations does not expire.

In an email to ESPN.com, an attorney representing the couple, Gerald McHugh of the Philadelphia law firm of Raynes McCarty, called the filing a "technical step".

"A summons was filed for the purpose of preserving the Crippen family's rights while they continue to review the recent rule changes enacted by FINA in the wake of Fran's death," McHugh wrote.

Fran Crippen died aged 26 almost two years ago to the day, on October 23, towards the end of a 10km race of the coast of Fujairah. Reports in the US and by a group commissioned by FINA pointed to extreme heat and a woeful and obvious lack of adequate safety measures at the event as contributory factors in the swimmer's death. 

Reforms have been made but coaches and swimmers continue to note that, in their opinion, FINA has got work to do to put open water swimming on a safe, professional footing, with standardisation of race conditions far from satisfactory.

The most controversial issue still facing FINA is its recommended maximum, 31C, for racing. Many consider this to be too high, the level well above that in which 50m sprinters are expected to compete in a pool.