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USA Goes For Independent Crippen Inquiry

Oct 25, 2010  - Craig Lord

In a reaction that will send waves of relief across a world of open water that has a catalogue of complaints to make public, USA Swimming is to commission an independent inquiry into the death of Fran Crippen. 

The USA Swimming statement in full:

USA Swimming will commission a full, independent investigation into the tragic death of open water swimmer Fran Crippen at Saturday’s FINA World Cup event in Fujairah, UAE, the organization announced Monday.

The investigation will be conducted independently of the FINA investigation. FINA is the international governing body for swimming that sanctioned Saturday’s race.

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.

"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. "With the insight gained from this investigation, USA Swimming plans to call on FINA and its member nations to thoroughly review and improve open water safety protocols, procedures and precautions."

The details and specifics of this investigation, including its timetable for completion are currently being worked out and will be forthcoming.

End of statement

The swimming world now awaits such leadership from FINA, which is certain to come under pressure to commission an independent inquiry of its own, particularly in light of the catalogue of complaints starting to emerge from the open water community worldwide.

Swimmers and coaches have written to SwimNews to declare themselves appalled by the comments of UAE swim federation boss Ayman Saad, who said: "We are sorry that the guy died but what can we do..."

Among those angered, Thomas Lurz, No 1 open water swimmer in the world and man who is standing up for what many believe in, is very clear in his reply, telling SwimNews: "SECURITY BOATS, lifeguards in kayak or kanoe or jet skis or boats or whatever. They should have been next to him [Fran Crippen] and have pulled him out of the water directly after he went down; or they could have just made the start of the race later; or they could have just found out directly after the finish that a swimmer was missing."

He called on FINA to commission an independent inquiry for the benefit of all.