Sad news hits Charlottesville from the United Arab Emirates Saturday night, as news that former Virginia swimmer Fran Crippen, 26, passed away Saturday while representing the United States in the 10K World Cup open water race. Crippen, a native of Conshohocken, Pa., was an 11-time All-American and two-time ACC swimmer of the year (2003, 2004).
According to Swimming World, Crippen had begun to slow down during the third lap of the five-lap race. Teammate Alex Meyer noticed that the six-time U.S. national champion had not finished, and immediately called for help. Other competing swimmers went back into the water to help with the search. He was discovered nearly two hours later by deep sea divers, apparently after becoming unconscious during the final leg of the race. The water temperature was reported to have been in the mid- to high-80s, and three other swimmers were sent to the hospital to be treated for heat exhaustion."He was the love of our lives," his mother, Patricia, said. "He was just so full of life and enjoyed life so much."
"His last email to me [before Thursday's win] was, 'How come the Phillies keep losing, what the heck," she said.
FINA, USA Swimming, and the U.S. Olympic Committee each released statements following the tragedy.
"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," FINA said. FINA President Julio Maglione also said that this is the first death in any FINA event.
"Fran was a champion swimmer but more importantly, a tremendous person, and he will be remembered for so many extraordinary qualities," the USA Swimming said in a statement. "We will continue to work with FINA, the meet host and others to determine how this tragedy occurred."
The U.S. Olympic Committee added, "We send our condolences and deepest sympathies to the Crippen family as well as to our entire swimming community. While details of this tragedy are still forthcoming, we shall keep this outstanding young athlete and his family in our thoughts and prayers."
While at Virginia, he had also been named the ACC's freshman of the year award in 2003 and was the most valuable swimmer of the 2004 ACC Championships.
Following Virginia, Crippen went on to compete in open water swimming. He earned a bronze medal in the 10K swim at the 2009 World Championships in Rome and collected silver medals in the 10K at both the 2006 and 2010 Pan Pacific Games.
Crippen had just been named the USA Swimming Male Open Water Swimmer of theYear.
Crippen had three sisters, each of whom have found her own success in swimming. Claire is currently a fourth-year swimmer and NCAA All-American at UVa, Teresa currently swims and is an NCAA finalist at Florida, and Maddy, the oldest, swam at Villanova and was a 2000 U.S. Olympian and an NCAA Champion."He was our hero," Maddy said.