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Family of US swimmer Fran Crippen considers legal action for UAE death

The family of Fran Crippen, the US national swimming champion who died in an open water marathon in Fujairah two years ago, is mulling legal action.

File photo of Fran Crippen, US national swimmer, who died during a race in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010. His family is currently considering legal action. AP Photo/Dario Lopez
File photo of Fran Crippen, US national swimmer, who died during a race in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010. His family is currently considering legal action. AP Photo/Dario Lopez

The family of an open-water swimming champion who drowned duing a competition in Fujairah is considering legal action against the American and international governing bodies for competitive swimming.

Fran Crippen, a six-times US national champion, died at the end of a 10 kilometre open water marathon in October 2010. He was 26.

It was the first death at an event organised by Fina, the international governing body on swimming. Three other swimmers had to be taken to hospital.

On Monday, his parents, Peter and Patricia, filed a summons in the Pennsylvania state court against Fina and USA Swimming, the american governing body of competitive swimming.

"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," said their lawyer Gerald McHugh.

"Aside from that technical step, no legal action has been taken." Crippen's death outraged athletes across the world and prompted demands for limits on water and air temperatures and greater supervision.

An April 2011 report by Fina found that dozens of rules governing the race were "inadequately fulfilled". The report found several inconsistencies in statements on swimmer safety by UAE race organisers.

The venue was changed from Sharjah to Fujairah less than two days before the event.

It took two hours for Crippen's body to be found in the Fujairah lagoon.

Crippen was an advocate for safety regulations in the new sport of open water swimming before his death. Weeks earlier, he had listed his fears in a letter to USA Swimming.

 

azacharias@thenational.ae