Fran Crippen's Sister Says Swimmer Voiced Safety Concerns

After swimmer's death during swim, family wants answers.

Oct. 25, 2010 — -- The sister of the American swimmer who died over the weekend during an open water race said today that for months her brother had been voicing concerns about inadequate safety at such races.

"My goal is to talk to everyone who was there and to hear exactly who was there and what safety measures were there," Maddy Crippen, the sister of drowned swimmer Fran Crippen, told "Good Morning America."

"But the one thing that I do know is that in the months leading up to this event my brother had written letters to different organizing committees about safety, the number of people that were there, the doctors that should be there, the support staff and the lack thereof," she said.

Fran Crippen, 26, died during a 10-kilometer race in the waters off the shore of the United Arab Emirates Saturday. A search was launched when Crippen did not finish the race, but his body wasn't discovered for two hours, just 400 meters from the finish line.

A top official for FINA, an international organization governing swimming, said Sunday that Crippen likely died from overexertion.

"We are sorry that the guy died, but what can you do?" UAE Swimming Association executive director Ayman Saad said in a statement. "This guy was tired and he pushed himself a lot."

Local officials said all safety measures were in place for the race, but the race's winner, Germany's Thomas Lurz, said that it was far too hot to hold the competition.

"The water was amazingly hot," Lurz said in a statement. "There were many swimmers who had serious problems in the water."

Maddy Crippen said that her brother had never been in better shape.

"My brother prided himself on being a specimen of excellence," she said with a quiet laugh. "He was at the height of his physical fitness."

Several swimmers complained of dehydration and disorientation after swimming in the warm water and three were taken to the hospital. The UAE Swimming Association said the water was 84 degrees at the start of the race, but many swimmers have come forward to insist it was more like 90 degrees.

"We don't know anything and I think that's one of the main reasons that yesterday I decided to come and talk about it because no one knows how Fran passed," Maddy Crippen said.

Fran Crippen's Legacy: Swim Safety

Maddy Crippen, also a former Olympic swimmer, said that she plans to honor her brother's legacy by continuing his push for greater safety measures in long distance races.

"Maybe things happen for a reason," she said. "Fran would want his legacy to mean something, so I'm going to make sure that happens."

Fran Crippen was a force in the open water swimming circuit. At 26-years-old, he was a six-time national champion and silver medalist in the Pan Pacific Games.

An autopsy has been performed on the body, but its findings have not been released, officials said. Maddy Crippen said the family could have his body back in the United States by the end of the week.

"That means a lot to my mom and dad and the family," she said. "He feels all the love, I know, even though he's not sitting here with us. He was an awesome person."

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