Update: An AP story quotes the 10K winner, Thomas Lurz, arguing both that the water was too warm for racing and that there was insufficient in-water support.
The news of Fran Crippen’s death during a 10K World Cup race in the United Arab Emirates has stunned and saddened the OW community, with wide speculation that high water temperatures (as high as 86 or 87 degrees F) were likely a significant contributing factor. (Several other swimmers were treated for exhaustion and deyhdration.) UAE swimming officials are reporting that he “died from overexertion,” which isn’t really saying anything.
Crippen failed to finish the race, which apparently was the first point at which anyone realized he was missing. (His body was found by divers two hours later.) Which makes me wonder what kind of in-water support the race was running. This wasn’t a mass-start triathlon with hundreds of swimmers in the water. Were there enough support boats and rescue personnel on hand to monitor the swimmers?
There will certainly be many questions about whether Crippen’s death might have been prevented. Already several sources have pointed out that FINA has a minimum, but no maximum, temperature limit for OW races. Fingers will be pointed, blame will be thrown about. At 10KSwimmer, however, Steven Munatones offers a moving tribute to the person and the swimmer.