CONSHOHOCKEN (CBS) — As the family of champion swimmer Fran Crippen prepares for his funeral this Saturday in Conshohocken, swimming’s international governing body is beginning a formal investigation into his death.
The task force will be composed of experts in life saving, cardiology, sports medicine and law. It will include two others appointed by U.S. swim authorities.
Today, we are learning more from Fran Crippen’s friend, who was also in the race.
When 26 year old Fran Crippen dove into the waters, south of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, for a 10 kilometer open water race, he was a champion pursuing his dream — winning a spot on the 2012 Olympic Swim Team.
Christine Jennings, his friend and teammate, was swimming next to him.
“I knew the water was hot,’ Christine said, “And every athlete was trying to make the best out of it and do the best they could.”
But for swimmers, racing in water that reached 86 degrees, it’s dangerous. Jennings said, the conditions disoriented her.
“I remember a pain in my head and light headedness. I had to close my eyes a lot and I was veering off course. I couldn’t even stay behind the swimmer in front of me.”
For Fran, a champion swimmer from Germantown Academy, apparently there was a struggle that wasn’t seen. He went under with 17-hundred meters to go. Two hours later, his body was found.
With her disorientation, Jennings said she was looking for a lead boat.
” Normally the ref boat stays to the side to watch the lead pack and see if there is any fighting going on and I looked for a ref boat and never saw one.”
Dubai authorities say the cause of Crippen’s death was exhaustion. But critics say the water water accelerated dehydration.
USA Swimming will be conducting its own independent investigation of Crippen’s death, the race and safety protocols.
Reported By: Pat Ciarrocchi, CBS 3