Happy birthday, Fran.
On October 30, swimmers and friends-of-swimming around the world visited lakes, oceans, bays, rivers, and man-made pools, and offered a tribute to a great swimmer and (by all accounts) remarkable human being, who passed too soon.
Both are beautiful beyond words.…
In the span of only about 24 hours, the open water swimming community has been reminded twice – in the most tragic way possible - that our sport may have more in common with mountain climbing than it does with pool swimming.
Open water swimming can take many forms, but at it’s heart it’s an extreme sport – with extreme dangers. These dangers are both external – as in Lucas Ransom’s fatal encounter with a great white shark off the Central California coast – and internal – as in Fran Crippen’s sudden death from (apparently) heat exhaustion during a FINA 10K race.
When we immerse ourselves in the open water we put our lives in the hands of powerful, conscience-less forces, from currents and waves to sharks and toxic microorganisms. When we push ourselves to physical extremes – in distance, effort, or both – there’s no guarantee our bodies will be up to the task.
We love the open water for the freedom, the challenge, the adventure.…
This past week in Roberval, QC Canada, the best open-water swimmers in the world converged on Lac St-Jean for the FINA World Championships. The contested distances: 5K, 10K, and 25K. Team USA made an impressive showing: Eva Fabian (5K) and Alex Meyer (25K) took gold in dramatic fashion, and Fran Crippen took bronze in the 5K (and 4th in the 10K). Fabian, who kicked my ass ’round-and-’round the Miami Marine Stadium in April, was also co-leading the 10K until she was disqualified for missing the final buoy.
In a sport that has been traditionally dominated by Europeans, the Americans took 2nd in overall points (behind Italy).
This was posted a few days ago on the Daily News of O.W.S. – it’s the finish of the Men’s 10K U.S. National Championship last weekend in Long Beach.
This is why these guys train so hard – to be at this level, you need not only endurance but also speed. After 9,500m at a pace most people can’t hold for 100m, it all comes down to a sprint. The dude nearest the camera (Chip Peterson) is using an 8-beat kick! Simply… awesome.