Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Swimming and mourning

If you don't follow competitive swimming, you might have missed the news about Fran Crippen, the 26-year-old elite swimmer who died in the 10K World Cup open-water race near Dubai a few weeks ago.

I never met Fran, but I know people who knew him. He's the same age as one of my sons. And my boys were competitive swimmers, though never at Fran's level.

I was talking yesterday about mourning my father, but Dad lived a long life. He was 95 when he died, and, frankly, by the end all the systems weren't working that well. He couldn't see much or hear much, getting around was a bit of a challenge, and he was becoming forgetful. He didn't look his age, but he probably looked 85.

Fran was so young; he was just at the beginning of his life. (And while I mourn my father, I can't really imagine the pain I'd feel if I lost one of my children.)

Here's the thing about serious athletes--they are used to pushing themselves to failure and beyond. I don't think you get to be an Olympic quality athlete unless you have an incredible work ethic and a high tolerance for pain.

I haven't heard if they figured out what went wrong that day in Dubai, but I hope if there are more safety measures they can take to prevent this from happening again, they take them. I don't think it is realistic to expect the athletes to stop themselves when they are in trouble.

Here's a link a couple of my friends with sons connected to the University of Virginia's swim team posted about Fran: http://www.virginiasports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?&DB_OEM_ID=17800&ATCLID=205022430

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