Continuing to Remember Fran

As we approach April 23, which will mark 6 months since we lost our brother and co-founder Fran Crippen, there are a number of articles coming out celebrating Fran’s life and the impact he continues to have on the world of Open Water swimming. Fran was one of the greatest ambassadors Open Water swimming had, so we will look to continue his message and promote this great sport that he loved so much. Below, find one of the articles that was recently written by Marlee Morden on We’ll continue to update this post as other articles come out.


Fran Crippen: Six Months Later

by: Marlee Morden

A few nights ago, I tossed and turned after seeing my friend Caitlin Regan post a link about the Fran Crippen Swim Festival 1 Mile Dash for Cash.  April 23 will mark 6 months since Fran’s untimely death in the Gulf of Oman. I’m not usually one to measure days in terms of the liturgical calendar, but this date falls between Good Friday and Easter Sunday… the former a traditionally sombre day, and the latter one that celebrates new life, resurrection, and joy.

Isn’t it fitting? Six months later, as the water gets warmer and the seasonal open water swimmers begin to dip back into their local lakes and oceans, we are caught somewhere between heartbreak, healing, and the rebirth of open water swimming. The events that led to this tragedy have been examined in excruciating detail, and it is evident that major steps are being taken to ensure the safety of all open water participants.

I was at my first dual meet as a graduate assistant coach when I got the text from one of my Villanova teammates that Fran had drowned. Impossible. That man was a dynamo, a force of nature, and a role model for so many… I had heard the stories and I had seen the records. I had met him in person, heard his laugh, and watched him spin Caitlin around a dance floor. It was incomprehensible.

We had swimmers that day who probably weren’t the first and certainly won’t be the last athletes to dedicate a race to FC. My heart was broken for the Crippens, the GA Swimming family, and several of my close friends.

Remember the worldwide tribute to Fran? It was moving to see the hundreds of pictures of scattered flowers in bodies of water across the world. A loss of such magnitude reverberated across oceans, gulfs, rivers, lakes, and pools, and for a few minutes, swimmers stood side by side in solidarity. At IUP, we paused during our intersquad meet to honour Fran’s life. It wasn’t the kind of “silence” with shifting eyes and suppressed giggles. It was perfectly quiet reflection across the diving well; in that moment, we knew we were the lucky ones who got to return to the pool to compete in the sport we love.

Six months later, I can’t imagine the place from which Caitlin and all of Fran’s close friends draw their strength. I can only reason that it is the powerful memory of Fran himself that inspires people to extend themselves in ways that they did not know they could. Days after his death, Cait spoke courageously at his funeral in a fashion that our coach, Rick Simpson, described as “nothing short of spectacular.” Fran’s friends, family, and co-founders of Elevation Athletics have taken on the mission of advocating for safety in open water swimming, and I have no doubt that this will be a turning point in the history of the sport.

I wish this progress could have been made without losing a great man, and in the case of my friend, a great love.

Stay strong, Caitlin. You and everyone who love Fran will be in my thoughts and prayers on April 23 and always.


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