blog home Wrongful Death Professional Athlete Dies in Overheated Pool

Professional Athlete Dies in Overheated Pool

By Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie on October 26, 2010

U.S. professional swimmer Fran Crippen died during a 10-kilometer marathon on Saturday, October 23 in the United Arab Emirates. During the event, several of the athletes complained about the water temperature which was in the 80’s. Although the cause of the athlete’s death is still under investigation, several sporting organizations have suggested severe fatigue and heart attack caused by the overheated water.

Shortly before his death, Crippen told his coach that the air temperature was 100 degrees and the water was 87 degrees. Normally, when a person is exercising the body dissipates the heat through the skin. However 87 degrees is hotter than body temperature, so the heat remains in the body. This can cause nausea, vomiting and light-headedness and cause dehydration. The muscles may begin to spasm and stop working. The heart is unable to pump efficiently and develops an arrhythmia. Lung failure can also occur which may lead to swallowing water and drowning.

Other swimmers say that swimming that day was a struggle.

FINA guidelines specify only that water temperature must be above 61 degrees to compete. It doesn’t address high temperatures.

Organizers of athletic events have the responsibility to ensure that the facilities are safe for athletes. Athletes who are injured because of negligence, broken equipment or poor planning may be able to sue for compensation for their medical costs and related losses. Athletes that die because of inadequate competing conditions may have a wrongful death claim. To learn more, contact the Orange County personal injury attorneys at Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie.

Injured athletes, download our free guide, “Athletes and Accidents. 9 Pitfalls That Can Delay Your Recovery.

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Posted in: Wrongful Death


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