Fran Crippen was a loyal ambassador of sport, fair play, and humanitarian goodwill. A graduate of the University of Virginia, Fran was an 11-time All-American and two-time Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) swimmer of the year. He earned a bronze medal as a member of USA Swimming at the 2001 Goodwill Games in Brisbane, Australia. At the 2003 Pan American Games, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, he won two individual silver medals in the 400 and 1500 m freestyle.

After being a pool swimmer for most of his career, in 2006 while swimming at Mission Viejo under Coach Bill Rose, Fran made the transition to open water swimming, where he had tremendous success. Fran represented the United States at the Pan Pacific Championships in 2006, where he earned a silver medal in the 10 km open water swim. In 2007, he earned a gold medal in the 10 km distance event at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Through his hard work and success in open water swimming, Fran was able to represent TYR Sport, Inc and continue his goal of making the Olympic team in 2008.

After narrowly missing the Olympic team in 2008, Fran returned home to Conshohocken, PA. While coaching for Germantown Academy, Fran realized he was not done his career yet. Fran had a goal of making it to the Olympics, and he wanted to continue to pursue this goal.  Fran began swimming again for his childhood coach, Richard Shoulberg, representing Germantown Academy Aquatic Club. One year later, Fran won a bronze medal in the 10 km open water race at the 2009 World Aquatics Championships. A year later, Fran again won silver in the 10 km at the 2010 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Irvine, California. Fran was a six-time US National Champion. He won two national titles in the 800 m freestyle, two in the 5 km open water, and two in the 10 km open water event.

Fran died while swimming the last race of FINA’s 2010 10K series in Fujairah, UAE, having won the penultimate race in Cancun, Mexico, the weekend before. The Fran Crippen Elevation Foundation was developed by Fran’s family and friends to continue Fran’s legacy. The FCEF empowers athletes who exemplify the principles Fran embodied as they journey to elevate themselves, by providing aid for athletes as well as advocating for safe competitive environments.

Swimming is a Crippen family affair. Fran’s oldest sister, Maddy attended Villanova University and was a 2000 Olympian in the 400 individual medley placing sixth in finals. Fran’s younger sister, Claire Crippen, attended the University of Virginia just as Fran did. There, Claire was a national finalist, NCAA All-American, and ACC record holder for the Cavaliers. The youngest of the group, Teresa Crippen, was a member of the University of Florida Women’s Swim Team. Teresa competed with her brother at the 2007 Pan American Games where she won 2 gold medals and 1 silver medal. Teresa also competed with Fran at the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships where they both won a silver medal in their respective events. All 3 sisters are retired from swimming and enjoy giving back to the swimming community whenever possible. It is through Fran’s family that the FCEF continues to give back to the swimming community and looks to continue building on Fran’s legacy.


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