Crippen to honor brother at NYC Marathon

November, 6, 2010
11/06/10
3:00
PM ET

Former Olympic swimmer Maddy Crippen will run Sunday's New York City Marathon to honor her late brother Fran, the open-water swimmer who died tragically at a World Cup race in the United Arab Emirates on Oct. 23.

Maddy, 30, entered the race a few months ago at her brother's urging, and raised pledges for the USO. She'll run this marathon -- only her second -- with his spirit in mind.

"He did it two years in a row [2008 and 2009] and he always said it was the greatest sporting event he's ever seen,'' she said Saturday.

Fran, who was one of the top open-water swimmers in the world, finished the New York City Marathon in under three hours last year. "It was so annoying. He was so much better on land than I was,'' Maddy said, laughing. But her fondest recollection is from 2008, when her brother ran in Phillies gear to commemorate his hometown baseball team's World Series win.

"We were waiting for him at Mile 21 or 22, which is usually a low point, and we were worried about how he might be doing,'' she said. "Then this big man in Phillies stuff comes into view, and he comes over and chest-bumps us, which is not easy in a crowd.'"

Maddy, who finished sixth in the 400-meter individual medley at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, runs regularly for fitness, but the events of the past two weeks have kept her from training as much as she might have. "I'm just hoping my background gets me through," she said. "My goal is to finish by the time the Eagles kick off [at 4:15 p.m.]." That gives her ample time -- more than six hours.

Fran's family and friends are working on finalizing the structure of a foundation that has been established in his memory, and will be announcing details later this month, his sister said.

Two separate investigations into the circumstances of the swimmer's death have been launched by U.S. and international swimming authorities. Other swimmers who competed in the event said there were not sufficient safety measures and personnel in place to aid athletes who were trying to cope with extremely hot water conditions.

Bonnie D. Ford

ESPN Senior Writer

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