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CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – Former Virginia swimmer Fran Crippen passed away Saturday while competing in the 10K World Cup open water race in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. He was 26 years old.

Crippen, a native of Conshohocken, Pa., was an 11-time All-American at Virginia and was named the Atlantic Coast Conference swimmer of the year in 2003 and 2004. He also earned the league’s freshman of the year award in 2003 and was the most valuable swimmer of the 2004 ACC Championships.

After finishing his Cavalier career, Crippen went on to compete in open water swimming. He earned a bronze medal in the 10K swim at the 2009 World Championships in Rome and collected silver medals in the 10K at both the 2006 and 2010 Pan Pacific Games.

In September, Crippen was named the Male Open Water Swimmer of the Year by USA Swimming.

In his career, Crippen won six United States national titles – two in the 800 freestyle, two in the 5K and two in the 10K.

Crippen’s sister, Claire, is currently a fourth-year swimmer at Virginia. Another sister, Teresa, currently swims at Florida. His oldest sister, Maddy, swam at Villanova and was a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team.

“The University of Virginia swimming and diving family wishes to express our deep love and concern to the Crippen family during this time of tragic loss,” said UVa swimming and diving coach Mark Bernardino. “Fran was our son and our brother in life and in sport. His presence, vitality, courage, toughness and endearing persona have left an indelible mark on the lives of all of us who knew and loved him. There was and can only ever be one Fran Crippen. He brightened the world with a heart that was as big as the world.

“We will do all we can as a team to share our strength and love with Pat, Pete, Maddy, Claire and Teresa. We thank them for sharing Fran with us and for allowing him to be a beacon of human and athletic greatness in our midst. My family and I love Fran as one of our own and we will cherish him forever.”

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