Crippen Captures First Gold of Pan American Games

VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM Fran Crippen won a gold medal in the open water 10K at the 2007 Pan American Games
VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM
Fran Crippen won a gold medal in the open water 10K at the 2007 Pan American Games
VIRGINIASPORTSDOTCOM

July 16, 2007

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Former Virginia swimmer Fran Crippen claimed the first gold medal of the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, over the weekend, winning the 10K Olympic distance open water event at Copacabana Beach. Crippen, representing the United States, finished in a time of 2:02:24.1, just 5.1 seconds in front of teammate Charles Peterson.

"It was awesome," Crippen, a Philadelphia native, said of his win. "There were so many fans there and they really embraced marathon swimming. They showed great support."

Crippen is relatively new to open water swimming, having really begun training last August. He finished second at the 2007 Open Water Championships behind Peterson, but was able to edge the veteran Saturday.

"(Charles) has a lot of experience and I knew if I could stick with him, I could use that as a gage to put myself in good position. I did that for the first 9K and used the last 1,000 (meters) to pull away."

The open water swim competition was the event's first-ever appearance in the Pan American Games. The 10K open water swim will make its first Olympic appearances at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

"By no stretch of imagination is it a new sport," Crippen commented. "It's been around a long time but has really taken off internationally. I'm excited about the possibilities it can hold."

Crippen will have a quick turnaround. Already heading back to California to continue training after his gold medal performance, Crippen compete in Indianapolis at the U.S. National Championships next month.

Monday is the first day of pool swimming competition at the Pan Am Games, with events beginning at 7 p.m. local time. There will be a total of nine preliminary events. Finals resume Tuesday.