U.S. panel seeks improved safety after Crippen death

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Limits on water temperature and improved safety standards should be adopted for open water swimming competitions, a U.S. panel reviewing the death of an American swimmer last year said on Wednesday.

USA Swimming commissioned a five-member panel chaired by International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound of Canada to review the circumstances of 26-year-old Fran Crippen's death and make recommendations for improving the sport.

Crippen, who was hoping to become the first U.S. medalist in open water swimming at an Olympic Games in 2012, died of apparent heat exhaustion during a Marathon Swimming World Cup 10km event in the United Arab Emirates.

A review of Crippen's death could not be completed because swimming's international federation (FINA) declined to provide information until issuing its own report, the panel said.

The panel recommended FINA adopt minimum and maximum water temperatures for races and a safety plan to include the ability to monitor and reach swimmers during competitions.

"What we've produced is a sensible program of action that will significantly reduce the potential for this sort of a tragedy to occur in open water swimming again," Pound said in a statement.

FINA officials could not be reached for immediate comment.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue)