Camille Muffat, French Olympic swim champion, dies in helicopter crash
French Olympic gold medalist swimmer Camille Muffat and bronze medalist boxer Alexis Vastine were among 10 people killed in a helicopter crash in Argentina on Monday, according to Agence France-Presse and confirmed by international media.
Muffat, Vastine and other French sports stars were filming a reality TV show. Two helicopters with some members of the show collided in flight, and there were no survivors (Argentina media posted video of the contact). The athletes who died were Muffat, Vastine and sailor Florence Arthaud.
“Camille was a very determined girl who could make very strong choices and face up to them. She had dedicated a lot of her life to swimming to become Olympic champion, and her objective since her retirement was to make a success of her (personal) life,” said Muffat’s agent, Sophie Kamoun, according to The Associated Press. “She had a lot of projects that made her happy, and this show was one of them. I spoke to her on the phone two days ago and she told me she’d spent a fabulous week, one of the best of her life.”
The show included World Cup soccer player Sylvain Wiltord, who tweeted the following:
Muffat, 25, abruptly retired last summer, partly due to a disagreement with a coach.
She won gold in the 2012 Olympic 400m freestyle (video here), silver in the 2012 Olympic 200m free and bronze in the 2013 World Championships 200m free. Muffat was a top rival to Americans Missy Franklin, Katie Ledecky and Allison Schmitt.
Vastine, 28, won 2008 Olympic boxing bronze.
Others on the reality TV show but not in the helicopter crash included swimmer Alain Bernard, famous for being passed by Jason Lezak in the 2008 Olympic 4x100m free final anchor leg. Also, cyclist Jeannie Longo, a four-time Olympic medalist, and figure skater Philippe Candeloro, who won bronze in 1994 and 1998.
Bernard was supposed to be in one of the two helicopters that crashed but, as a matter of weight, instead was to go on a third helicopter, according to L’Equipe.
"[Bernard] was in tears, traumatized by what he’d seen,” Kamoun said, according to the AP. “He told me he saw some flames, and he knew it was dramatic.”