2017 CrossFit Games Masters (60+) Athlete Saves Drowning Fellow Competitor

Robert Caslin may not have come out on top at the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games, but he’s definitely left a lasting impact. CrossFit HQ recently released a story on Caslin, a Masters 60+ athlete, who saved the life of a fellow competitor during the Run, Swim, Run event on Thursday, August 3rd.

It’s a great article, and we highly recommend taking a second to read the whole thing.

Here’s the recap: Will Powell, 57, was about 20 meters behind Caslin when he found himself struggling to stay afloat and yelling for help. Caslin told CrossFit HQ that he heard, “Help! Help! I’m Drowning!” coming from behind him in the middle of the swimming portion of the event.

Photo courtesy games.crossfit.com. 

Caslin had to make a decision. With roughly 120 meters to go in the swim, Powell, a four-times Games athlete, found himself in trouble, gasping for air with panic beginning to set in. Luckily, Caslin, a two-time Games athlete and Powell’s friend, wasn’t too far off and made the gut decision to go back for his friend.

Foreshadowing this event, when the Run, Swim, Run event was first announced, Powell and Caslin both had a concern for Powell’s ability to fair in long distance swim. Powell told CrossFit HQ he’s not the strongest swimmer, and also said he hosts a 12-cm tumor growing in the outside lining of the lower lobe of his right lung. Powell told CrossFit HQ,

“Basically I have a lung and a half.”

During the saving, Caslin was also helped by rookie CrossFit Games Masters (55-59) athlete Gus VanDerVoort. Both of them helped Powell stay afloat and waited for the assisting kayak to arrive.

Powell reportedly told Caslin to continue on and that he’d be fine, but Caslin wasn’t leaving his friend until he knew he was safe. Caslin told Powell, “Not finishing this is not gonna ruin my race; what’s gonna ruin it is if you die. I’m not going anywhere until we make sure you’re safe.”

As the kayak finally arrived, they gave Caslin the option to return to his previous point, but he declined to take a ride in with Powell and finish out the race with his friend. Caslin told CrossFit HQ:

“At the end of the day, it’s CrossFit, and we’re all in this together. It’s not about one event, it’s not about one weekend—it’s a community.”

Caslin ended up coming in 14th over the weekend for the Masters 60+ division, while Powell finished in 13th. in the 55-59 age group.

Featured image: Games.CrossFit.com

Jake Boly

Jake Boly

Jake holds a Master's in Sports Science and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Jake serves as the Fitness and Training Editor at BarBend.

He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and has spoken at state conferences on the topics of writing in the fitness industry and building a brand.

As of right now, Jake has published over 1,200 articles related to strength athletes and sports. Articles about powerlifting concepts, advanced strength & conditioning methods, and topics that sit atop a strong science foundation are Jake's bread-and-butter.

On top of his personal writing, Jake edits and plans content for 15 writers and strength coaches who come from every strength sport.

Prior to BarBend, Jake worked for two years as a strength and conditioning coach for hockey and lacrosse players, and a personal trainer the three years before that, and most recently he was the content writer at The Vitamin Shoppe's corporate office.

Jake competes in powerlifting in the 181 lb weight class, and considers himself a professional knee rehabber after tearing his quad squatting in 2017. On the side of writing full time, Jake works as a part-time strength coach and works with clients through his personal business Concrete Athletics in New York City.

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