Brian Loeffler has been removed from the United States’ staff for the Para Pan American Games and from the US Paralympic Committee’s ‘travel list’ after Tweets critical of the classification process during last week’s IPC World Championships in Glasgow Scotland.
While the U.S. Paralympic Committee didn’t specifically respond to a request for why they chose to remove Loeffler based on his Tweets, they did confirm the decision, saying that he was removed from the “Coaches on the U.S. Paralympic Swimming Coaches Trip List,” whose members “may be asked by U.S. Paralympics Swimming to serve on the staff for camps/competitions on an ad hoc basis.”
The Parapan American Games will run from August 7th-15th in Toronto.
The Tweets, which have since been removed, concerned 17-year old Australian Madison Elliott, who was reclassified twice during the meet.
- Read more about what the classifications mean here.
- Read about the IPC’s two-year review of the classification system here.
Elliott has long been classified as an S8 swimmer, and has become one of the best in the world in that classification, but shortly before the start of the championships last week, was moved to the S9 classification, which submits her to faster competitors. In her preliminary heat of that race, she swam a 1:25.42 for 7th in her heat and failed to qualify for the final.
“I have been removed from the U.S. Paralympic Coaching Trip List after making public comments related to classification at the IPC World Championships,” Loeffler confirmed late Monday evening. Despite his removal from that list, Loeffler reaffirmed his commitment to coaching para-swimmers.
“This removal does not change may passion or desire to continue to coach para-athletes at Loyola. I am very proud of how the athletes I coach performed at the recent IPC World Championships. Of the 11 gold medals team USA won, 9 of them were won by athletes I coached. The remaining two gold medals were won by someone from the Baltimore area that I introduced to para-swimming. It is my plan to continue to support para-swimmers as they strive to represent Team USA in the future.”
National Team swimmers Alyssa Gialamas and McKenzie Coan are both members of Loyola’s varsity swim team, where Loeffler is the head coach. World-Record-breaker and ESPY winner Becca Meyers is also a former Greyhound.
The IPC, presuming they’ve made a mistake based on her swim, moved her back to the S8 category for the remainder of the meet, and she proceeded to dominate the S8 classification, including dropping 8 seconds in the 100 backstroke later in the week and come within four-tenths of a second of the Championship Record. She would also set the World Record in the 100 free and win gold there as well.
Loeffler’s Tweets, which have since been removed, specifically alluded to Elliott, though hers is not the only frustration with the classification system from American coaches. At least three American swimmers were reclassified days before the 2012 Paralympic Games, and American Record holder Ian Silverman has recently been entirely classed out of the system entirely despite having cerebral palsy.