Ollie Hynd “Heartbroken and Confused” Over New Para Classification

World Para Swimming (WPS), the international federation that presides over Paralympic swimming, announced in October 2017 that as of January 1st, 2018, it would implement a new classification system to combat accusations of intentional misrepresentation (IM) within the sport.

Para swimmers are classified into various categories to even the playing field within each race. IM occurs when a less-impaired swimmer intentionally get themselves classified as more impaired then they actually are. Each swimmer is classified as having either a physical, visual, or intellectual impairment, and undergoes physical, technical in-sport, and technical in-competition assessments to reach a proper classification; the new system mostly affects the technical assessment portion of the classification process.

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has ruled that all para-swimmers will undergo reclassification before Tokyo 2020, and Great Britain has already begun the process. Great Britain’s Ollie Hynd spoke out about the process, which has led to his recent reclassification.

Please see my response to this weeks reclassification

Posted by Ollie Hynd on Sunday, March 4, 2018

Hynd, 23, was the 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medalist in the SM8 200 IM, and also won the S8 400m free in Rio. At the Denmark Para Swimming World Series stop in late February, he was reclassified as an S9, meaning he will be racing less impaired swimmers than he previously has (British Swimming already protested, and after a retest, the classification was upheld). He’ll remain SB8 for breaststroke events.

Even in his new class, Hynd will be among the best internationally: his best 200IM and 400 free times from last year would have ranked in the top 5 in the world.

“It is clear that there will be challenges with this and we won’t know the full worldwide implications until maybe next year,” British Swimming Paralympic performance director Chris Furber said. “However, we welcome anything which brings greater consistency to the classification process. “We’ve reacted to the IPC asking for help in a positive way by putting our swimmers through classification at the first opportunity. We don’t want to see us penalized for doing that.”

Other British para-swimmers including Jonathan Fox, Matt Wylie and Jacob Leach were also reassessed and moved to less severe classes, but will be re-evaluated later in the year.

Hynd, as well as Fox and Leach, are scheduled to swim at the upcoming 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Most other NGBs, including oft-accused Swimming Australia, have yet to begin the classification process.

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LMA

This demonstrates that Para Competition and its ‘bed-rock’ Classification has finally ran away from the IPC. What an absolute shambolic, leaderless, directionless stuff up This ‘re-classification’ exercise is clearly way beyond their capabilities. So far, WPS World Series 1 Copenhagen saw some swimmers classified under the new rules, some not. Fair competition? Of course not. Commonwealth Games, same except unbelievably there is no pre competition classification (why not?) and, the results from WPS1 in Copenhagen is a major hit to overall medals for Team England. WPS World Series 2 Indianapolis will also be the same, a multi tiered competition. This is meant to be top level international competition, they need reminded of that – and swiftly. In addition, swimmers from… Read more »

Taa

USA was only given 8 classification slots for Indianapolis. Its the only meet in North America with classification this year. I want to know who got the other slots. There was about 70 spots in Copenhagen.

LMA

What do you mean by ‘given’? How does that work? I think that requires an urgent explanation from IPC Peter van de Vliet, WPS Tracey Glassford & US Queenie Nichols.

Coach John

there were a finite # of slots appointed to all countries. the logic being they cannot re-classify/classify everyone at the same time. My swimmer was in the pool for Indianapolis and we did not get a slot.

LMA

Surely it is both more financially viable and expedient to classify all Americans in America, Brits in GB et., etc., I think 70 slots should be more than adequate. If I recall only the Chief Classifier can protest now anyway, not other NGBs. Presumably Queenie Nichols decides who gets a slot. Crazy.

bobc

It pays to know a little more before expounding strong convictions. The Classification Master List from last year has 1622 athletes on it who would be subject to a review this year (all 1-10 & 14): https://www.paralympic.org/swimming/classification/masterlist At about 7 athletes per Classification Panel per day that is 232 days of classification to complete the list, assuming that any new athletes do not exceed retiring ones. There are 9 identified Classification Opportunities for athletes with a Physical Impairment: https://www.paralympic.org/swimming/classification/opportunities . That’s 26 panel/days per event. You’d need 8 or 9 teams at every event and that isn’t going to happen. Further more a host nation does not and can not determine classification allocation. World Para Swimming does. They also name… Read more »

LMA

Not all of the 1622 registered swimmers will require review. The list should have been narrowed down long before now, prioritised by WPS and then by the NGB. It is not rocket science and they have had years to prepare for this. A priority should have been to ensure as many classification opportunities as possible – tough to do when you are relying on volunteers though eh, another problem.

Bobc

The point of an R review status is that any athlete with this status can be pulled into classification at any meet they attend that happens to have classification. Paralympics, Worlds, Europeans and others require a review to be resolved for entry either before or at the meet. Additionally many countries will be held accountable by their funding partners for ensuring that the team they fund today will be eligible and competitive tomorrow so nations are individually also pressed not to ignore their up and comers. Furthermore I didn’t even count those who had been found ineligible but who are now entitled to a new review. Nor the fact that the technical assessment now takes much longer, the tools used… Read more »

LMA

Well aren’t I the lucky 1 BobC. Athletes are being let down left, right and centre due to all aspects of classification, nothing else. So here’s another stupid thing for you on this ‘complainers forum’ – Hynd, unfortunately, has joined a growing list of previous WR holders/gold medalists who have found themselves classed up after years of top funding. How many so far? At least 5 that I can think of in recent times and I’m sure there are many more ‘adjustments’ to come, So yeah, I’d be pretty sceptical if funding Para Swimmers was my responsibility. Lets not even mention the welfare of the athletes. The IPC have to do better. If they can’t then they outsource. Thank goodness… Read more »

LMA

BobC If atrophy is an absolute minimum requirement as proof of hemiplegia in athletics and triathlon classification then why isn’t it so for Swimming? It is the same ‘eligible’ classifiable impairment type as determined by the IPC themselves and the IFs need to comply with the rules of classification. BobC, can you answer this? Can anyone else? Can you also explain how it is possible for CP swimmer to consistently record 0.6low/medium reaction times off the blocks? Can anyone familiar with CP swimmers answer that one?

Mark

BOBC

If you look on the IPC website you will see the letter from PvdV stating that NGBs are now in charge of who they chose to reclassifie and when.
I have been to Bonn with my wife and during our meeting with PvdV and mike peters the new process was discussed and am in regular contact with the IPC to highlight the classification farce.
You will also find if you look at the IPC events calendar they list another event where classification is for sale

Taa

Each NGB is allowed to choose the swimmers that get their slots. I think the understanding is that the higher ranked swimmers are going to get first priority. Copenhagen seemed to have an even distribution of slots among a lot of countries. The USA meet SHOULD be heavily weighted towards USA, Canada and Mexico swimmers. If its not then on positive side the meet will have a lot of international competitors

Mark

Cp world games have been told they can offer classification at their games in Spain this year if you want to pay for it. Team England have 29 swimmers paying for IPC classification at this event. So with 10 other countries attending that could lead to over 150 swimmers paying for IPC status. Team England was selected on the basis of if you can afford £1500 then you are selected. This will see some really poor quality swimmers gaining IPC status before those who need to be reclassified. It’s a joke and a couple of days before the European Para meet in Dublin. Will the classifiers be up to the job I doubt it as the para swimming management will… Read more »

sven

Gonna have to trust the professionals on this one. Ollie Hynd might be a legit victim in this case, that’s not my place to say, but until they figure out a way around this, I would rather them be too tough than too lenient.

Taa

Its always going to come down to a judgement call on a lot of these swimmers. My personal opinion is that some of these class changes that will occur this year have already been predetermined by the IPC which is really unfair to the swimmers.

AMA

In my opinion he shouldn’t be heartbroken considering his 400 Free time would rank him 3rd in the world in the S9 rankings. He would be 5/6 in the world in the 100 back S9. He has a better shot as a 9 considering Griswold is an S8 and a second faster then the fastest S9. Who is excited to see Griswolds classification?? This will definitely be interesting!!

Taa

Well Griswold did a 4:39 and Hynd did a 4:19 last year. I dont know what Hynd is confused about…he seems too fast to be an S8.

Yabo

could it just be that griswold and hand are legit talents who a have been hindered by their disability? how fast you are should not determine classification which is why this process is so difficult to judge.

Mary

Very true yabo. Yes there are some swimmers who have natural talent and have achieve great times. Unfortunately these swimmers have been subjected to allegations of cheating by others whilst the true cheats of the system are supported by their NGB and get away with it.

Taa

The two things are intertwined and that makes it difficult. The less disabled you are the faster you can swim thus by swimming faster they appear less disabled. There is a definite bias against the neuro athletes in this case and you have to also consider the need to have a fair competition. Another example of this similar circumstance is Mckenzie Coan, she was moved down to a 7 and dominated her free events in Rio. I wonder if they would move her back up for being too fast. They SHOULD evaluate the swimmer based on the actual disability and its effect on their swimming not how fast they actually swim.

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majors in Media Studies and American Studies at Claremont McKenna College. When she's not writing about swimming or baseball, you can probably find her listening to a podcast or in a pool ... and/or watching Seinfeld, which she just realized is funny.

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