U.S. Paralympics 2015 Can-Am Open Preview

U.S. Paralympics Swimming Open (2015 Can-Am Open)

Bismarck, North Dakota will host this year’s U.S. Paralympics Swimming Open (2015 Can-Am Open), a long course meter competition pitting the best of the U.S. Para Swim Team against the best of the Canadian Para Swim Team.

For American Paralympic swimmers and Team USA, it’s a big opportunity to earn qualification slots for their country in preparation for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. A great number of these swimmers will be competing in the Can-Am Open with the intent of claiming a coveted qualification slot in order to represent the United States in Rio 2016.

Some of Paralympic Swimming’s fastest competitors will be in attendance including three-time Paralympian and multiple S8 world record holder, Jessica Long. Long will be joined by Baltimore teammate Ian Silverman, decorated Paralympian Rudy Garcia-Tolson, U.S. Army Spc. Elizabeth Wasil (S10 & SB7), breaststroke specialist Tharon Drake (S11), and youngsters Robert Griswold (S8) and Colleen Young (S13) as they race for their Rio slots.  The Can-Am Open will also welcome international standouts Andre Brasil (S10) of Brazil, Koki Sakakura of Japan (S14), and Canadians Benoit Huot (S10) and Katarina Roxon (S9).  The most recent opportunity for international Para-swimming was at the IPC World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. During that meet, Long garnered seven medals and broke the championship record her 100 breast class.

Each swimmer is classified into three different categories, S, SB, and SM. “S” is designated for freestyle, backstroke and butterfly events, “SB” is for breaststroke, and “SM” identifies the individual medley. Swimmers are placed by guidelines set forth by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and are often subject to different classes for each category.

In order for these athletes to earn a Rio 2016 slot, the IPC  implemented a qualification system with two methods of slot selection, the first being the 2015 World Championships Allocation. According to the IPC, this selection method is determined by:

“The top two (2) ranked athletes at the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships in each of the Individual medal events on the Rio 2016 Paralympic Programme will each obtain one (1) qualification slot for their respective NPC. In the case that an athlete is ranked first or second in more than one medal event, he/she can only obtain one (1) qualification slot for his/her NPC.”

The second is the MQS Qualification Allocation which recognizes athletes who achieved an MQS performance at an IPC Recognized Competition between October 5, 2014 and January 31, 2016. These swimmers have the opportunity to be considered for a slot based on their performances and Team USA’s limitation to three swimmers per event. On top of that, American Paralympic swimmers can swim in Rio if the IPC considers up to five male and female athletes who are chosen to compete in Rio with a Bipartite Commission Invitation Allocation.

Paralympic.org has Team USA listed on a pre-calculation chart with 11 estimated slots for the men and 21 estimated slots for the women, so we’re expecting fast racing and high levels of competition as the athletes post their last chance times.

The Can-Am open will start Thursday’s preliminary session with the 200m free, 400m free, 100m fly, and 50m back at 9:00 AM CST in Bismarck, ND.

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Paraswim Fan
6 years ago

Unless the IPC addresses that, which to many, was blatant IM during the course of the IPC World Championships, Paralympic Swimming is on a downward slide ethically. Whilst it always had its classification controversies, it now appears as an organisation complicit with cheating. It simply wouldn’t do for their classifiers to admit they made mistakes.

Until such times that Neurologists are involved in the classification of neurologically impaired swimmers there will always be swimmers competing in classes that are inappropriate for their ability under the current ‘simple’ points system used.

The classifications of Australian swimmers Elliott and Patterson as S8s are the biggest controversies heading in to the Paralympic year, my opinion. Do the sport a huge favor and review… Read more »

Reply to  Paraswim Fan
6 years ago

I think GBsTully Kearney can be added to that list. A shock 200IM time of 2.30 for a wheelchair user with a LL degenerative impairment or CP, again depending on the articles read. Kearney reduced her IM time by 10 seconds throughout the year. This puts her right up there as a very H igh achiever among her able bodied peers, or another development swimmer inappropriately classified.

6 years ago

I’ve just quickly checked the IPC world rankings and a quick point about ‘first appearance’. Why would a swimmer (Crothers) whose main stroke is freestyle with a world ranking in the class he presented for classification in as follows :- 1st 50 free 1st 100 free 3rd 400 free 6th 50 back no ranking 100 back, choose 50 backstroke (a non Paralympic event for his class) over 400 free (a Paralympic event) for his first appearance? You see Swarmy, I believe a swimmer has a responsibility him/herself for presenting properly for classification and showing what they CAN do, not just what they can’t. Maybe Crothers is living to regret that 50 back decision who knows. I also don’t know where… Read more »

Reply to  Shona
6 years ago

Not another Australian Integrity slip?

6 years ago

Swampy, good idea regarding videoing the classification process because the classification of neuros is ruining competition and the integrity of the sport for everyone. Whether that is as a result of athletes hamming it up or classifiers getting it wrong is irrelevant. A limb deficient athlete will always be a certain class as long as minimal and maximum class profile is met. How much science went in to that decision do you think? There is no such set profile for neuros. There used to be, the S8 class but they were found to be too successful (?) There is nothing ‘ignorant’ about others view points, there is something very ignorant however about expecting the public to think classifiers and indeed… Read more »

6 years ago

Never underestimate the ability of the classifiers to get it wrong and get away with it, leaving the athletes to face all the critcism about the classification they are given.

Until the classification process for each athlete is video recorded, including the dry land component, underwater vision for both the water testing AND observation of in-competition swims, there will always be so much left to question about how the classifiers came to a decision.

Video evidence would give classifiers some degree of credibility and make reviewing a decision for a protest or an appeal simpler. It’d be a valuable visual training aid and guide for classifiers in determining the range of ability for an athlete to ensure they classify like… Read more »

Reply to  Swampy
6 years ago

The Functional Classification System for swimming has attracted serious criticism for decades. The ‘S’ and ‘SB’ stroke point system was meant to reflect Councilmans work the science of swimming, but clearly doesn’t.

Mild neuros are a long standing problem, and the biggest problem, with absolutely no research attributed to these swimmers what so ever. Incredibly ignorant of the IPC scientific fellows. The classification process therefor will always produce incorrect results either as a result of cheating or error. Inexperienced and developing swimmers should not be beating experienced physically developed well trained swimmers, it’s ludicrous.

Fatigue, stroke length, body roll, thoracic limitations and coordination are all extremely important factors in neuros that are overlooked, again ignorantly by the IPC.… Read more »

6 years ago

My daughter wants to know what happened to Ian and she said his twitter was silent this weekend. A lot of people are following this story I think and huge jolt of energy for US Paralympic swimming if he were to be ruled eligible again.

I follow the women mostly and there were a couple other moves the IPC classifiers made which can be questioned. Elizabeth Wasil moved down two classes from S10/SB9 to S8/SB7 and as a result now world ranked #1 in 100Breast. Early xmas present for her and wonder what Loeffler’s reaction was to that one. Second one Nelya Schasfort moved up from S7 to S8, took away her chance to qualify for RIO in the… Read more »

6 years ago

I saw that also TA. NBACFAM I also hope Silverman returns to para swimming. It was the most ridiculous outcome especially since the S10 ‘club footers’ are corrected at birth. Corrected club foot does not hold anyone back in the western world.

I noticed on meet mobile Australian Crothers (there for classification) swam as S9 then continued the meet as S10 although not swimming much post S10. He also has a mild CP similar to Silverman.

Again, it is beyond ridiculous that the classifiers have these mild neuro athletes competing in so many different classes. It’s not rocket science. It’s grouping like for like. Kindergarteners do it all the time!

Ditch the point scoring system as that system… Read more »

6 years ago

Silverman had extensive surgery to lengthen his Achilles and reconstruct one of his feet due to a deformity caused by his cerebral palsy. His foot was on the verge of collapse. It’s amazing that the he was deemed ineligible in March, yet he is one of the few S10s that has had major surgeries throughout his life. He’s coming back in the spring for classification. He will probably be classed as an S9 as he now has little use of his left ankle. He’ll be in Rio. The IPC is lucky he is a kid with character because he should have sued them for their incompetence and told the world the movement is a joke. He believes in para-sport, wants… Read more »

6 years ago

How can Silverman be competing in events other than breaststroke? Is he being appealed? Great news if he is but I don’t see him on the classification schedule yet he’s definitely on the Psych Sheet. Anyone know?

Reply to  Curious
6 years ago

As of now he is not in any events in Meet Mobile. Maybe he showed up and they sent him home again or he scratched the whole meet.

About Stephen Parsons

Stephen Parsons

Stephen's swimming journey has taken him all across the Southeastern United States. Starting out at the Flowood, MS based Sunkist Swim Team, he made the transition to Auburn, AL where he competed the remainder of his high school years with Auburn Aquatics. His college career began at Daytona State College under the …

Read More »