US Paralympics swimmer awaits ruling to compete

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Associated Press

Posted on August 30, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Updated Thursday, Aug 30 at 11:02 AM

LONDON (AP) — American swimmer Victoria Arlen is waiting to learn if she can compete in the London Paralympics after organizers ruled her impairment did not fit a classification.

The U.S. Paralympic Committee launched an appeal after the International Paralympic Committee made its decision on Arlen on Monday. She is currently being assessed by the IPC.

While awaiting the outcome of the appeal, she can take part in the heats of the 400-meter freestyle on Saturday.

The 17-year-old Arlen of Exeter, N.H., returned to swimming last year after a neurological virus affected her spinal cord in 2006, leaving her in a vegetative state for two years. She set world records for the S6 100 and 400 in the U.S. trials this year.

Craig Spence, director of media and communications for the IPC, said the governing body could wait for Arlen to compete before reaching a verdict.

"It's likely the classifiers will . want to see Victoria compete in competition," Spence said. "She is able to compete as an S6 swimmer until we finalize this process."

Swimmers are allocated into classes between 1 and 14, with 1-10 containing those with a physical disability. Class 1 is the most severe and class 10 the least.

Evidence received by the IPC caused the ruling that she no longer fit into any of the classes.

The IPC also said 40 athletes had their sport class changed before the start of the games. Two of those are American swimmers Justin Zook and Mallory Weggemann, who have won 10 Paralympic golds between them.

The U.S. Paralympic Committee appealed the decision but it was rejected Wednesday, meaning they will have to compete against more able-bodied swimmers.

The IPC typically reclassifies athletes ahead of major championships.

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