Exeter's Arlen second in Paralympics swimming event
After a week of turmoil that saw Victoria Arlen of Exeter ruled ineligible for and then reinstated in the women’s 400-meter freestyle S6 at the Paralympics in London, she ended up taking second at the event on Saturday.
The 17-year-old senior at Exeter High School was edged out by Eleanor Simmonds of Great Britain, who broke Arlen’s world record with a time of 5 minutes, 19.17 seconds. Arlen finished with a time of 5:20.18.
It has been a rough week for Arlen.
On Monday, the International Paralympic Committee ruled after an evaluation that Arlen’s impairment no longer fit a certain classification.
The U.S. Paralympic Committee appealed that decision and after providing information absent from the first evaluation, a second evaluation was done and on Thursday the IPC said she can remain in the sport classifications in which she was entered.
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 is the least.
Re-testing athletes is standard for the IPC, which traditionally does so prior to all major championships.
Arlen is a paraplegic as the result of a five-year battle with transverse myelitis, a neurological disease that caused inflammation in her spine. She returned to swimming last year after two years in a vegetative state and set world records in the S6 100 and 400 at the U.S. trials earlier this year.
Arlen still has three more events in which she is scheduled to compete. She will race in the 50-meter freestyle S6 on Tuesday, the 100-meter breaststroke SB5 on Wednesday and the 100-meter freestyle S6 next Saturday.
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