by Irvin Muchnick
Earlier we reported on the lifetime USA Swimming ban, for sexual misconduct, of Virginia coach Michael Pliuskaitis. See:
“Successor to Paul Bergen — Molester of Olympic Gold Medalist Deena Deardurff Schmidt — Is Newest Addition to USA Swimming’s Banned List,” February 17, https://concussioninc.net/?p=6749
“Greg Winslow Sex Abuse Scandal Mailbag: Clear Details (Which We’re Not Publishing) on Another Victim on the Utah Women’s Swim Team,” March 6, https://concussioninc.net/?p=7033
“Why We Don’t ‘Out’ Swim Coach Sex Abuse Victims — Why We Hope They’ll Decide to Come Forward (Part 2),” March 13, https://concussioninc.net/?p=7117
Now we have learned that Pliuskaitis and his company, SwimTec, continue to run a masters (adult) swim program under the auspices of U.S. Masters Swimming, a Sarasota, Florida-based group that is not affiliated with USA Swimming.
In addition, the Pliuskaitis website markets “World Class Private Swim Instruction” programs for “Swim Club” and “Summer League Swimmers.” See http://www.swimtecusa.com.
In a telephone interview, Pliuskaitis emphatically defended his actions. He also confirmed that he has appealed USA Swimming’s ban to the U.S. Olympic Committee, which has directed the parties to attempt to mediate their dispute.
Pliuskaitis characterized the charges against him as false. He complained that an innocent scenario of a legal relationship with one of his former club swimmers got caught up in a frenzy started by what he called “legitimate” cases against others, such as Rick Curl, the convicted molester of youth swimmer Kelley Davies Currin.
“At the National Board of Review hearing, the alleged victim testified on my behalf, and the accusers did not introduce one shred of evidence that I had broken a single rule. The swimmer was no longer a member of USA Swimming when we entered our relationship,” Pliuskaitis said. “The only thing I could possibly have violated was a guideline — not a rule — saying that coaches ‘should’ not have relationships with swimmers within two years of coaching them. There is a lot of ambiguity about what is ‘sexual intimacy,’ and I did not violate even that guideline.”
When I asked Pliuskaitis to identify the former swimmer in question or to confirm our information that she swam under Greg Winslow on a club in Arizona and later at the University of Utah, Pliuskaitis declined comment.
I also asked Pliuskaitis about his club coaching predecessor in Virginia, International Swimming Hall of Famer Paul Bergen, who has been publicly accused by Olympic gold medalist Deena Deardurff Schmidt of having molested her when he was her youth coach. Pliuskaitis called Bergen “one of the finest people I have ever met — beyond reproach.”
Pliuskaitis explained his continuing to market youth swim coaching as completely transparent. He said he called a parents’ meeting and reviewed the details of his dispute with USA Swimming, and the upshot was that some families left his program and others chose to stay. He declined to give me access to any of the parents who he said attended such a meeting.
If U.S. Masters Swimming executive director Rob Butcher responds to our email inquiry, we will add his comments. USA Swimming officials in Colorado Springs have not responded to communications from Concussion Inc. for many months.