USA Swimming bans Loudoun County swim coach for sexual misconduct
By Liz Clarke,
USA Swimming has placed a Washington area swim coach on its permanently banned list, citing four rules violations that relate to sexual misconduct between 2010 and 2012.
Michael Pliuskaitis, formerly the head coach at Loudoun County-based Snow Swimming, initially was banned in early August and has been removed from the team’s coaching roster for some time. His appeal was denied, leading to an official ban that was issued by USA Swimming on Friday.
Pliuskaitis is the region’s third local swim coach to be banned for life by USA Swimming in the last eight months for sexual improprieties with swimmers.
Riley Eaton, general chairman of Potomac Valley Swimming, confirmed Saturday that he had received a letter from USA Swimming on Friday informing him of the ban. The ban, and the four code violations cited, were confirmed Saturday in an e-mail from a USA Swimming spokesperson.
As such, Pliuskaitis may not coach any athlete who is a USA Swimming member nor interact with them on any direct or frequent basis.
Snow Swimming is well known in the sport, having produced Olympian Matt McLean. The club was founded by Pliuskaitis but now is owned by his ex-wife.
Hall of Fame coach Rick Curl, who ran one of the nation’s largest swim clubs (the former Curl-Burke), was banned for an improper relationship with a teenage swimmer in the 1980s that started when she was 13 and he was 33. Curl was charged in October with felony child abuse. The club has since changed its name to the Nation’s Capital Swim Club.
Last month, Noah Rucker, a former coach at Vienna’s Madison High, was convicted of a misdemeanor offensefor allegedly having sex with a 17-year-old female member of the high school’s varsity swim team. Rucker was suspended by USA Swimming in July.
In a telephone interview, Eaton said that the three recent bans, although all related to sexual misconduct, were not connected in any other way.
“They are totally separate — not only by location but by age, when they occurred and other factors,” Eaton said. “It’s not like some cabal that three guys got together and were preying on young women. They are very separate.”
Eaton said that USA Swimming and local officials were doing all they could to ensure athletes are safe in the future.
“Everybody is a little more aware now,” Eaton said. “We want to make sure our kids are safe. And we’re working really hard at it so we don’t just discount things on face value anymore. That is something we’re doing a better job of.
“The ills of the past are hopefully just that. They are the past, and we are moving forward enough to make sure that we do a better job.”